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Espelette Piperade

Wednesday, 18 November 2009


The most famous chile in France is piment d’ Espelette, or the Espelette 
pepper, and it has become a cultural and culinary icon in the French
part of Basque country. At first the Espelette farmers formed
cooperative enterprises to protect their interests, and eventually they
applied to the National Institute for Trade Name Origins for an
Appellation d’Origine Controlee (AOC). On December 1, 1999, an AOC was
granted to Espelette peppers and products, giving it the same protection
as more famous names, such as Champagne sparkling wine. Only ten
villages are allowed to use the name “Espelette”: Espelette, Ainhoa,
Cambo les Bains, Halsou, Itsassou, Jatsou, Laressore, St. Pee sur
Nivelle, Souraide, and Ustarritz. The total growing area is about 3,000
acres. Piperade is a colorful pepper sauce that is only spicy when made
in the Basque region. This simple but delicious sauce is often served at
the Celebration of the Peppers in the village of Espelette. Serve it
over boiled potatoes and green beans.


At a glance
Cooking Method
Heat Level
2 1/2 cups
1/2 cup olive oil
4 medium onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic
4 green bell peppers, seeds and stems removed, chopped
2 red bell peppers, seeds and stems removed, chopped
4 large tomatoes, peeled and chopped
3 tablespoons Espelette powder, or more to taste (substitute hot paprika
or New Mexico red chile powder)
Pinch of thyme
Salt and pepper to taste


Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a large saute pan and saute the onions and 
garlic for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the bell peppers and
cook over medium heat for 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and Espelette
powder and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the thyme,
salt, and pepper and transfer to a bowl. For a smooth sauce, puree this
mixture in small batches in a blender or food processor.


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