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Sautéed Red Peppers: The Perfect Side Dish

1 February 2024

I needed a side dish to go with a couscous salad and Merquez sausages, but in the end this little side dish turned out to be the star of the meal. Packed full of flavour, glazed, sweet, tangy, smokey, savoury, soft and luscious peppers steamed and then sautéed. It sounds like a complicated dish but it’s the opposite, trust me!

The idea for the recipe came from one of @testkitchens videos on how to speed up the process of caramelising a big bunch of onions. Instead of slowly sautéing the onions in a pan while you keep stirring, they came up with a quicker (and in my opinion tastier) way to do this.

To soften the onions (in this case the red peppers), the trick is to first steam them in a a pan with lid on with a splash of water until softened, ± 20 minutes. Once softened you can remove the lid and let the water evaporate while the pepper for onions caramelise. It work amazingly!

You can serve this ‘side dish’ with seafood, rice, potatoes, in a wrap, on bruschetta, on sandwhiches, as a dip. The options are endless!

Sautéed Red Peppers: The Perfect Side Dish

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Sides, dinner, lunch, snack Mediterranean
By Saffron Serves: 4 as side dish
Prep Time: 5 minutes Cooking Time: 35 minutes Total Time: 40 minutes


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 garlic gloves, thinly sliced
  • 4 red peppers, sliced into strips or cubes
  • 1 tsp smoked chipotle pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp coarse sea salt
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 - tbsp balsamic vinegar (to taste)
  • Salt & Pepper (to taste)
  • To serve
  • Fresh parsley or basil, roughly chopped
  • Extra virgin olive oil



Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan (with a lid), then add the onions, the chipotle chili flakes and a pinch of salt. Sauté the onions until softened, ± 3 minutes.


Add the peppers and the water, stir and turn the heat down to medium / low. Place the lid on the pan and let steam until softened, ± 20 minutes. Stir once or twice in between.


Remove the lid and continue to cook on medium heat and bring to a simmer. Add the tomato paste and mix well into the juices and continue to cook for ± 10 minutes until the liquids starts to evaporate.


Pour in a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar, taste and season to your liking with more vinegar, pepper and salt.


When everything is slightly thickened and nice and glossy it’s done. Serve with fresh basil or parsley and a good drizzle of olive oil.

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