Food prop experiment part 1 – Peppery Peperonata With Leeks and Olives


When I and one of the creatives from the ad agency I work with went prop shopping for Easter props in Milan about two weeks ago I ran across this little strange alien of a prop and I just couldn’t resist buying it.  As a prop, not for my home and how and why I would think it is a good prop is still a mystery to me. That little sphere with a tiny nose and wide mouth obviously stirred my feelings so here I am with a strange sugar bowl that you can use as a prop once every 12 months if even that often. But I got an idea last week, I will use it in a personal challenge that might be useful for you, I have decided to make a three part installment here on Lucullian, I will use my sugar bowl to show you how to create different moods and setting with the same prop and as this is a quite distinctive one, from now called The Prop, I will really need to work hard to make this work out. Wish me luck.

bell peppers

I will start with the most obvious choice, I’m going for reds and pinks. I wanted to create a mood that reflects the feeling I get from looking at The Prop. I have a vision of Russian shawls, you know those with vivid reds and pinks in them so I made a dive into the piles of fabric I have accumulated in my little studio (I really need to put some order there and very soon) and came out with a piece of pink velvet and then added the vibrant dark pink creped paper as a background. The rest of the props had to be red. Then over to the question of the food; I have lists with recipe ideas laying around so I took a look at these and found the perfect dish for this shoot, a peperonata! I had this idea of adding some of the Peppadews that we all got from one of our sponsors at the Plate To Page Tuscany Workshop last October (if you are interested in a high quality workshop in food photography and food writing to a very reasonable price, there is still a space left for you – register here.) to my usual peperonata recipe to give some heat to it all. I really like peperonata a lot, it is tasty and you can vary it quite a bit by adding potatoes and olives among many things but here I just used olives. In a traditional peperonata you use onions but I prefer to use leek as it gives such a nice flavour. Come to think of it, my peperonata version actually comes from different sources, the olives comes from a lady called Romana, the potatoes from Paola and the leek from yet another cook so it is a perfect example how cooking evolves through the years and the cooks you meet.
Peperonata With Peppadews and Olives_


serves 4

1 leek, you can also take an onion 
2 yellow or red bell peppers cut into sticks
12-15 Peppadew peppers
20-25 black olives 
300 ml/ 1,2 cup thick tomato sauce
extra-virgin olive oil

   Cut the leek into quite thick slices and cook gently in some olive oil in a pan or skillet until transparent, be careful not to burn them.

   Add the bell peppers and keep on cooking for another 8-10 minutes when you add the Peppedews and the olives, keep on cooking for a five minutes more.

   Add the tomato sauce, adjust salt to taste and cook for another 15 minutes. Serve hot or cold.

Peperonata With Peppadews and Olives -4