Basque country is known for its tomatoes and peppers—and nowhere are they showcased more than within a traditional pipérade.

The term pipérade dates from the early 19th century and is derived from the Latin word “piper” which means—not surprisingly—pepper.

This dish is to the Basque country what Ratatouille is to Provence. It can be served as an appetizer in which to dip bread, or as a heartier main dish. The eggs in the recipe are not mixed into the sauce; rather, they are cracked into indentations made in the surface of the sauce, where they coagulate and turn white in the heat of the oven. Made with bell peppers, tomatoes and fresh herbs, the bright pipérade colors reflect the red, green and white of the Basque flag.

France vs. Spain

Although you’ll only visit the Spanish side with AmaWaterways, Basque Country is comprised of seven European provinces—three of which can be found in southwestern France. Basque culture in Northern Spain is vibrant, spicy and diverse, particularly when it comes to food, like pintxhos (Basque tapas) and sagardotegi (Basque cider houses only found in Spain). Basque Spain is also home to the Running of the Bulls.

Basque France is somewhat more reserved and moves to the speed of its verdant countryside—although the town of Espelette, from which a pepper condiment of the same name is derived, holds a lively annual festival to celebrate the peppers of its pipérade. However, differences in cuisine and personality aside, a love of pipérade is shared across the border

Should you choose to sail on an AmaWaterways Taste of Bordeaux cruise and join our 4-night Basque Country land extension, you’ll likely have an opportunity to savor this dish in Bilbao or San Sebastián. But you can just as easily make it for yourself at home!

Ingredients
2-3 large ripe garden tomatoes, chopped (or 1 14.5 oz. can whole peeled tomatoes)
8 oz. pureed tomatoes (optional)
2-3 whole roasted sweet red bell peppers, chopped
10-15 cloves fresh sliced garlic
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
3-4 large eggs (optional)
1 tsp smoked Spanish paprika or piment d'espelette
½ tsp chili powder
1 bay leaf
½ tsp salt
½ tsp fresh cracked black pepper
½ tsp sugar (optional)
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
6-8 slices of crusty bread, brushed with olive oil

Preparation

Preheat oven to 450°F. Sauté the onions and sliced garlic in olive oil on medium high heat until translucent (5-7 minutes). Add the spices and “bloom” them out (sauté until you start to smell them). Add tomatoes. Break them up with a metal spoon if canned, and then add roasted red peppers. Add bay leaf and season to taste with salt and pepper. Turn heat down to low and simmer for 25-30 minutes. Adjust seasoning if needed.

Place about 2 cups of the finished product in an oven-proof cast iron pan (a small paella pan works great). Make resting places for your eggs with a spoon and crack one egg into each of those spots (crack into a bowl first to help with pouring and to avoid the risk of a cracked shell falling into the stew).

Bake for 7-10 minutes, until the egg whites begin to set, but the yolk remains runny. Slice and grill bread and serve with dish.

Makes 4 servings.

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