The garden spilleth over. Peppers and tomatoes – and eggplants – are coming in at an alarming rate. And cantaloupes are not far behind. Did I mention the green beans?

It’s a treasure trove of fun eating.

The challenge has been to keep it new and interesting. Yes, we can eat tomato salad every night for 5 months, but is there something else to do with those luscious red and golden orbs besides Sicilian olive oil and basil? And peppers… How many jars can I can? How much caponata can one family eat in a year?

We’ve been lucky. We’ve been able to can a lot of sauce for the coming months and a lot of the other stuff we’re canning will find its way into homes other than ours. The garden gods have been on our side. Then there’s what to do with the little bit in front of us right now. With tomatoes, a fresh sauce is a quick and easy solution.


Red and gold tomatoes blended and strained make for a really tasty sauce with the addition of a bit of basil and oregano from the garden. And just a pinch of salt and pepper. Nothing else is needed.

I poured it over stuffed shells and sausages and baked it off in the oven for 40 minutes.


The peppers have been a bit more challenging, only because Nonna no longer likes spice. If I had my way they would be going in everything. My mother said the first solid food I ate as an infant was a chili bean. I loves my spice! But making two dinners is not a real option most nights. A big tub of fried peppers in olive oil, however, is an option. And they can be added to almost anything.

Since today is Sunday, pasta and homemade bread was an easy dinner idea – and peppers inside of bread would be another way of highlighting these fiery friends.


I made a pretty basic focaccia dough and split it and filled it with sauteed peppers and cheese. Easy to do.

Pepper and Cheese Filled Focaccia


  • 1 pkg dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • pinch salt


  • 1 1/2 cups peppers. chopped, fried in oil, and cooled
  • 4 oz cheese, shredded, sliced, or crumbled
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce

Add 1 cup lukewarm water to mixer. Add yeast and let proof about 5 minutes. Add flour and and begin mixing. Add oil and continue mixing, adding additional water or flour to form a soft dough. Mix in machine about 5 minutes.

Roll dough into a ball, lightly oil bowl, and place dough in bowl. Cover and let rise until doubled – about 1 1/2-2 hours.

Take dough and form into two equal balls. Cover and let rest about 10 minutes.


Roll each dough ball out to a 9″ circle. Place one on a greased cookie sheet (or a bread peel with cornmeal.)

Brush entire top with a thin layer of tomato sauce. Distribute peppers and cheese across top.

Place second dough round on top, pressing out all air bubbles. Pinch ends to seal completely.


Brush top with tomato sauce and cut at least 4 vent holes to allow steam to escape.

Cover and let rise until doubled – about 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400°F with baking stone, if using.

Slide dough onto baking stone or place pan in oven.

Bake about 45 minutes.

Let cool before cutting.

peppers and tomatoes