Saturday, March 26, 2011

Grandma's Italian Comfort Food: Peppers and Eggs

Whenever I make peppers and eggs I think of my grandmother. Grandma Palanza's were delicious, especially in a sandwich she made for me one day. I was moving from Cape Cod to Syracuse, NY, and stopped by her house to visit and say goodbye. Being one of 65 grandchildren those of us that lived a distance from her didn't have a lot of one-on-one time. We were usually a big crowd gathered together to celebrate a special occasion. Grandma was an hour away in Mansfield, so when I got my license I made a few trips to visit her. This was one of those times when it was just the two of us. We spent the evening talking about family, food, and this new adventure in my life.

When I set off the next morning she made me a pepper and egg sandwich that she'd wrapped in the plastic bread bag. I'm pretty sure grandmothers invented re-cycling. I pulled it out in Albany and can still recall the taste of that delicious creation. Is there anything better than homemade food while you're on the road? I don't think so. When I looked at that plastic bag my heart was touched by the love, kindness, and care that she bestowed on me, her grandchild. While I was one of many, having this time alone with her made me feel very special. She always loved hearing about what you were doing, what the rest of the family was up to, and sharing stories about her own children. It was quiet and intimate, which is a treat when you come from such a large extended family. It gave you the opportunity to see a quieter side of Grandma, and get to know her a bit better. She shared deeper feelings than one usually does when in a large crowd.

After eating the sandwich, I realized that I'd left my Nikkormat camera at her house. I pulled over at the next rest stop and called her. Yes, we had to use a pay phone in those days. She had the camera, and assured me that she would pack it carefully and send it to my new address. I'll admit I was a little nervous and unsure of it arriving in one piece. What did Grandma know about packing up a fancy camera? Actually, she knew a lot. A week later I received the box. She had carefully wrapped the camera, then packed it with rags and newspaper (no foam pellets then either), and it arrived without a scratch. That box had a lot more than just my camera in it.

So to make peppers and eggs like Grandma:

Slice 2 medium green peppers into 1/2 inch slices. Saute them in olive oil. Be sure the pan is pretty hot so you can brown up the peppers nicely. Salt and pepper to taste. Remove from the pan and set aside. I spray the pan with a little cooking spray. Beat 6 eggs in a bowl (I use Pete and Gerry's Organic), then add to the warmed pan. Sprinkle with a small handful of grated percorino romano cheese.  As the eggs start to set up, add the peppers back into the eggs and finish cooking to your liking. Serve on your favorite bread. I used Bays Multi-grain English muffins.

Thanks, Grandma. xo

(Photo by Alexandra Iseman)


  1. Did you say 65 grandchildren??? OMG. How is that even possible?? My grandma made this too! Must have been "of an era!" Now I might just have to make it tomorrow for old times sake. Thanks for the memories!

  2. This is one of my favorite breakfast foods! In Serbia peppers are pale-green and triangular, but everything else is the same. I can almost smell it! Thanks for reminding me of this dish:) I think my girls need to eat it more often.
    I am still reeling - 65 grandchildren? Unbelievable! But having your extended family near by is beautiful:)

  3. Carrie and Lana,
    The Jews, Italians, and Serbians share a lot across their cultures. So glad I have brought back some warm memories. Yes, that number is correct. She delivered a baby every other year for 30 years, and those 15 children yielded our lot. Growing up we were really close, too. It was truly a gift. Thanks for reading. xo