In Sara’s dishes local produce (from Abruzzi Region) are always at the center of her recipes. Here’s one of them: the Altino Sweet Pepper, a key ingredient in her Red Spaghetti alla Chitarra, also a typical pasta from the Italian Central-Eastern Region.
Bell peppers are the fruits of Capsicum annum species (Solanaceae family), widely cultivated all over the world. Can be used as vegetables, but it’s the dehydration processing of bell pepper – practiced all over the world – to increase its storage time and convert these veggies into value-added products, utilized as spices in traditional gastronomy or as natural coloring/flavoring agents in various preparations.
“In Altino case – in the Sangro valley – these sweet peppers are harvested from the end of August to mid-October.”
Regarding the Altino peppers. The first document reporting the local cultivation is a notarial deed from 1752.
The color, taste, and aroma characteristics highly depend on the cultivation site and cultivation practices, and the kind of dehydration process (sun-drying, oven-drying, or smoking) adopted locally.
In Altino case – in the Sangro valley – these sweet peppers are harvested from the end of August to mid-October. Then, they are air-dried after threading the peduncles with a string and hanging them, taking the typical name of “crollo” or “serta”, a sort of necklaces of dry peppers
The spice is obtained by grinding the air-dried bell peppers, after these have been toasted in an oven.
“Regarding the Altino peppers. The first document reporting the local cultivation is a notarial deed from 1752.”
The peppers can also be ground in the typical mortars called “piloni” where, the powder obtained, wondrously retains its sweet taste and aromatics, and its intense red color.
This pepper is the absolute hero of a local festival held at the end of August, and there is also an association for the protection of this product, that has drawn up the production specification and aims to obtain the PDO status: Protected Designation of Origin.
While waiting for the prestigious acronym, let’s enjoy Sara’s recipe: Red “Spaghetti alla Chitarra” that features an icon of Abruzzo gastronomy and Buon Appetibilis!