Pipérade

My mother could cook just about anything. I never realized she was so talented until I was older, of course. And it wasn’t always about what she learned from cookbooks, there were also the recipes she just knew instinctively. It’s sort of like why French women are all talented cooks. Why is that?!!

For example, I remember once as a kid asking my mother if she’d make me peach dumplings. She made them, no recipe, and they were incredible. I’d have to look up a recipe for peach dumplings, and I’ve been cooking for 40+ years.

Thirty-five years ago my husband and I took my mother out to a French restaurant when she was visiting us in Houston, Texas. It didn’t go so well, mostly because of the flying cockroach. She ordered Oeufs à la Neige for dessert and disliked it. “I’ll make it for you and you’ll see what it’s supposed to taste like.”

The next day at our house, she made Oeufs à la Neige without a recipe, and it was better than the restaurant’s. When I made it for this blog, I used a recipe.

The other day I was thinking about breakfasts growing up. Let me just say that there was no cold cereal at my house. Maybe when I was 11 I discovered my friends ate Cocoa Krispies and Cocoa Puffs at their houses, and I was a bit jealous. But I also knew that my breakfasts were wonderful. Even a humble bowl of oatmeal was served with butter and cream.

My mother was a whiz at eggs. She had chickens, so we had beautiful eggs – blue, green, beige, and white eggs. Even duck eggs.

Occasionally my mother would make an omelet-like pipérade. I grew up never knowing it was a real recipe, but it is, originating from the Basque corner of France (thanks, Google.) Mom was from the Northeastern corner of France, so she must have discovered this recipe in a cookbook along the way.

What makes this egg dish somewhat different from your basic omelet choices are the vegetables and ham, and no cheese. Here I will try to duplicate her recipe.

Pipérade

6 eggs, at room temperature
Pinch of salt
2 ounces butter
1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
3 shallots, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
3-4 ripe Roma-style tomatoes, chopped, seeded, or equivalent
1/2 teaspoon piment d’Espelette
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 ounces Prosciutto, chiffonaded
Chopped parsley
Chopped basil

Beat the eggs and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.

Heat the butter in a medium pan over medium heat. Add the green pepper and sauté for about 5 minutes. It should be soft and not browned.

Stir in the shallots and garlic, and sauté for 2 minutes, preventing any browning.

Add the tomatoes, adjust the heat if necessary, and cook off any liquid in the pan.

Add the piment and stir into the tomato mixture. Set the pan aside.

In a separate skillet, I used my cast-iron skillet, heat the olive oil over high heat, and when hot, gently “sear” the ham. Remove from the skillet onto paper towels.

Reheat the same skillet over medium-low heat; you shouldn’t have to add more oil. Add the eggs, and gently move the eggs around and away from the sides with a spatula as if you’re making scrambled eggs.

Remove from the heat when the eggs are still soft, and spread the tomato mixture over the top. Then add the ham, parsley, and basil.

It was really tempting to not also serve crème fraiche with the pipérade.

But I added more piment and black pepper.

In reality there’s nothing exceptional about these eggs, but the dish is fabulous for breakfast, lunch, or brunch.

Just look at these soft eggs and all of the lovely vegetables and herbs.

By Published On: July 13th, 201876 Comments

About the Author: Chef Mimi

As a self-taught home cook, with many years in the culinary profession, I am passionate about all things food-related. Especially eating!

76 Comments

  1. Mackay Sherry July 13, 2018 at 6:10 AM - Reply

    It sounds very delicious What a clever cook your mum must have been. Cheers Sherry

    • chef mimi July 13, 2018 at 6:16 AM - Reply

      She definitely was. Thank you Sherry.

  2. Jodi July 13, 2018 at 7:02 AM - Reply

    Yummmm

    • chef mimi July 13, 2018 at 7:04 AM - Reply

      Definitely. Not your basic omelet!

  3. Travel Gourmet July 13, 2018 at 7:35 AM - Reply

    Wonderful. Such fabulous flavours. And such lovely memories of your mother. Thank you!

    • chef mimi July 13, 2018 at 7:36 AM - Reply

      She is 90 now, and doesn’t cook anymore, but she was a chef in her own right.

  4. mencanmakehomes July 13, 2018 at 7:44 AM - Reply

    The colors are very fresh and charming !

    • chef mimi July 13, 2018 at 7:45 AM - Reply

      Thank you! It’s a lovely summer breakfast. Or lunch!

      • mencanmakehomes July 13, 2018 at 7:46 AM

        true !! sufficiently filling too

  5. goatsandgreens July 13, 2018 at 7:59 AM - Reply

    I’ve never heard of Piperade… looks quite yummers!

    • chef mimi July 13, 2018 at 8:03 AM - Reply

      That’s why we all follow food blogs, right?!! There’s always something more to learn about! This is good, hope you get to try it.

  6. Ron July 13, 2018 at 8:01 AM - Reply

    Perfect for any meal in our house. I particularly like your use of the Espelette pepper. It should give the dish some depth and a nice punch in the finish. Lovely images and instructions as usual. You’re fortunate to have memories of great home cooked meal from your youth. Swanson TV dinners was about my mom’s limit. That’s what got me a cooking…

    • chef mimi July 13, 2018 at 8:05 AM - Reply

      We’re probably of similar age, and I remember learning about frozen meals in the 60’s. They came about ironically, during the women’s lib time, so I think a lot of wives and moms quit cooking, because they could. Terrible stuff. At least back then. So smart of you to learn how to cook!

  7. nagstrong12 July 13, 2018 at 8:40 AM - Reply

    Wow😋😋😋

    • chef mimi July 13, 2018 at 3:32 PM - Reply

      Thank you!

  8. Linda Duffin July 13, 2018 at 10:00 AM - Reply

    How fabulous to have a mother who could whip up anything on the spur of the moment. Mine was great at traditional English food, but don’t get me started on her spag bol!

    • chef mimi July 13, 2018 at 3:33 PM - Reply

      I won’t. Mostly because I have to look that up in my British-English dictionary.

      • Linda Duffin July 14, 2018 at 6:43 AM

        Sorry – short for spaghetti bolognese. :)

      • chef mimi July 14, 2018 at 7:51 AM

        OH!!!! It was scary sounding!

      • Linda Duffin July 14, 2018 at 8:20 AM

        You should have met my mother! :D

      • chef mimi July 14, 2018 at 8:22 AM

        Spag Bol made me think of Cullen skink, which is very good by the way. I have on mean old lady in my life, so I think I’m glad I didn’t meet your mother.

      • Linda Duffin July 14, 2018 at 8:24 AM

        I love cullen skink, must make it again when this heat wave is over. Can’t think about hot soups right now. Mothers, eh? At least ours were both good examples as cooks. xxx

      • chef mimi July 14, 2018 at 8:26 AM

        Right. And how not to behave in general.

      • Linda Duffin July 14, 2018 at 2:06 PM

        Yes, That.

  9. 2pots2cook July 13, 2018 at 10:20 AM - Reply

    Glad to read about your mother’s virtue ! My grandmother used to make most of the food by heart too and we enjoyed the meals very much ! Thank you for the lovely story :-)

    • chef mimi July 13, 2018 at 3:33 PM - Reply

      You’re so welcome!

  10. Kiki July 13, 2018 at 11:48 AM - Reply

    Wouldn’t mind at all having this for breakfast. Especially if someone cooked it for me :-)

    • chef mimi July 13, 2018 at 3:34 PM - Reply

      I wouldn’t know what that’s like!!!

  11. valentina maria kenney wein July 13, 2018 at 12:05 PM - Reply

    Like yours, my mom was an amazing cook who never used recipes. :-) To this day I’m inspired by how she just whipped things up. This recipe sounds so delicious! I’d have it for any meal of the day! I love that the prosciutto is cut into a chiffonade – that’s so pretty.

    • chef mimi July 13, 2018 at 3:34 PM - Reply

      thank you – that is the extent of my culinary creativity! But it is a lovely dish.

  12. Francesca July 13, 2018 at 5:22 PM - Reply

    lovely memories of your mother while you were growing up Mimi. I often make Piperade ( probably because I also keep chickens) and make it without ham. Your photos are looking very tempting Mimi.

    • chef mimi July 13, 2018 at 5:52 PM - Reply

      Thank you so much Francesca!

  13. Mary July 13, 2018 at 6:01 PM - Reply

    I know of Piperade but have never knowingly made it. But yours looks so inviting that I will have to soon.
    How wonderful that you still have your Mother to talk to even if she doesn’t cook anymore. She laid a good foundation in you with your lovely recipes.

    • chef mimi July 14, 2018 at 7:47 AM - Reply

      I think the best thing she did was to expose us to many ingredients from various cuisines. And we were always encouraged to try everything. I didn’t really learn to cook from her, because she didn’t want anyone in the kitchen, but when I started cooking I was familiar with many ingredients and foods, including “exotic” ones! Thank you!

  14. Kelly, RD July 13, 2018 at 10:45 PM - Reply

    I love reading stories about your mom!

    • chef mimi July 14, 2018 at 7:47 AM - Reply

      Thanks, Kelly!

  15. grumpytyke July 14, 2018 at 12:54 AM - Reply

    I slavishly followed recipes, especially from Julia Childs and Elizabeth David when, around 50 years ago, I had aspirations to be a cordon bleu cook. Now I almost never follow them though I often look to food bloggers like you for inspiration to serve ‘something different’. The one exception is Stephane (you know who I mean) and I make one of his simplest, prawns flamed in Ricard, following him to the letter although I don’t need his blog as the recipe is firmly imprinted in my head.
    I make a kind of piperade regularly but as neither I nor my wife like the kind of cooked tomatoes involved it’s a bit different.
    I wouldn’t say my mother was an excellent cook, but a very good basic English cook whose stew and dumplings were a delight to come home to after a trek from school through deep snow. And I still make scrambled eggs, I say the best in the world (but many would not agree) exactly as she taught me.

  16. chef mimi July 14, 2018 at 7:51 AM - Reply

    Very interesting. I started cooking regularly when I married in 1982. My books were the Time Life Foods of the World Series that my mother, of course, had given me. These days, it’s hard to follow a recipe, even if I want to, but that’s the beauty of being a home cook. I would not have done well in cooking school! I really appreciate your compliment, and yes, I know Stephane well. His simple roasted chicken with olives blew me away!!!

  17. David July 14, 2018 at 10:20 AM - Reply

    I love hearing about your mother – she sounds just wonderful. And you and I have something in common (Well, probably lots of things!) – I never had a cold breakfast until I went to college! Mom made us a hot breakfast every day… I remember her horror when my older brothers started drinking Carnation Instant Breakfast Drink!

    • chef mimi July 14, 2018 at 11:00 AM - Reply

      Hahahaha! That’s too funny!

  18. Greedyeats -Neha July 14, 2018 at 12:48 PM - Reply

    Wow this looks so delicious. Also your mother sounds like a wonderful chef!

    • chef mimi July 14, 2018 at 2:50 PM - Reply

      She was certainly a chef in her own right.

  19. Greg Henry (@sippitysup) July 14, 2018 at 8:03 PM - Reply

    To be a good cook you need to be willing to learn from everyone, to have great taste (which is a gift) and to have the ability to think like a child. I think that’s why so many cooks are so heavily influenced by a parent who cooks. In your case (and mine) a mother… GREG

    • chef mimi July 15, 2018 at 7:11 AM - Reply

      The only problem was that she was so intense about cooking that she never let us in the kitchen. We’d just get yelled at. So I could have learned more but she didn’t have that type of personality. But I did get to taste food, and that helped me out when i started cooking.

  20. canelakitchen July 14, 2018 at 9:23 PM - Reply

    Your mom sounds amazing ! This looks wonderful and delicious!

    • chef mimi July 15, 2018 at 7:11 AM - Reply

      Thank you. She was very talented!

  21. Fran @ G'day Souffle' July 14, 2018 at 9:24 PM - Reply

    Yes, the French do have a way with eggs- I learned how to make those very creamy French scrambled eggs- who would have thought you could do something slightly different with scrambled eggs?

    • chef mimi July 15, 2018 at 7:09 AM - Reply

      It’s a lovely recipe, Fran. And yes, it’s not an omelet exactly. And it’s rare I eat an egg dish without cheese!

  22. Jeff the Chef July 14, 2018 at 9:32 PM - Reply

    Sounds like your mom was absolutely amazing! I’ve never heard of this dish before. But shallots, garlic, tomatoes, Prosciutto, basil … it sounds perfect for summer!

    • chef mimi July 15, 2018 at 7:08 AM - Reply

      I remember as a kid I dislike chewing on parsley, but now I adore parsley, and yes, all of the ingredients work beautifully together.

  23. Gather and Graze July 14, 2018 at 10:28 PM - Reply

    What a beautiful post Mimi! Loved hearing about both your Mom and this beautiful Piperade… which makes a delicious breakfast, or even an easy Sunday night dinner!

    • chef mimi July 15, 2018 at 7:07 AM - Reply

      Thank you. Yes it would be good any time of day!

  24. Ashley DeKam July 15, 2018 at 6:47 PM - Reply

    I believe YOU are a whiz in the kitchen! Keep it up!

    • chef mimi July 15, 2018 at 7:40 PM - Reply

      So sweet. Thanks.

  25. StefanGourmet July 16, 2018 at 12:57 AM - Reply

    This looks great and what a nice way to pay tribute to your mother.

    • chef mimi July 16, 2018 at 8:02 AM - Reply

      Thanks, Stefan. She’s 90 now, and doesn’t cook anymore. She lives alone, so that doesn’t help.

  26. FrugalHausfrau July 16, 2018 at 1:00 AM - Reply

    My Mom was the same way, although not from France and I think it’s something the older generation did a lot more easily than us, cooking w/o a recipe. I know I’d love these – my Mom made a Basque Chicken she got from the Gallopiing Gourmet and it was always a family favorite.

    • chef mimi July 16, 2018 at 8:01 AM - Reply

      Oh I remember him! Didn’t he smoke and drink during his shows?!!

      • FrugalHausfrau July 16, 2018 at 2:37 PM

        I think he might have. He was always dressed to the tee and seemed like a 60’s kind of playboy!!

  27. David @ Spiced July 16, 2018 at 7:54 AM - Reply

    You’re mother sounds like a really skilled lady, Mimi! I grew up around my mom who was always in the kitchen, too. She liked to bake by ‘feel’ but she also had piles and piles of recipes that she had pulled out of magazines and such. I remember her saying one time that once you get good, you can tell a good recipe just by looking at it. I thought that was crazy, but now I understand what she meant. And I can say that this piperade recipe is a good one! :-)

    • chef mimi July 16, 2018 at 8:00 AM - Reply

      Thank you. It is good. You definitely can tell what a recipe will become by looking at it! Never really thought about it.

  28. Culinary Flavors July 17, 2018 at 6:49 AM - Reply

    Moms are amazing aren’t they? Especially the older generation’s ones that never used a specific recipe and the magic was exactly in that. The same food had never the same taste. each time was different. I love your omelet and it is the best way to start your day!

    • chef mimi July 17, 2018 at 6:59 AM - Reply

      Thank you so much!

  29. heather (delicious not gorgeous) July 17, 2018 at 5:07 PM - Reply

    yum! i end up eating eggs a lot (they’re so easy!), so this sounds like a good way to mix things up so that i don’t end up eating salt + pepper scrambled eggs *again* (;

    • chef mimi July 23, 2018 at 7:01 AM - Reply

      Exactly! And the topping can be made ahead of time, so the dish works for company as well!

  30. nahdalaskitchen July 18, 2018 at 1:30 AM - Reply

    I’m not a morning person, and before I had at least 3 cups of coffee, I’m not a breakfast person either, but this one made me – currently on my second cup of coffee – really hungry~! The colors alone made me wake up some more and smile :D Great recipe, thanks for sharing~

    • chef mimi July 18, 2018 at 8:11 AM - Reply

      That’s so sweet! Thank you!

  31. Frank Fariello July 20, 2018 at 8:34 AM - Reply

    I’ve been meaning to make piperade ever since I first read about it in Julia Child’s Art of French Cooking. That was an embarrassingly long time ago… This version is different, but looks every bit as delicious. I really do need to hop to it.

    • chef mimi July 20, 2018 at 3:18 PM - Reply

      I’ll have to check out her recipe! All I know is this is what my mother made, but I’m sure there are many versions, and I’ve seen a sauce referred to as a piperade.

  32. kathryninthekitchen July 21, 2018 at 3:35 AM - Reply

    How blessed you are to have had such a wonderful influence. I was so amazed when I read this post (catching up as work has consumed me of late) as I am making a Pipérade Tart this weekend – a tester for a girls get away in a few weeks…. this looks delicious and something I will try.

    • chef mimi July 21, 2018 at 7:15 AM - Reply

      Oh great! And you can make the topping ahead of time, so it’s just about the eggs at the last minute. Love getaways with the girlfriends!

  33. bakingintheburbs July 21, 2018 at 6:51 AM - Reply

    That looks wonderful and your mom sounds like a dream in the kitchen.

    • chef mimi July 21, 2018 at 7:12 AM - Reply

      She’s 90 now and doesn’t cook, but still loves good food!

      • bakingintheburbs July 21, 2018 at 9:28 AM

        That’s wonderful. I hope you get to spend lots of time together.

  34. Kim Bultman July 23, 2018 at 5:49 PM - Reply

    Mimi, your scrambled egg curds resembled “Julia’s” (or at least that’s how they looked when I followed her recipe — with a lavish amount of butter — ha!) The story behind your dish is as beautiful as the plated results and that last “fork” photo is tempting me to make this for breakfast. Thank you!

    • chef mimi July 23, 2018 at 5:49 PM - Reply

      You should try it. It’s unique!

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