Pipérade revisitée – Pipérade avec crostino de Polenta et oeuf de caille

This “Pipérade Revisited” is a colorful dish, simply because it really represents what Citron et Vanille is all about…French, Italian, Mediterranean cuisine with a contemporary twist, using local ingredients.

Pipérade is a traditional Basque recipe (piper meaning pepper in Occitan language) made with Basque peppers, Piment d’Espelette, onions and tomatoes. I twisted it a little to adapt the whole dish with local ingredients and make it a little less traditional with the quail egg. I also used poblano peppers that are a great alternative to Basque peppers and widely available in California.

Usually the egg is added at the end of the cooking process inside the pipérade, I added mine on top of the polenta crostino. The  Jambon de Bayonne (a basque cured ham) is also traditionally cooked and added inside the pipérade. I used Serrano ham, but prosciutto di parma works perfectly fine too. In this version, I grilled the ham and added on the side.

For the crostino, polenta has been cooked in a broth infused with thyme and finished with Basque sheep cheese such as Etorki, but Petit Basque can be a fair alternative if you cannot find Etorki. I topped it all with the cutest of all the eggs, quail egg. I love to substitute quail eggs to regular eggs, they do add an elegant finish to a small bite. This is a very versatile dish, you can serve it as a canape, an appetizer, then you need about 2 per person or make bigger crostoni and serve it as a main course. On fait comme on veut! we do as we please! Now knowing how much I adore making small bites, that’s how I serve mine.

For the polenta, you can use the express polenta, or the regular one which takes over one hour to prepare. It’s up to you, if you have time or not. The express polenta is an alternative when the focus of a dish is not on polenta like this one, and is an add-on.

Ingredients for 4

For the pipérade

  • 1 large onion, minced
  • 3 poblano peppers, sliced thin lengthwise
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced thin lengthwise
  • 4 large ripe tomatoes, peeled and seeds removed
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tbs fresh thyme, chopped
  • Piment d’Espelette
  • 4 slices cured ham such as Jambon de Bayonne, Serrano ham or Prosciutto di Parma
  • 4 quail eggs
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper

For the polenta crostino

  • 7 oz (or 200 g) polenta
  • 3 cups (or 700 ml) vegetable broth
  • 1 tbs thyme, chopped finely
  • 2 tbs Etorki, grated + some for the shavings
  • salt and pepper
  • one pinch of sugar


For the Pipérade

Heat olive oil in a pan and add onions. When onions are soft and golden brown, add peppers. Cook for out 10 minutes, then add tomates, garlic and herbs, salt and pepper. Adjust with sugar since the tomatoes tend to add a little acidity. Cover and cook slowly for about 30-45 minutes until the pipérade has reached a thick consistency and all the water has evaporated.

For the polenta crostino

Bring broth to a boil, add thyme. Let it boil for a few minutes, then add polenta. Keep stirring until the polenta has absorbed the broth (depending on which type polenta you used). When the polenta is cooked, adjust with salt and add cheese, stir until the cheese has melted and is well incorporated into the polenta.

Pour polenta in a flat tray, the polenta needs to be 1.5 cm thick. Let it cool. When cooled cut with cookie ring of about 6 cm diameter. Grill polenta in a grill pan. Grill each ham slice.

Heat olive oil in a pan, and cook quail eggs, sunny side up. Add salt and pepper.

Using a Ring, form a small tower with tapenade, top it with polenta crostino, add a quail egg, shave some cheese on top, and serve it with a slice of cured ham.