Sausage and Peppers

Sausage and Peppers

Chandra Prasad:
Sausage and Peppers
(Mrs. DeRisio’s Famous Sausage and Peppers)

A simple and delicious recipe for Italian sausages and peppers.


Marie DeRisio is the figurative mother in On Borrowed Wings. She is, in many ways, more nurturing than Adele Pietra’s actual mother, Gertrude. Always ready with a warm meal and a word of support, Mrs. DeRisio accomplishes wonders in her tiny, overcrowded tenement. This humble home is a safe haven for Adele, particularly when she fears she cannot maintain the charade of being a boy. Though Mrs. DeRisio does not suspect that Adele is anyone other than a rather slight male freshman, the reader knows better. The reader knows, too, how much Adele actually has in common with Marie. For one thing, both love homemade Italian fare. Sausages and Peppers is a recipe Adele enjoys frequently at the DeRisio home.

My mother’s mother, who is known to everyone as “Nonnie,” is one hundred percent Italian and a marvelous cook. Like Mrs. DeRisio, Nonnie has a knack for concocting delicious foods in about the same time as it takes most people to set the table. Though she is over 90 now, Nonnie is still an active hostess, with no shortage of guests or creative recipe ideas. Nonnie inspired both the character of Marie DeRisio and this particular dish.

In On Borrowed Wings, Mrs. DeRisio’s Famous Sausage and Peppers is one reason why Marie’s kitchen is always crowded! Friends, relatives, and neighbors just can’t get their fill of this classic recipe. Fortunately, there’s always enough to go around. Best eaten with a fork and a spoon, and a crusty loaf of Italian bread.

Mrs. DeRisio’s Famous Sausage and Peppers

Prep time: 1 hour

1 pound hot or sweet Italian sausage
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
8 large bell peppers (red and green), seeded and
sliced into long, thin strips
8 plum tomatoes, diced
Salt and pepper to taste
1 dash white wine (optional)
Small cluster of fresh basil leaves

  1. Cut sausage into 1” pieces. Heat olive oil in a deep pot, preferably cast iron. Brown sausage over medium high heat, stirring frequently. Add remaining ingredients, except basil and wine, and stir. Turn heat to high, and bring contents to a boil. Add a dash of white wine—two if you’re feeling brave. Put the bottle aside. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 25 minutes, covered. Stir occasionally.
  2. Remove cover and continue cooking at medium heat to reduce liquid, another 10 minutes or until desired consistency is reached. Remove from heat. Garnish sausage and peppers with fresh basil leaves, torn into little pieces by hand. Serve immediately, preferably with a glass of white wine from the remainder of the bottle.

Yield: 3-4 servings