Hot and Sweet Pepper Crostini

crostini peppers

Late summer reaps brimming bushels of peppers in a kaleidoscope of color and shapes. I shop with my eyes, because the first thing I do when I get home is pile my peppers into a bowl where they do double-duty as a decorative centerpiece. Gnarly basques, pristine cherries, sturdy pimentos, and pert jalapeños vie for my attention, and I slowly pick away at my psychedelic pile of peppers as I cook throughout the week, adding them to salads, stews, pasta, and pizzas.

This simple recipe showcases a colorful assortment peppers on crostini and makes a great starter to a meal. I like to use a mix of sweet and hot for more complex flavor. When using hot peppers, such as poblanos, serranos, and jalapeños, remember that they can vary in heat, so take a small bite to test their strength. The heat is concentrated in the ribs and seeds of the pepper, so remove as much as desired with kitchen gloves or the tip of a paring knife to protect your fingers from the oils.

Hot and Sweet Pepper Crostini with Mozzarella

Choose a variety of peppers to your taste – for this recipe I used poblanos, hungarian pimentos, and gypsy peppers. Makes 12 large crostini.

Crostini:
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
Pinch of salt
12 slices baguette, cut on the diagonal, ½-inch thick

Peppers:
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 pound sweet summer peppers, stemmed and seeded, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus extra for garnish

8 ounces buffalo mozzarella, thinly sliced
¼ cup basil leaves, torn into small pieces

Make the crostini:
Heat the oven to 375°F. Whisk the oil, garlic, and salt in a small bowl. Arrange the bread on a baking sheet and lightly brush with the oil. Transfer to the oven and bake until the bread is lightly toasted, 12 to 15 minutes.

Saute the peppers:
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the peppers and saute until crisp tender, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, salt, and black pepper and saute 1 minute. Remove from heat.

Arrange a slice of mozzarella over each crostini. Top with some of the peppers. Broil in the oven until the cheese begins to melt, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove and  garnish with fresh basil.  Serve immediately.

Duck Crostini with Radicchio Slaw and Roasted Apricots

Duck Crostini TasteFood
Messy is ok sometimes – especially when you are heaping lots of delectables onto crisp crostini. In such the case it’s inevitable that some of the ingredients will tumble onto the plate, creating random ‘garnishes’. This is when the term rustic comes in handy. Rustic implies comfort and nothing too fancy, with an emphasis on adjectives such as finger-licking and delicious. Or at least that’s how it works here.

Crostini are a fun way to present a light and casual meal. They are also a great way to showcase simple fresh ingredients and use up interesting leftovers. For this recipe I used duck meat that was leftover from my current cookbook project. I shredded the leg meat and quickly caramelized it in the oven, then mounded it over the toasts. While chances are you may not have leftover duck loitering in the back of your fridge, duck legs can usually be found at your local market or butcher. Otherwise, shredded pork is a great substitute. The point is to have a little fun building your crostini, and try to be creative with what you’ve got. And it’s ok if they are messy – just call them rustic.

Duck Crostini with Radicchio and Apricots
Makes  12

Radicchio slaw:
1 small head radicchio, shredded
1  1/2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1  1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
Pinch of black pepper

2 apricots, halved and pitted
Vegetable oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

6 (1/2-inch thick) ciabatta or sourdough bread slices, cut in half
Extra-virgin olive oil
Salt

Duck:
8 ounces cooked and shredded duck leg meat with skin
1 tablespoon rendered duck fat (or vegetable oil)
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Coarsely chopped Italian parsley leaves for garnish

1. Combine the radicchio slaw ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine. Let stand at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.
2. Heat the oven to 375°F. Brush the apricots with oil and lightly season with salt and pepper. Place in a baking dish and bake, skin-side down, until the flesh is soft, about 10 minutes. Remove and cool; do not turn off the oven.
3. Arrange the bread slices in one layer on a baking tray. Brush the bread  with the olive oil and lightly season with salt. Bake in the oven until golden and crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove and cool.
4. Turn on the oven broiler. Combine the duck ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine. Spread in a baking dish and broil until brown and beginning to crisp in parts, 3 to 4 minutes, stirring once.
6. Drain the radicchio. Arrange the bread on a serving platter. Mound some of the radicchio over each bread slice. Top with a few pieces of duck and a small dollop of apricot flesh. Garnish with parsley and additional salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Ricotta Beet Bruschette with Garden Pesto

beet pesto plate tastefood
There’s something very pleasing about an open-faced sandwich a.k.a. bruschetta in Italy, tartine in France, or smørrebrød in Scandinavia. The filling becomes the topping, which is a lovely reflection of the sum of its parts and a visual tease, beckoning a bite. It begins with day old bread which gets a revitalizing browning on the grill. From there you can get as creative as you like. This rendition includes fresh ricotta, roasted beets and a generous smear of a garden pesto I made with parsley and mint.

Ricotta Beet Bruschette with Garden Pesto
Makes 6.

Garden Pesto:
2 cups fresh parsley
1 cup fresh mint
1 small garlic clove
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra as needed
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

6 slices day-old ciabatta or country loaf bread, about 3/4-inch thick each
Extra-virgin olive oil
Fresh ricotta cheese
6 roasted and peeled baby beets, cut into wedges
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Fresh baby oregano and thyme flowers

Make the pesto:
Place the parsley, mint, and garlic in the bowl of a food processor. Process until finely chopped. With the motor running add the 1/2 cup oil in a steady stream until blended. If too thick, add extra oil to your desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper.

Heat the oven broiler or a grill. Brush the bread slices with oil. Broil or grill until toasted golden on both sides but still tender in the center. Remove and cool the bread for 5 minutes. Smear the ricotta on the bread, then drizzle some of the pesto over the ricotta. Top with beets. Brush the beets with a little oil and season the bruschetta with salt and pepper. Garnish with fresh oregano and thyme flowers. Serve whole or cut in half for smaller bites.

Tomato Bruschetta

tomato bruschetta tastefood

Posted by Lynda Balslev

When I make tomato bruschetta, my family always says, “Summer food!” And so it is – especially when it’s made on the grill. Everything happens on our grill year round, I mean, during the summer. For this recipe slices of baguette get all toasty and charred on the Weber. Believe me, it’s worth the step for the flavor and saves you from the heat of the oven broiler. The grilled bread is then smothered with fresh chopped tomatoes infused with fresh basil from the garden, garlic and a glugg of olive oil. So simple, so good. If you could have summer in a mouthful, this would be it.

Tomato Bruschetta

I like the rustic presentation of halved baguette sections. Alternatively, slice the baguette on the diagonal 1/2-inch thick. Serves 4 to 6.

1 1/2 pounds vine ripened tomatoes
3 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup basil leaves, torn in small pieces
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 baguette

Cut each tomato in half, and scoop out the juices and seeds with your fingers or a small spoon. Cut the tomatoes into 1/4-inch dice and place in a bowl. Add 1 minced garlic clove, the olive oil, basil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Gently stir to combine and taste for seasoning. If you don’t have super sweet tomatoes yet, a pinch of sugar may be added.

Cut the baguette crosswise into 3-inch sections. Halve each section lengthwise.
Grill the bread slices until toasted, turning once. Arrange on a platter cut-side up. Peel 2 garlic cloves and slightly crush with a knife. Rub the garlic cloves over the bread.

Avocado Bruschetta with Balsamic Syrup

Avocado Bruschetta with Balsamic Syrup

Avocado, Balsamic Syrup, Sea Salt, Grilled Bread

The avocado is a healthy staple in our California kitchen.  Avocados are packed with vitamins, minerals and fiber and high in monounsaturated fat.  They are rich in potassium, zinc, and B vitamins, as well as vitamins C, E and K.  Due to their creamy texture and subtle flavor, the avocado is a perfect base for dips, drinks and even ice cream, while their coolness provides a foil to spice and heat in salsas and salads. Having said that, my favorite way to eat an avocado is on grilled bread with lemon and sea salt. When I feel extra fancy, I reduce balsamic vinegar to a viscous syrup which I  paint on the avocado slices. The only adornment required is a pinch of sea salt and a shower of black pepper. It’s simple, sublime and all about the avocado.  Continue reading Avocado Bruschetta

Pear, Blue Cheese and Arugula Bruschetta

Pear, Blue Cheese and Arugula Bruschetta

~ Pear, Blue Cheese, Arugula, Walnuts, Levain ~

Who knew leftovers could taste so good? Day old country-style bread studded with cranberries and walnuts, a chunk of Point Reyes Blue cheese and miniature red pears were remnants of a cheese board I made over the weekend. Day old bread, as un-sexy as that may sound, is a kitchen workhorse – resurrected as toast, crostini, breadcrumbs; folded into puddings and dressings, or swathed in egg and pan-fried. I kept it simple. I topped lightly toasted bread with slices of the blue cheese and pear (culinary best friends), and freshened the pile with a few wisps of arugula and a brush of lemon. What were last weekend’s cheese board stars and today’s less-than-fresh bread made a comeback in this delicious appetizer.

Pear, Blue Cheese and Arugula Bruschetta

If you don’t have a fruit and nut bread, use a country style or levain bread and top the bruschetta with coarsely chopped walnuts. Makes 4.

2 – (1/4 inch thick) slices of walnut or levain bread, halved
Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt
2 ounces blue cheese such as Point Reyes or Gorgonzola
1/2 cup arugula
2 small red pears, halved, cored, sliced thin
Lemon
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven broiler. Lightly brush the bread slices with olive oil and sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt. Broil until lightly golden on both sides, 1-2 minutes. Remove from oven and cool slightly. Arrange a layer of thinly sliced blue cheese over the bread. Cover the cheese with a few sprigs of arugula. Fan one half of a pear over the arugula. Brush the pear with lemon juice. Sprinkle with a little freshly ground black pepper. Serve immediately.

Peach and Blue Cheese Bruschetta with Honey and Thyme

Peach and Blue Cheese Bruschetta with Honey and Thyme

Organic California peaches are now available in our market, and I am very excited. When I see peaches it means that summer is just around the corner. Hard to believe, I know, but in a few weeks school will be out, and the summer holiday will stretch ahead with unstructured time, travel, camps and sunny activities.

For now, I will focus on the peaches. This recipe combines fragrant peaches with crumbly blue cheese, a drizzle of honey and thyme. The flavors play off and elevate each other in wonderful harmony. For extra freshness and crunch, arugula may be added as a bed for the peaches. It’s all good.



Peach and Blue Cheese Bruschetta with Honey and Thyme
Makes 4

4 slices country-style bread, cut 1/4 inch thick
Extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt
2 ripe, but not too soft, peaches, halved and pitted
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
Runny honey
Thyme sprigs

Preheat oven broiler. Arrange bread slices on a baking pan with a rack. Brush both sides with olive oil. Sprinkle with a little sea salt. Broil, turning once, until golden brown on both sides. Remove and transfer slices to a plate or platter.
Thinly slice peach halves. Arrange on bread, overlapping slightly. Sprinkle blue cheese over the peaches. Drizzle with honey and garnish with thyme sprigs.