Tag Archives: entertaining

Ricotta Crostoni with Peperonata

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When you’re passionate about food, it becomes surprisingly difficult to play favorites. That’s why I have a hard time selecting dishes for this blog; it’s so hard to choose.

That being said, I know I have a winning dish when I make it more than once. I have used this recipe as my go-to for recent potlucks and get togethers with friends. There are only a few ingredients, and the peppers can be made up to three days ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator. I think you will love this dish because it puts a classic spin on your traditional bruschetta. Enjoy and Happy Holidays!

Ricotta Crostoni with Peperonta*

*adapted from Nancy Silverton’s Mozza cookbook. This is an Italian must-buy for your cookbook collection!

You will need:

1/2-inch-thick slices from a loaf of pane rustica or another large, flat peasant loaf

Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing the bread

1 garlic clove

Sea salt (or fleur de sel if you want to be fancy)

fresh coarsely ground black pepper

3 cups fresh ricotta

1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh Italian parsley leaves

For the peperonata (makes 1 quart):

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 large red onion, halved and sliced 1/4 inch thick

1/4 cup thinly sliced garlic (about 10 large cloves)

2 yellow bell peppers, cored, seeded, and sliced 1/4 inch thick

2 orange bell peppers, cored, seeded, and sliced 1/4 inch thick

2 red bell peppers, cored, seeded, and sliced 1/4 inch thick

1 tablespoon Spanish sherry vinegar

1 tablespoon dried oregano

2 teaspoons sugar

1 cup Basic Tomato Sauce or Marinara

1/2 cup pitted Nicoise olives

2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh Italian parsley leaves

To make the peperonata:

1. Adjust oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 350°. Heat oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat until it is almost smoking and slides easily in the pan, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the onion and garlic, season with one teaspoon of sea salt and several turns of pepper, and saute, stirring occasionally to prevent the onion and garlic from browning, until the onion is tender and translucent, 5 to 7 minutes.

2. Add the peppers, season with the remaining teaspoon of salt, and saute until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the vinegar, oregano, and sugar, and stir to combine the ingredients. Stir in the tomato sauce and cook for about 2 minutes to meld the flavors. Taste for seasoning and add more salt or pepper, if desired.

3. Transfer the peperonata to a large baking dish (at least 9 by 13 inches) or a large, ovenproof skillet and smooth the top with a wooden spoon or spatula to make it level. Place the peperonata in the oven to bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven, stir in the olives, and return it to the oven for 30 to 35 minutes, until the top is charred, especially around the edges.

4. Remove the peperonata from the oven and allow it to cool for at least 10 minutes before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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To make the ricotta crostoni:

1. Adjust oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 350° or preheat a sandwich press.

2. Place the bread slices on a baking sheet, brush the tops with olive oil, and back them for 15 to 20 minutes, until they’re golden brown and crisp. Alternatively, brush both sides of the bread slices with olive oil and toast them in a sandwich press.

3. Remove the crostoni from the oven and rub the oiled sides of the crostoni with the garlic. Sprinkle liberally with sea salt.

4. Put the ricotta in a medium bowl and stir vigorously with a spoon to fluff it up. Pile 1/4 cup of ricotta in mounds on each crostoni and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle a teaspoon of parsley, and coarsely grind black pepper over each crostoni.

5. Arrange the crostoni on a serving platter or board and serve with peperonata. Alternatively, you can spoon the peperonata onto each crostoni and serve.

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Filed under FRESH FETE

Green Herb Shrimp with Eggplant Couscous

I have a long-time relationship with shrimp, and usually choose it over chicken. If you can find fresh local jumbo prawns from your local farmers market or Whole Foods, make sure you add it to your  shopping list.

This dish is great for entertaining, but also easy enough for a midweek dinner. I adapted this dish from The Sprouted Kitchen cookbook, and chose it especially for the green herb citrus sauce. I like to make things that are versatile enough to recreate again and again. This sauce is no exception, you truly could serve it with anything.

Green Herb Shrimp with Eggplant Couscous

FOR THE HERB SAUCE:

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

4 green onions, white and light green parts, trimmed

2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh mint leaves

1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil

1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley

2 cloves garlic

2 anchovies (optional)

Juice of 2 limes

FOR THE SHRIMP AND EGGPLANT COUSCOUS:

1 1/2 pounds jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

4 cups diced globe eggplant (about 2 medium)

1 1/2 cups whole wheat couscous

1/4 cups coarsely chopped fresh basil

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/3 cup diced feta cheese

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

1. In a food processor or blender, combine all of the sauce ingredients and blend until fairly smooth with a few herb flecks. Put half of the sauce in a blow along with the shrimp and set aside to marinate for 1 hour, reserving the other half of the sauce.

2. Heat 1/2 tablespoon of the oil in a cast-iron pan or large skillet over medium heat. Add the eggplant and saute until the edges are browned, 8 to 10 minutes.

3. Cook the couscous according to the package insturctions. Transfer the couscous to a large mixing bowl and add the eggplant, the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil, the basil, red pepper flakes, feta, and vinegar. Toss to coat. Add salt and pepper to taste.

4. Heat a grill or grill pan over high heat. Cook the shrimp until they just turn pink, about 2 minutes maximum on each side; be careful to avoid overcooking them. Toss the cooked shrimp in the remaining herb sauce and serve with the eggplant couscous.

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Filed under EVERYDAY EATS

Seasonal Gems: Watermelon & Plums

I always like to stress the importance of seasonal produce. There are so many great arguments for buying local, organic food as opposed to the alternative; but the most obvious is reflected in taste. Seasonal just tastes better.

I recently got together with friends for a potluck dinner; we each brought something to share. Watermelon has been in season all summer, so I already knew the main star of my dish. I settled on a salad with prawns, arugula, watermelon, cucumber, feta and mint.

My favorite part about the dish, besides the just-picked freshness, was the variety of textures. It also went along famously with my friend’s plum prosciutto bruschetta, also an in-season winner. The combination of the two make a really easy, simple, summer meal. Enjoy!

 

Watermelon Salad

*serves 4 as a side

1 small seedless watermelon, sliced into chunks

10 cooked prawns

1/2 package arugula

1 english cucumber, peeled and sliced into chunks

10 mint leaves, chopped

1 cup crumbled feta cheese (or more if you love it)

extra virgin olive oil

sea salt + pepper to taste

1. Combine watermelon, cucumber, prawns, and mint. Add olive oil (drizzle to your liking) and toss. Add arugula, and lightly toss. Sprinkle feta on top, and add salt and pepper to taste.

Plum Prosciutto Bruschetta

8 slices of fresh, rustic bread; toasted

Humboldt Fog goat cheese

1 package prosciutto

4 organic plums; sliced and pits removed

arugula to garnish

1. Layer the following ingredients to create easy, instant bruschetta: goat cheese, prosciutto, arugula and plums. Serve.

 

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Anytime Three-Cheese Bruschetta with Prosciutto, Roasted Garlic Onion Jam & Basil

This bruschetta recipe is simple, customizable and great for entertaining or anytime you feel like a fancy snack. I like to create a cheese platter with three types of cheeses and tasty accoutrements like prosciutto, onion jam and basil – this way, guests can build their own bruschetta to their liking.

Anytime Three-Cheese Bruschetta with Prosciutto, Onion Jam & Basil

You will need:

1 sweet baguette

Meyer lemon flavored olive oil (or any olive oil of your preference)

1 package good prosciutto, cut into small pieces

Fresh Mozzarella cheese

Goat gouda cheese

Triple-cream brie cheese

1 jar Roasted Garlic Onion Jam

1. Preheat oven to 400°. Slice baguette into thin, diagonally cut slices and arrange on baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and bake for 15 minutes, or until brown and crunchy. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

2. Slice three types of cheeses (the ones suggested above taste best with basil) into small, equal sized pieces and arrange on cutting board to serve.

3. Create basil chiffonade, which is a technique used to cut basil into thin, ribbon-like strips. Take about 5-10 basil leaves and pile on top of each other. Then, fold leaves in half, and press down on cutting board. Chop folded basil so that little ribbon strips are formed. Add to the cutting board with cheese.

4. Use about 3 tbsp of onion jam and serve with basil and cheese. Arrange prosciutto on cutting board and serve with the toasted baguette.

5. Arrange in the following order: baguette, onion jam, cheese, prosciutto – and top with basil. Enjoy!

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Filed under EVERYDAY EATS