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.
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.