Bruschetta with Sweet Peppers and Ricotta
Each year at the farmers’ market seems to bring bell peppers in ever more stunning colors. By mid-September, Bay Area markets are ablaze with red, yellow, green and orange peppers and multicolored combinations thereof. I can’t resist them. To show off their colors, I’ll braise them together, then spoon them over ricotta-topped bruschetta (oiled toast).
You may need to explore the breads available in your area to find the ideal one for bruschetta (pronounced brew-sketta). If the bread is too dense, the bruschetta will be hard to eat; if the bread is too holey, it won’t support the topping. Look for a rustic country-style loaf made of nothing but flour, water, yeast and salt. Once toasted, it should be sturdy enough to stand up to a slathering of ricotta and juicy peppers. Offer these Italian toasts at the start of a meal with a glass of crisp white wine.
1 large red bell pepper
1 large golden bell pepper
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 large clove garlic, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 slices country-style bread, each about 1/2 inch thick and 4 inches long
1/4 pound whole-milk ricotta cheese
6 to 8 fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces
Roast peppers over a gas flame or charcoal fire, or under a broiler, until blackened on all sides. Transfer to a plastic bag and close the bag so peppers steam as they cool. When cool enough to handle, peel the peppers, halve them and remove seeds and ribs. Cut peppers lengthwise into strips 1/2 to 3/4 inch wide.
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet over moderate heat. Add garlic and saute until lightly colored, about 2 minutes. Add peppers, season with salt and pepper and saute just until peppers are coated with garlic and are hot throughout. Remove from heat and cool in pan. For best flavor, saute peppers 1 hour ahead so they can absorb the oil and exude their own juices.
Toast the bread on both sides in a broiler, toaster oven, on a stove-top grill or—the best choice—over a charcoal fire. Remove from heat and drizzle one side of each slice with 1 teaspoon oil. Season ricotta with salt and pepper, then spread an even layer of cheese on each of the 6 toasts. Stir the basil into the peppers, then divide the peppers and their juices among the 6 toasts. Serve hot.
Courtesy of Fresh From the Farmers' Market by Janet Fletcher. Photographs by Victoria Pearson. Chronicle Books, 2008. chroniclebooks.com