Peperonata On Crostini

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Summer is winding down which means we are in full speed ahead mode to get the garden produce preserved for winter.  Tomatoes, broccoli, squash, green beans, corn, cukes and peppers will all be turned in to a number of things from sauce to pickles.  We will steam, dehydrate, oven-roast, shred, and dice it up.  Canning and freezing will then take place to give us opportunity to appreciate the growing season for a little longer.

That's the beauty of preserving freshly harvested or produce purchased at the farmer's market.  It captures the beautiful rhythm of summer that you can enjoy once it is long gone.

Although we opted not to grow a very large garden this year, we still have a wonderful bounty of some of the basics, and peppers are one.  I seem to add them to just about anything, but there are times when you want the simple bell pepper to shine on it's own.  And in this recipe, it does.

Whether you have fresh bell peppers ready to pick in the garden or an excess of them in the fridge, this is a simple and delicious way to use them up.  This is also a great use of frozen peppers so you get that fresh garden flavor in the middle of winter.  You can bake the bread yourself or buy a beautiful loaf from the market or store.  Either way, it will be perfect.

The capers are optional.  I, personally, love capers.  My husband, however, despises them.  So, I've made this both ways and it's delicious regardless.  If you have family members who aren't fans of sour, you may also question the red wine vinegar.  Please leave it in.  It doesn't make it sour at all but adds such a lovely, light depth that plays so well against the sweet peppers.

For the cheese.  I've made it with fresh mozzarella as well as pepperjack for my husband.  Since I am non-dairy, I use non-dairy mozzarella or pepperjack - my very favorite non-dairy cheeses are those made by Follow Your Heart.  They have excellent flavor and meltability.  (they are not an affiliate, I just love their product!)

The recipe is very easily doubled (or tripled).  Also, you can make this ahead - up to 3 days in advance, and store it in the refrigerator.

Peperonata On Crostini
serves 2

3 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 - 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes, depending on how spicy you would like it
2 large sweet red peppers, cored and thinly sliced, lengthwise
1 cup sliced sweet onion
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme or 1 teaspoon fresh
1 Tablespoon capers, drained, optional
1 1/2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 Tablespoon fresh oregano leaves, cleaned and chopped
sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
cheese (mozzarella, pepperjack, non-dairy cheese, etc.), sliced thinly
baguette, sliced thinly

To make the peperonata:
In a large skillet over medium heat, heat 2 Tablespoons of the olive oil.  Add garlic and red pepper flakes, stirring until aromatic, about 1 minute.  Add peppers, onion and thyme and sauté until softened, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Add capers and the remaining oil, stirring until well combined, about 1 minute.  Scrape pepper mixture to a bowl and turn off heat.  Stir red wine vinegar into now empty pan.  Allow to sit and reduce by half (off of heat).  Drizzle vinegar over the peppers and stir in the oregano.  If making ahead, stop here and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

To make the crostini:
Put sliced baguette on baking sheet and place under broiler, watching carefully, until it just starts to brown.  Remove from the oven.  Put one slice of cheese on top of each slice of bread.  Top with 1 Tablespoon of pepper mixture.  Put baking sheet back under broiler until cheese is melted and peppers are warmed.


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