Peperonata and Tomato and Basil Bruschette
We are currently on holiday in northern Italy enjoying the Adriatic coast and the delicious food that this country has to offer. We are especially lucky to be able to enjoy seasonal vegetables and fruits from a local organic farm that has provided us with some delicious ingredients for this week’s recipes. This part of Italy is prosecco country, and we have enjoyed the region’s light, floral and crispy bubbly tipple. If you too like to indulge in the occasional sparkle of prosecco, then these bruschette are a perfect match for a refreshing beverage after a long day in the sun.
Bruschetta is generally served in the guise of tomatoes and basil on bread, but there are many other toppings that sit nicely on toasted or grilled ciabatta, such as the peperonata we are suggesting. To all the purists out there - I am completely aware that I am perhaps not following strictly traditional protocol in the preparation of these bruschette, but I have a little leeway as a straniero, foreigner. That said, I do believe that most Italians would find these quite tasty. More importantly, they have been happily accepted by Little Boy Green, senza prosecco, of course.
I am also including a recipe for a simple tomato bruschetta as we have some delicious tomatoes that have made it a must. Generally, I am not a fan of cooked peppers, but this peperonata has me abandoning such unwarranted prejudice. While we consistently try our best to use local and seasonal foods, these two recipes really do call for the best quality produce available, as the simplicity of preparation and ingredients are not forgiving if corners are cut.
We topped our peperonata with some capers, which I know for some will be a big no-no, but we very much like the salty and slightly sour notes they add. The addition of balsamic vinegar to the tomato and basil mixture is a neat touch that I learned from my mother.
- 500g fresh tomatoes, we used roma tomatoes
- 500g fresh bell peppers, we used red and yellow
- 1 large white onion
- 100ml white wine
- 50ml extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling when serving on
- ciabatta or other artisanal bread
- 1 X small clove garlic
- 1 tsp sea salt
- Cut tomatoes in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds and juice with a spoon. Slice lengthwise into thick strips.
- Quarter the bell peppers lengthwise and discard the seeds and stem. Slice each quarter along the width in thick strips.
- Cut the onion in half lengthwise and slice thinly.
- Place the tomatoes, peppers and onion into a wide pan with the olive oil, salt and wine and cook covered over a medium heat for 10 minutes stirring regularly.
- Allow to cool and season to taste.
- Cut bread into thick slices and toast or grill until sightly charred. When cool enough to handle, rub each slice with the garlic clove.
- Top with cooled peperonata and a drizzle of olive oil and serve immediately. A few capers and a little of their brine is optional.
- To keep the bruschetta from falling apart, we do not use any of the cooking liquid from the peperonata or any of the liquid that has been drained from the tomatoes. Instead, we added the liquids to a large bowl, tore up some bread and mixed them together to sit over night in the fridge. The following day I added some steamed peas and served it cold to Little Boy Green as a late morning snack (I am not ashamed to say that I helped him eat it!)
Tomato and Basil:
- 500g fresh tomatoes
- Small bunch of freshly picked basil
- Ciabatta or other artisanal bread
- 1 X small clove garlic
- 1 tsp salt
- 100ml extra virgin olive oil
- Roughy chop the tomatoes and tear up the basil and place in a sieve or colander and gently massage to slightly crush the tomatoes. This allows any excess water to drain and allows the flavours to meld in together. Allow the mixture to sit in the colander while the bread is prepared.
- Cut bread into thick slices and toast or grill until sightly charred. When cool enough to handle, rub each slice with the garlic clove. Top with the tomato and basil mixture, drizzle with olive oil and serve immediately. A light drizzle of balsamic vinegar is a lovely but optional extra.