Friday, May 13, 2011

Roasted Red Pepper Crostini

Sweet bell peppers are just fine on their own; roast them, and you bring them to an entirely new dimension. Their thick skin takes perfectly well to a bubbling, blistering beating from a direct flame, which once peeled away, yields juicy soft flesh with a pronounced sweetness and light char flavor.

There are so many great ways to enjoy roasted peppers. Here is one of my favorites:

Roasted Peppers with Pine Nuts and Raisins Crostini

This recipe is one that is frequently made at the cooking school where I work. After tasting it for the first time, I loved it so much that I made sure to snag it for my own collection; and now, I’m sharing it with you.

Roasted peppers with plump golden raisins and toasty pine nuts all mingled together in olive oil with garlic and fresh parsley—that is love at first bite if I've ever heard it. On top of a slice of crusty Italian bread? Whoa! Forget about it.

This recipe calls for roasting your own peppers. It uses the broiler method, but there are several other ways to achieve the same result.

The many ways to roast a pepper:

Over an open flame: just like roasting a marshmallow; hold the pepper directly over a burner, turning until the skin is completely blackened on all sides.
Grilling: sticking with the direct flame, but allowing you to do more than just one at a time. Grilling also incorporates a little bit of a smoky flavor.
Broiling: same idea as the previous two, but upside down. Lay the peppers out on a tray lined with foil and stick them under the broiler; keep a watchful eye and turn to singe all sides.
Oven roast: on a foil-lined sheet tray, rub peppers with olive oil and cook at 450 degrees for 30-40 minutes; turn to singe all sides.

No matter how you roast your peppers, they are always:

• Cooked until the skin is charred BLACK on all sides.
• Steamed at the end, typically in a bowl covered with plastic wrap. This allows the inside to cook further and also helps to get the skins off easier. When peeling, some spots may be hard to remove; whatever you do, don’t rinse the peppers under water or else you’ll be rinsing all the tasty juices away too.
• Delicious

Now, had I roasted my own peppers this particular time…Wait, what? What do you mean I didn’t roast my own peppers? After all that, I went and used jarred?

Yep. I’m not even going to act like I didn’t. I’ll even be so bold as to recommend that you do so as well (gasp!) in certain situations. This is great to put out for company; if you are busy with lots of others things, want to make a ton, or are scrambling for something to make with last minute notice, the jar can be your friend.

BUT, I also recommend that you at least try this recipe with freshly roasted peppers. Like all things made from scratch, there’s just something about it!

Anyway, as I was saying…Had I roasted my own peppers this particular time, I might have made up a nice little picture demo for you, but I think that the recipe and previous descriptions do it justice.

This crostini recipe has become quite a hit around here—I even get requests!

A few weeks ago, we had family over so I made a bunch of crostini and pita chips and served the roasted pepper mix along with a schmorgasboard (great word) of other toppers like caponata, hummus, and marinated feta. It was a lot of fun; I love all that picky stuff.

Measurements aren’t really necessary for this preparation, but here they are as a general guideline:

Roasted Peppers with Pine Nuts and Raisins Crostini
Recipe adapted from the A La Carte Culinary Services adaptation of Frank Pellegrino, Rao’s Cookbook, Random House, 1998.
Yield: 6 servings

- 6 red bell peppers (or for a quicker preparation use 2, 12 oz jars of roasted red peppers)
- ½ cup olive oil
- 3 tablespoons golden raisins
- 2 tablespoons of pine nuts, toasted*
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- Salt and pepper to taste
For the crostini:
- 1 loaf Italian bread sliced ½” thick
- 4 large garlic cloves, peeled
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
• To roast peppers: heat broiler. Line a sheet tray with foil. Place the peppers, skin side up, on the pan and set 5-6 inches under the broiler. Broil, turning until the skin starts to blister and blacken all over, watching closely. Remove peppers from heat, place into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap; let stand for about 10 minutes. Remove the seeds from inside the peppers, and remove skin. Cut peppers, lengthwise, into ¼” strips.
• Combine peppers with oil, raisins, nuts, parsley and garlic. Season to taste with salt and pepper; stir. Allow to marinate for at least 1 hour before serving.
• For the crostini: on the grill or in a 350 degree oven, toast the bread until golden. Rub bread slices on one side with garlic and drizzle with olive oil.
• To serve, spoon the roasted pepper mixture on each toast.

*To toast pine nuts, toss them in a hot skillet until fragrant. Watch carefully; they burn easily and do not need to brown. Immediately remove from pan to cool.


Karen said...

Love that you're making no apologies for using jarred! They really are good and as you say, such a time saver.
I can see why these are such a hit...there isn't a flavor in here not to like.

Claudia said...

I freeze a ton of roasted peppers in August-October and enjoy them all year. And now you posted this beauty - just as I ran out! (I may have to get some jarred)

Victoria said...

There's nothing shameful about OCCASIONALLY using jarred goods. Just don't get all Sandra Lee on me ;-) The addition of golden raisins to the mix definitely reminded me of caponata. What a great topper for crostini!

Sabrina said...

this looks fabulous! i agree! jarred peppers are good and they save you so much time!

Rosemary said...

What a nice combination of flavors! And you're absolutely right about roasted red peppers, there's a distinct difference about doing them yourself. But jarred ones are great to have around, especially with a recipe like this up your sleeve.

Megan said...

Even if you didn't slave over an open fire.... this recipe is a knock out! Love it and I am looking forward to using it for an appetizer at my next dinner party! Hope you are well! - Megan

Cake Duchess said...

I love roasted peppers and yours look delicious!I always have a jar or two of roasted peppers and also olives. They are wonderful on pizza too!:)


Red peppers with pine nuts is definitely a hit! I buy the jarred peppers in winter bc they are actually less expensive.

The Mom Chef said...

The admission to using jarred made me smile. I agree that they have their time and place, like when you don't want to try and remove the char from your hands before you can move on to the next thing. Bravo on an excellent recipe.

baking.serendipity said...

Roasted red peppers are one of my favorites and they look amazing on your crostini! Glad to have found your blog :)