This is a great bruschetta to take advantage of late summer lovelies — fragrant, juicy tomatoes and sweet, sweet peppers. I love the technique of roasting the tomatoes right inside the peppers and then smooshing the whole thing down onto a hunk of grilled bread. Messy to eat for sure, but so beautiful.
I saw Jamie Oliver make this on his series “Jamie at Home” one day while I was parked on the couch, dazed from too many sleepless nights with our newborn. In such a state it was reviving to my spirits just to see Jamie wandering around his bountiful country garden, cooking up mouthwatering, rustic dishes like this one. And if I could have jumped right through the TV and grabbed one of these bruschetta right off his plate, believe me I would have! I was so exhausted at the time that I only managed to make a few mostly illegible chicken scratch notes on a scrap of paper while I was watching the show. Lucky for me, I unearthed that scrap this summer and I had enough to go on to try to re-create the dish.
I like these bruschetta along with an antipasto plate assembled from the deli for an easy summer dinner. I know sweet peppers are not necessarily a slam dunk for kids — I have one yes and one no in my family — but it’s an easy enough recipe to put together to test the waters. I think peeling the peppers could help texture-wise for kids and it always seems to help to get them involved with the cooking process. Dressing and scooping tomatoes are good tasks for little ones and I think no kid could possibly resist a little parent sanctioned smooshing..
Summery Roasted Sweet Pepper and Tomato Bruschetta
(adapted from Jamie Oliver At Home)
- 2 sweet peppers
- 4 large slices of rustic bread, sliced 1/2″ thick
- 2 large tomatoes (or the equivalent of 2 cups chopped)
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Fresh or dried herbs such as basil, thyme or parsley (optional)
- Shaved ricotta salata for garnish(optional)
- Sea salt, pepper, pinch of red pepper flakes
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Halve the peppers and remove the stems and seeds. Place the pepper halves on a foil lined baking sheet.
- In a bowl, core and chop the tomatoes (if using cherry tomatoes, halve them). Toss the tomatoes with olive oil, sea salt, pepper, red wine vinegar. I like to add a small pinch of chile flakes (enough if give it a little zing without making it too spicy for kids.). Taste and adjust the seasonings — it should taste like a well-seasoned tomato salad. Switch it up by adding fresh or dried herbs, substituting balsamic vinegar, etc.
- Spoon the seasoned tomatoes into the sweet pepper halves. Cover with foil and bake at 400 for 15-20 minutes or until the peppers start to soften. Uncover and roast for an additional 10 minutes. While the peppers are roasting, slice your bread. The slices should be thick enough to stand up to the juicy topping.
- Turn your oven to broil and pop in your bread to toast while the peppers spend a few minutes under the broiler to get a light char. I like to flip my bread to toast both sides. Keep a close eye on everything during these 5 minutes — I have had too many burned toast disasters to count!
- When the peppers have cooled enough for you to work with them, tip excessive juice into a bowl so you won’t wont water log your bruschetta. Dress the toasted bread with a light drizzle of olive oil and then lay a roasted pepper on top (you may need to cut the peppers in half). Press down to let some of the juice mingle into the bread and to flatten out the whole thing. Sprinkle fresh herbs, sprinkle a little more salt if needed and optionally top with some shaved ricotta salata. You can also drizzle some of the juice you poured off earlier.
You might also like: Jamie Oliver’s Braised Pork and Pepper Goulash, Jamie Oliver’s Mini “Egg Cupcakes”, Summer Favorites Recipe Collection
Our little one has just started to eat solid food. He’s sampled the usual apple sauce, bananas, green beans and sweet potatoes and enjoyed them well enough. Tonight he stepped into the land of real food with this rustic ratatouille which, with a few tweaks, also happened to be our dinner. He really, really enjoyed eating this as much as the rest of us did. Maybe it’s the sweet-savory flavor combination or the sunny yellow color that won him over. All I know if that he scarfed it right up.
This ratatouille makes a delish side dish, but you can easily make it a bit more hearty as the main event for dinner, brunch or lunch with the addition of a soft egg finished under the broiler and toasty crostini on the side. We’ve been eating more “mostly vegetarian” family meals and this this a good one with summer peppers and squash just around the corner. I would say the crostini are key, especially for little eaters like my Luca who might at least dip if all else fails.
Ratatouille with Soft Eggs and Parmegiano Reggiano
adapted from “Avec Eric” by Eric Ripert
Ingredients: 3 Red, Orange or Yellow Sweet Peppers; 1 Onion,; 4 Cloves Garlic; 3 Medium Tomatoes; 1/2 Cup Tomato Sauce or Puree; 1 Large Italian Eggplant; 3 Yellow Summer Squash; Parmegiano Reggiano; Eggs; Crusty Bread; Olive Oil; Lemon Juice/Vinegar (optional)
Ahead of time:
Poach several eggs a little under where you like them because you will finish them under the broiler. Try a minute less than what you would normally do. After poaching them, immediately move them to a bowl of cold water to stop their cooking. They can be held this way in the refrigerator for up to 1 day. Here’s a handy link on poaching eggs.
- Heat several Tablespoons of olive oil in a pan. Add another drizzle of oil as you are cooking the vegetables if anything starts to stick.
- Chop 1 large onion into medium dice. Mince 4 large cloves of garlic. Add them to the pan and season with salt and pepper.
- Remove the stem, ribs and seeds from 3 sweet bell peppers (yellow, orange and red) and chop into medium dice. Lightly season them and add them to the pan.
- Chop 3 yellow summer squash into medium dice. [To me long-cooked zucchini are not the prettiest shade of green, so next time I’ll opt for yellow squash in this recipe]. Lightly season them and add to the pan.
- Remove half the peel of a large Italian eggplant because the peel can sometimes be bitter. Cut off alternating strips giving it a purple and white stripe effect, then cut it into 1/2″ thick slices and then into medium dice. Lightly season with salt and add to the pan.
- Chop 4 large tomatoes (or the equivalent of cherry tomatoes) into medium dice. Lightly season them with salt and add them to the pan.
- Add 1/2 cup of tomato sauce or tomato puree.
- Stir and lower heat to medium-low and simmer for an hour, stirring occasionally. Taste and add salt as needed, black pepper and a dash of vinegar or lemon juice if you like.
[You can make the ratatouille in advance, it will keep for several days.]
- Heat the ratatouille if made in advance. Spoon the warm ratatouille into a baking dish (or individual oven-safe bowls would be nice) and put it under the broiler until it is bubbling and piping hot.
- Dry the pre-poached eggs well and arrange them on top of the hot ratatouille, seasoning each with a little bit of salt. Drizzle the whole dish with olive oil and sprinkle with grated parmegiano reggiano. Return the dish to the broiler for 30 seconds to a minute just to heat the eggs through without cooking them too much more.
- Garnish with minced parsley and serve with slices of good, rustic bread, toasted and drizzled with olive oil.
Feeding our new bambino late one night gave me a chance to catch up on a few cooking shows. This goulash recipe from Jamie Oliver at Home (the “Peppers” episode) “had me at hello”. Slow-braised pork shoulder and peppers? Sign me up! While it takes a few hours to cook, the hands on time is pretty minimal. I wasn’t sure if Luca was going to go for the whole peppers thing so I told him it was carnitas and he ate it right up. This is a great one for a lazy sunday dinner with family and friends since you can feed a crowd with very little effort on an inexpensive cut of meat. Leftovers would make a fantastic sauce for pasta and, of course, we couldn’t resist some “goulash/carnitas” tacos for lunch the next day.
Jamie Oliver’s Spicy Pork Goulash (my cliff notes version below, get the original recipe from Jamie’s site here.)
I knew Simran and I were kindred spirits — when I told her that I was making this, she said she had been salivating over this recipe for quite some time. Since not everyone in her family eats pork, I think you could substitute chicken pieces (reducing the simmer time from 3 hours to 1) with similarly delicious results. Despite the word “spicy” being in the title, if you like the heat like Simran you’ll want to add some chili flakes.
- Boneless Pork Shoulder
- 2-3 Red Yellow or Orange Peppers
- 1 Onion
- Jarred Marinated Sweet Peppers
- Can of Tomatoes (diced or squish up whole tomatoes)
- Caraway Seeds
- Sour Cream
- Season a piece of bonelss pork shoulder with salt and pepper and sear well on all sides in a very hot pan (start with the fat side). Set the meat aside and drain off the rendered fat.
- Add 1 finely diced onion, the leaves from a sprig or oregano or marjoram, two heaping Tablespoons of paprika, and a teaspoon of caraway seeds crushed in a mortar and pestle. Let the onion soften for a few minutes.
- Add 2 or 3 thinly sliced red, orange or yellow bell peppers (no green ones!); a cup or more of jarred, marinated sweet peppers; a couple of Tablespoons of red wine vinegar; and a can of tomatoes.
- Add the meat back into the pot and add water as needed to nearly cover the meat. Cover and place in a 350 degree oven for three hours. The meat will be fork tender when it’s done.
- Remove the meat from the pot, skim off any fat that has risen to the top and taste the sauce for seasoning. Serve everything together with a dallop of sour cream flavored with lemon zest and parsley.
This one is seriously good — awesome recipe, Jamie!
It’s been an especially gray and foggy summer around here, but a trip to the Alemany Farmers’ Market reminded us that summer is out there somewhere. I was particularly excited to come across sweet chili peppers (the long wrinkly green ones) which we’ve never cooked with before. We splurged on a flat of the most gorgeous, perfect peaches– each one weighing in at a close to a pound. Nectarines, pluots, persian cucumbers, sweet crisp grapes, a rainbow of peppers and of course early girl tomatoes were everywhere. It’s going to be a great week for eating!