Roasted Red Pepper & Goat Cheese Crostini
In an appetizer world of chips, dips and shrimp cocktails - go for the crostini.
Crostinis (also known as "little toasts") are typically smaller slices of bread than what one would use for bruschetta. Crostinis are a lot fun because there is no rhyme or reason to them. The number one rule is to get them nicely toasted and then pile them with your favorite toppings - veggies, savory spreads, cheeses, meats and seafood all work.
This specific recipe was something that I created as an appetizer this past Thanksgiving. The past few years I have made a simple, Italian-style bruschetta, but was really feeling my creative juices for this go around. I wanted to provide a vegetarian option that everyone could pick up and enjoy (without having to put down their wine glasses). For this crostini, I used Chavrie, a mild-tasting goat cheese that has a similar flavor profile to a tangy cream cheese. I then added some arugula, as it it provides a distinctive, peppery bite, and finally topped the toast with some roasted red peppers that I quickly marinated in some good balsamic vinegar.
The end result is a well-balanced, light appetizer that sounds intricate and impressive to your guests, but is really quite simple and inexpensive to make. Not to mention that the colors and presentation of this dish are great for any holiday party this time of year!
And just as I choose where to eat based on how many people are dining inside a restaurant, I too judge the success of a dish based on how much remains on the plate. Needless to say the plate sat empty and the surrounding palates filled with content.
The Break Down:
(about 12 pieces of sliced Italian bread)
- Baguette, 1 sliced
- Red Bell Peppers, 3 large
- Arugula, 1.5 cup
- Balsamic Vinegar, 2 tbsp.
- Goat Cheese, 1/2 lb.
- Garlic, 2 cloves (1 minced)
- EVOO, 2 tbsp.
1. Allow goat cheese to sit at room temperature
2. First, we roast and marinate the peppers...
As directed in the recipe for Pesto Stuffed Turkey Peppers, the goal is to get a nice char on the skin of the peppers. It is not necessary that the char be even, but it should cover all sides. Once char has been attained, immediately transport the peppers to either brown paper bag or bowl/pot and cover immediately. The purpose of this is to capture the steam and also let the peppers cool. By doing this, the charred skin can easily be removed.
With Gas-Burning Stove (easiest with tongs):
1A. Place peppers over low-to-medium burning flame
1B. Rotate peppers with tongs, being cautious not to burn the peppers
1C. Once charred on all side (does not need to be perfectly even), remove peppers
1D. Place the warm peppers in paper bag or bowl and close/cover tightly
With Electric Stove:
1E. Preheat oven to 500 degrees and spread whole peppers over baking sheet
1F. Once oven reaches desired heat, place peppers in oven
1G. Remove tray and carefully rotate peppers to ensure char across outer skin
1H. Once charred on all side (does not need to be perfectly even), remove peppers
1I. Place the warm peppers in paper bag or bowl and close/cover tightly
3. Carefully remove charred skin from the peppers (should slip off easily once cool)
4. Slice off top of the pepper, slice pepper into strips and remove seeds
5. In a bowl, mix 2 tbsp. of balsamic vinegar, 1 tbsp. of EVOO, minced garlic and S&P
6. Refrigerate peppers for 20-30 minutes and heat oven to broil
7. Add tinfoil over a baking sheet and spread bread across the sheet
8. Drizzle additional tablespoon of EVOO over the bread
9. With whole garlic clove, lightly coat each piece of bread and pinch of salt and pepper
10. Put sheet pan on top rack, closest to broiler
11. Remove pan after about 2 minutes or until toast has achieved a nice, golden brown
12. Spread goat cheese across warm toast and a few pieces of fresh arugula
13. Mix roasted red peppers in bowl once more, then add to each piece of toast
14. Serve immediately and salute!
Tips & Tricks:
- The peppers are even better the longer they marinate. You can prepare up to 24 hours before!
- Basil is a great addition when marinating the peppers and also on top the toast before serving
- Best to serve this dish right away, while the crostini is still warm