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Jazz up your table with an assortment of summer peppers

081518tastefood
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Hot and Sweet Pepper Medley Crostini.

LyndaBalslev
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BY LYNDA BALSLEV
TasteFood

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Late summer reaps bushels of peppers in a kaleidoscope of colors and a crooked assortment of wiggly shapes. I shop with my eyes, because the first thing I do when I get home is pile my peppers into a bowl, where they do double duty as a decorative centerpiece on the kitchen table before they are transformed into a meal.

Gnarly Jimmy Nardellos, pristine cherries, waxen poblanos and pert jalapenos vie for my attention, and I slowly pick away at my psychedelic pile of peppers as I cook throughout the week, adding them to salads, stews, pasta and pizzas.

This simple recipe showcases a colorful assortment of peppers on crostini and makes a great starter to a meal or an appetizer for a grill party. I like to use a mix of sweet and hot peppers for more a complex flavor and a nudge of heat.

When you are using hot peppers, such as poblanos, serranos and jalapenos, remember that they can vary in heat, so take a small bite to test their strength. The heat is concentrated in the ribs and seeds of the pepper, so remove as much as desired with kitchen gloves or the tip of a paring knife to protect your fingers from the oils. In this recipe I used poblanos, Hungarian pimentos and gypsy peppers.

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Appetizer

Hot and Sweet Pepper Medley Crostini

Active time: 20 minutes

Total time: 20 minutes

Yield: Makes 8 crostini

Crostini:

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 small garlic clove, minced

Pinch of salt

8 slices baguette, cut on the diagonal, about 1/2-inch thick

Topping:

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for garnish

¾ pound mixed sweet and hot peppers, stemmed and seeded, thinly sliced

1 garlic clove, minced

1 teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus extra for garnish

8 ounces buffalo mozzarella, halved and thinly sliced

¼ cup basil leaves, torn into small pieces

Make the crostini: Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Whisk the oil, garlic and salt in a small bowl. Arrange the bread on a baking sheet and lightly brush each side with the oil. Transfer to the oven and bake until the bread is lightly toasted, 12 to 15 minutes, turning once. Remove the bread from the oven.

Prepare the topping: Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium. Add the peppers and saute until crisp tender, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, salt and black pepper and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Remove from the heat.

Preheat the oven broiler.

Arrange the mozzarella slices over each crostino. Top each crostino with some of the peppers. Transfer to the top rack in the oven and broil until the cheese begins to melt, about 1 minute. Remove and garnish with fresh basil and a drizzle of oil. Serve immediately.

Lynda Balslev is the co-author of “Almonds: Recipes, History, Culture” (Gibbs Smith, 2014). Contact her at tastefood@tastefoodblog.com.

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