Someone asked me the other day what I like to cook the most. Honestly it took me a while to think, but the answer truly always is ‘food that makes me happy’. I know it sounds like a cliché but that means that what I like to cook depends on that moment, really. There maybe days when you are so exhausted you literally just want to order in, or those when you want to go all out and be elaborate about your meal. And then there are those days, when you just want to cook because you feel like eating something that comforts you, something which, when you eat, you feel like you are in a warm hug and THAT is the kind of food that I love cooking.
When I was younger, I would really dream of cooking some seriously pretentious food. I’ve grown up watching and over-watching, reading and over-reading Heston Blumenthal, Yotam Ottolenghi, Anthony Bourdain, Michel Roux and Michel Roux Jr. and honestly these are GODs. And while the inspiration came from there, there have been times when cooking a simple Tomato and Bell Pepper Bruschetta is what has made me feel sublime. Now, this is not your traditional bruschetta, but concept is still king right?
Pronounced “brusketta”, this classic Italian appetizer is a perfect way to capture the flavors of garden ripened tomatoes, fresh basil, garlic, and olive oil. Unlike a regular bruschetta, I use tomato and add a surprise new ingredient – red and yellow or orange bell pepper, and cook it, ever so slightly, which gives a great warm flavour, while also retaining the crunch that bell peppers lend. Herbs and shaved parmesan add to the magic of this rustic, simple dish. The bread you use makes quite the difference and I’ll tell you more as you read on.
You can use a nice crusty bread with a fairly even crumb, if you’re using a wet topping, which we are in this case. Otherwise, any bread with a good crust that’s sturdy enough to hold the toppings works great. A baguette or Italian loaf works fine, sourdough adds a distinctive tang, and there’s always the old standbys, the baguette or ciabatta.
Tomato and Bell Pepper Bruschetta
Serves 2 | Prep time : 10 min | Cook time : 10 min
- 1 large tomato, diced roughly
- 2 medium bell peppers, red and yellow, diced roughly
- 6-7 basil leaves, torn
- 10-12 slices of baguette or Italian loaf, cut into half inch thickness at a diagonal
- 3-4 large garlic cloves, pressed or finely chopped
- 1/2 cup good quality olive oil
- 1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar
- 3 tbsp dry white wine (optional)
- 1/3 cup of shaved parmesan (if you do not have parmesan, you can use any other hard cheese)
- Salt and black pepper to taste
In a flat pan, add 2 tbsps olive oil, chopped garlic and the bell peppers. Stir around for about 2 minutes on low flame. Then add the diced tomatoes, and mix it all together for annother minute or so, before you add the white wine (optional).
Once the wine has evaporated, add 1/2 tsp of balsamic vinegar and mix well. Be cautious about the quantity of the balsamic because it is really salty. Add salt and pepper to taste and turn the heat off.
Once cooled, add the torn basil leaves and set aside.
In another flat pan, add 2 tbsps of olive oil and press down the half inch thick bread slices. Give them 2 minutes on each side to be nice and golden brown and develop an even crispier crunch.
Spoon over your topping, shave some parmesan cheese on top and if you have some really good quality olive oil drizzle over for a nice shine 🙂