What if I told you that appetizer nirvana was only seven ingredients and about half an hour away? Well, you can definitely get excited, because with my Red Pepper Crostini Topping, it is. Like my Easy and Delicious Nacho Dip, Red Pepper Crostini Topping is perfect for entertaining and it’s incredibly easy to make.
Calling this recipe Red Pepper Crostini Topping is a bit of an understatement. You can use the tangle of gently cooked, flavourful peppers to make crostini, but the recipe has all sorts of other delicious uses as well. (More on that a bit later.) Also, you can make the recipe with any colour peppers you have on hand – or a mixture of two or three colours. Except you can’t use green peppers – unless you love green peppers and really, really want to use them. In which case, go ahead, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Red Pepper Crostini Topping does require a little light chopping and gentle stirring, However, like Nigella Lawson, I find a bit of chopping and stirring intensely therapeutic, especially when there’s chaos going on around me (as there often is). Sometimes I chop the peppers up the day before and keep them covered in the fridge. You can also make the whole recipe a day ahead of time if you prefer as it will sit quite happily in the fridge for 24 hours.
Like many simple recipes, the quality of the ingredients you use is paramount here. Ripe, firm peppers work best and you need a good balsamic vinegar. Although it’s more expensive, an authentic artisanal balsamic vinegar that has been aged for at least 12 years has a much better flavour. A bottle lasts me ages so, like a good wine, I consider it worth the investment. Not that good wine lasts ages in our house – that tends to disappear much more quickly!
So, I mentioned crostini – and this Red Pepper Crostini Topping does make amazing crostini. To make the base part of the crostini, all you have to do is brush a banking sheet with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and top with quarter inch slices of your favourite bread. I’ve used spelt and honey loaf here but French bread or ciabatta are more traditional and work really well too. Brush the tops of the slices with more olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place in an oven that has been preheated to 350°F (170°C) and don’t take your eyes off it for a second. Cook the bread slices until golden brown, turning once, for about 5 minutes each side. You can then simply top the cooked slices of bread with the Red Pepper Crostini Topping, garnish with parsley and serve.
Or – and this is where the versatility of this recipe comes in – serve Red Pepper Crostini Topping in a bowl, alongside lots of other little dips and salads, as part of a meze starter. It’s best served warm or at room temperature. If you’ve made it 24 hours ahead, you can simply heat it gently to rewarm. I also like Red Pepper Crostini Topping on leftover nan bread, topped with cheese and grilled to make a Nan Bread Pizza or even on toast, similarly topped with cheese and grilled to make an open faced sandwich that tastes simply divine. It’s the sort of thing I keep in my fridge a lot of the time as it really does come in handy, although it is at its best within 24 to 48 hours of making.
Gluten-free and vegan, Red Pepper Crostini Topping is a great appetizer recipe for year round entertaining.
- 3 tablespoons mild olive oil
- 1 red onion, peeled, cut in half and finely sliced
- 4 red peppers, or assorted colours of your choice, de-seeded and finely sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and grated or finely chopped or 2 teaspoons Very Lazy Chopped Garlic
- 1 tablespoon capers, drained and chopped (optional, I usually leave them out)
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon flat leaf parsley, finely chopped (you can use dried parsley if fresh is unavailable)
- salt and pepper to taste
- Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat.
- Sauté the onion for two to three minutes until it begins to soften.
- Add the sliced peppers and cook for ten minutes, stirring occasionally, until just softened.
- Add the garlic, capers (if using) and vinegar.
- Simmer gently for a few minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Taste carefully (it will be very hot!) and add salt and pepper to taste.
- Transfer the mixture to a serving dish and allow to cool for at least 5 minutes before serving. You can also cool completely to room temperature. Either way, garnish with the chopped parsley just before serving.
If you enjoyed this recipe you may also like Braised Pea Broad Bean and Artichoke Dip.