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Thursday, November 29, 2007

A Quick Appetizer: Roasted Pepper, Basil and Goat Cheese Bruschetta

Here's a quick and tasty appetizer that is festive looking, perfect for the holidays and bringing over to some one's house. I've made this a few times, and the first time I tasted the combination was at my friend Ritu's house. Another friend, Sally had brought this roasted pepper and basil mixture, the cheese, and some bread -- all originating from Sally's mother. So, this whole idea is credited to her.

Sally gave me an idea of what was in the pepper mixture and I honestly don't remember what she said. The first time I made it, I roasted the three colors of bell peppers myself, peeled them, and this was a very long and tiring task. I brought this first attempt bruschetta to my in-laws house and it was well-received, and I personally like the combination myself.

Soon thereafter, I saw roasted red peppers in a jar at specialty shops and thought "Yes!" I can skip the whole roasting/peeling step. I may have made the appetizer once more, but most recently I made it a few weeks ago to bring over to my friend Natalie's house. I wasn't sure if they liked goat cheese and had pretty much forgotten exactly what Sally had said, but what I made looked gorgeous and turned out pretty nicely. So, here is what I made most recently:

Roasted Red Pepper, Basil, and Goat Cheese Bruschetta

1 Package of sliced french baguettes or 1 whole french baguette, sliced at an angle once you get home
1 Package (4oz I think) of your favorite Goat Cheese or Chevre
1 Jar roasted red peppers (other colors work wonderful, or feel free to roast/peel your own)
6 or 7 Fresh Basil leaves
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
Splash of Balsamic (optional)
Sprinkle of italian or herb seasoning (optional)

1. Pre-heat the Oven to 450
2. Place the sliced breads to cover a cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and italian seasoning to taste.
3. Place the cookie sheet in the oven and keep an eye on the breads. Bake for 5-10 min, until breads are crisping up but still soft on the inside (don't over bake). Should be only lightly brown along edges. Let cool.
4. Dice roasted peppers and place in bowl. Chop basil into small pieces and add to peppers. Add a splash of olive oil and balsamic if you'd like to help bind.
5. Open your cheese and see if it's crumbly or if it is spreadable. If it is a little too crumbly to spread, place all of cheese in a bowl and microwave for 5 or 10 seconds to warm it up.
6. Spread 1-2tsp of cheese on each bread slice, and then spoon some pepper mixture on top.
7. Arrange on serving platter and garnish with extra basil leaves.

I think this would also be tasty with parmesean/asiago and other Italian cheese, and I'm sure there's many more options, like the pesto/cherry tomato topping I also used.

The other bruschettas pictured in the photos are the same breads but with Pesto (store-bought) spread on top and sliced cherry tomatoes on top for color. They were my back-up plan in case my friends didn't like goat cheese. Remember to pronounce it "Brusketta" as Mario Batali does on FoodTV.

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