Crostini and bruschetta are always an easy entertaining option, but sometimes they can get a bit old and tired. Believe me, I love a classic tomato basil bruschetta topping as much as most people, but a new twist is always welcome. I’ve been wanting to try this version for quite a long time and finally got around to it for our holiday party this weekend. Baguette slices are toasted and rubbed with garlic, spread with a lightly seasoned goat cheese and then topped with vibrant marinated roasted bell peppers. It’s a very simple concept and while I expected to like them, I didn’t expect to fall head over heels for them. Believe it or not, these were my favorite savory item from our party menu (even more than the mac and cheese!) The marinated peppers and goat cheese mixture can be made well in advance so that the only work required is a bit of last minute assembly. I adore the bright, eye-popping colors of the red, orange, and yellow pepper combination, but you could use all red peppers and top with some thinly sliced basil for a festive holiday appetizer.
For the peppers:
3-4 bell peppers (red, orange or yellow)
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
½ tsp. red pepper flakes
For the goat cheese spread:
8 oz. goat cheese
1 clove garlic, minced
3 tbsp. heavy cream or half-and-half
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 clove garlic, cut in half
Minced fresh parsley or basil, for garnish
Preheat the broiler. Place the bell peppers on a baking sheet. Broil, turning occasionally, until all sides are partially browned and bubbling. Remove from the oven, transfer to a bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. Let rest for 15-20 minutes.
Remove the peppers from the bowl and peel away the skins. Remove the stems and seeds from the peppers, and slice thinly. In a bowl or other container, combine the sliced peppers, olive oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Refrigerate and let marinate for at least 3 hours.
To make the goat cheese mixture, combine the goat cheese, garlic, and cream, and stir with a spoon until smooth and well blended. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
When you are ready to assemble the crostini, preheat the oven to 400˚ F. Lightly brush baguette slices with olive oil. Place on a baking sheet and bake until light golden and crisp, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from the oven and rub the cut side of the garlic over the top of each baguette slice. Spread a thin layer of the goat cheese mixture over each baguette slice and top with a spoonful of the pepper mixture. Sprinkle with minced fresh herbs, if desired. Serve immediately.