What are we going to do when the tomatoes go away? It was a blandly rhetorical question, but staring down at my plate of dry-farmed Early Girls, a pang of mild panic flickered through me. I don’t know. I DON’T KNOW! (Even in blustery San Francisco, it’s hard to say goodbye to summer.) But as if on cue, I happened upon this recipe a few days later, a perky crostini topping with plump sun-dried tomatoes and fresh bell peppers. Swap out jarred roasted peppers in the dead of winter, easy to find in many markets, and you can pull the entire sunny-bright recipe from your pantry, save for the bread.
Careful readers of this blog may have noted that I’m very fond of little things on toasts: canapes, crostini, bruschetta, open-faced sandwiches. They’re versatile and generally easy to prep ahead, and this soulful, well-balanced spread is no exception. Serve on crostini as an appetizer or alongside a big salad as a light main event. The leftovers were just right as an easy topping on seared halibut, and tomorrow I may mix a few dollops into scrambled eggs with crumbled goat cheese. Summer’s never far away.
Red Pepper & Sun-Dried Tomato Relish
adapted from Anna Del Conte’s Italian Kitchen, 2012; serves about 6
- 2 large red bell peppers
- 1/2 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
- 2 fat garlic cloves, finely chopped
- extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
- pinch chili flakes
- one 8 oz. jar of sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil (I used the Mezzetta brand)
- one tablespoon capers, rinsed
- two anchovy fillets, minced
- toasted bread slices, for serving
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Roast the whole bell peppers on a rimmed baking sheet for 30 minutes.
In a medium sauté pan, drizzle two tablespoons of olive oil and warm over medium-high heat. Sweat the onions, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add the garlic, chili flakes, and balsamic vinegar; stir and cook down until soft.
Meanwhile, drain the tomatoes of their preserving oil and slice into thin strips; add to the onion-garlic soffritto (base mixture). Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes.
While the tomatoes are cooking, peel the bell peppers (the skins will look papery and blackened, and easy to peel). Discard the stem and seeds and dice into small pieces. Add to the tomato mixture. Sprinkle the minced anchovy on top and stir, squashing the anchovy into the relish until it melts away. Add the capers. Taste and adjust the seasonings, adding another splash of balsamic or a pinch of salt if needed. Serve warm, cold or room temperature with toasted bread.