Even the most passionate cooks have a task or two that they find less than enjoyable. Some aren't thrilled with the prospect of peeling more than a clove or two of garlic and others find nothing more tedious than shelling a pound of peas. For Melissa Clark, author of Cook This Now, that task is roasting peppers. That long, messy process of charring and steaming them and systematically peeling off every last bit of papery skin somehow manages to get not only all over every surface of the sink and counter but also lodged underneath fingernails.
Instead of giving up sweet roasted peppers or resigning herself to the jarred variety, Clark has come up with an oven roasted recipe that eliminates not only the mess but a good portion of the work all while adding even more peppery flavor and a lovely, jammy texture. By thinly slicing and slow-roasting red peppers in the oven with salt, olive oil, and paprika, the flavors concentrate and skins soften to the point where they're barely noticeable. And the sweet paprika brings out the pepperiness of the red bells.
These roasted peppers have all sorts of uses on their own (think mixed into salads or blended with tomatoes for a pasta sauce) but they make a particularly nice pre-meal bite when piled onto crisp rounds of garlic-rubbed bread for these Roasted Pepper and Celery Leaf Crostini. They're finished with chopped celery leaves (a vastly underused green if there ever was one) and briny capers or anchovies—perfect little cocktail hour snacks that work equally well for evenings that are casual or a bit more elegant.
As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of Cook This Now to give away this week.
- 2 medium red bell peppers, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch strips
- 4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus additional for drizzling the bread
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked sweet paprika
- 1/4 cup chopped celery leaves
- 6 slices crusty bread, cut about 1/4 inch thick
- 1 garlic clove, halved
- Anchovy fillets or drained capers, for serving (optional)
Preheat the oven to 375°F. In a bowl, toss the peppers with the olive oil, salt, and paprika. Spread on a large baking sheet and roast, stirring occasionally, until the peppers are very tender and jammy, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool completely; toss the peppers with the celery leaves.
Preheat the broiler. Spread the bread slices out in an even layer on a baking pan and toast them until golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Immediately rub each slice with garlic and drizzle with oil.
To serve, mound the peppers on top of the bread slices. Garnish each crostini with either a single anchovy fillet or capers, if desired (about 1/2 teaspoon per crostini).