Fresh Bruchetta is delicious in the summer, but when the snow comes along and those red, ripe tomatoes disappear, you’ll find that it’s not hard to spice things up with a little variation and still enjoy a winter version that is sure to please even the most discerning taste buds. The secret of course is to use a robust, first-pressed olive oil and roast your own fresh peppers, but if you don’t have that much time, pay a visit to one of our local gems, Russos Italian Market in Wyomissing, their olive bar features not only roasted peppers, but many other staples such as olives, pesto, bread and fresh cheeses that can help you put out a nice tapas spread quickly and easily. On the other side of town, you’ll find the same fresh, mediterranean ingredients at Monte Laurel, a local family-run business that has been a staple in our community for decades, and known for their fresh, homemade food without the use of artificial ingredients or preservatives.
Begin by roasting the peppers. Wash and de-seed, then roast on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper at 400 degrees for about 30-40 minutes. I use just a sprinkle of salt & pepper on the peppers and a fine mist of olive oil. If you haven’t used an olive oil mister yet, it’s a little kitchen tool that is definitely worth the small investment. You can pick up a mister at Target for about $10. This little device works by allowing you to add any oil to the container and then pump the top to create the same effect as a spray bottle. It allows you to regulate the amount of oil you’re using far better than the traditional drizzle-type spout. This option is also significantly better for your health than using a store-bought cooking spray, because it allows you to use a good, imported olive oil from one of the aforementioned specialty markets. When the peppers are roasted to your liking, allow them to cool and then julienne. In a bowl, incorporate another spritz of a good, robust olive oil with some fresh, crumbled feta, salt and pepper, and a few fresh basil leaves. I prefer to slice the baguette and then toast it in the oven for about 5 minutes. Spread the mixture evenly onto the sliced bread and enjoy this easy, tasty appetizer for any winter gathering.
2 sweet red bell peppers
2-3 oz fresh crumbled feta
1 tbsp. robust, first-pressed olive oil
5-6 leaves of fresh basil
salt & pepper