Harvest Season Menu: Bruschetta with Red Pepper Purée and Toasted Walnuts

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Photo By Joe Coca
Bruschetta with red pepper purée and toasted walnuts is delicious served as an appetizer, quick lunch or light dinner.

Bruschetta with Red Pepper Purée and Toasted Walnuts
Serves 4 to 6

This easy starter also makes a wonderful lunch or light dinner, served with an arugula salad and a glass of Chianti Riserva. You can roast, peel and seed the peppers up to a week in advance and pack them in a jar with olive oil. Refrigerate until ready to serve, then drain oil and proceed as the recipe directs. Use leftover purée to dress up pasta, baked potatoes or sandwiches.

3 medium red bell peppers (about 1 pound total)
1/2 pound Italian country bread, sliced
1 large clove garlic
1/4 cup unflavored bread crumbs
1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/8 teaspoon pepper, or to taste
1 pinch dried red pepper flakes
1/4 cup walnuts
2 tablespoons olive oil, or to taste
4 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
6 small, fresh thyme sprigs, or to taste

To prepare roasted peppers:

1. Preheat broiler to high.

2. Place whole peppers on foil-lined baking sheet and set 2 to 4 inches from heat. Broil 10 to 20 minutes, turning frequently until blackened all over.

3. Place peppers in a zip-top plastic bag, seal and cool 30 minutes or until cool enough to handle. Peel, core and seed.

To prepare Bruschetta:

1. Place bread slices under broiler and toast on both sides until golden brown. Remove and set aside.

2. Turn on food processor and chop garlic, about 20 seconds. Add pepper flesh, bread crumbs, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Process until smooth.

3. Toast walnuts in 1 teaspoon olive oil in a small skillet until golden brown.

4. When ready to serve, place toast on serving platter. Spread 1 to 2 tablespoons purée on each slice and sprinkle with walnuts, Parmesan and thyme. Drizzle with olive oil. Serve at room temperature.

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