Jennie Eats Italy – To Start
I went to school with the lovely Jennie and can verify that she has always been deliciously Italian. She’s a feisty fox with raven hair, deep brown eyes and a KILLER sense of humour. Renound for being part of a family filled with fabulous culinary ancestry, it’s no wonder she’s now cooking up a storm herself and sharing her secrets with the rest of us through her scrumptious blog, ‘Jennie Eats Italy’. Needless to say, I’m heavily addicted. Everything looks so amazing that Jennie has agreed to share with us a mini Italian feast: this week we’ll tackle the starter, next week the main and we’ll round off with a cheeky dessert. I’m drooling just thinking about it! Without further ado …
Pepper & Pastrami Crostini with Tossed Salad (Serves 2)
I wasn’t intending on making crostini today at all. I’ve been talking about my efforts to start being a bit more well behaved with what I cook – so I decided I’d do a lovely salad. Then I walked past the food market and saw some lovely little peppers, so I bought them to roast. Then salad started to take a back seat in my mind and crostini started to float in. Before I know it, I’m throwing oil across the kitchen, frying bread, chopping up salty beef and mixing a plethora of delectable things together to make these bad boys. I am very happy with the outcome and I urge you to go and make them immediately. Also, feel free to pick your own toppings, so many things work with crostini – they are perfect for appetisers when having people round for dinner.
A loaf or stick of crusty bread, three peppers (red or orange), one pack of pastrami (parma ham would also be good), a bag of lettuce, one handful of cherry tomatoes, spring onions, an avocado, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, basil, salt & pepper
Firstly you need to prepare your peppers. Turn your grill on to 200°C and wait 5 minutes until it’s heated up. Wash your peppers and put them on a wire rack over a baking tray. Pop them under the grill whole for about 20-25 minutes, turning regularly. Don’t worry if the skin goes black, they will bubble and go black but the flesh underneath will just get softer and sweeter. Honestly, the smell of this process is amazing!
While the peppers are cooking under the grill, slice your bread about 1-2 cm thick and heat a large none stick frying pan. Drizzle oil across your bread (cut side up) and then add them to the hot pan. After a few minutes (or when toasted on the bottom side) drizzle oil over the side facing you and turn them round with tongs. Once done, use your tongs to take them out of the pan and put them on a nice plate or chopping board.
Once your peppers are done, put them on the side and leave them to cool for a few minutes. When you can touch them without any searing pain, peel the skins off, then with a knife remove the top and the seeds inside. Finely slice them and pop them in a bowl with a good glug of olive oil, some black pepper and torn up basil. Leave to soak in the oil and juices.
Now take your pastrami and slice it. Place your pepper and pastrami pieces on each piece of toast and make sure there’s a bit of basil on each one.
Now for the salad. Wash (if necessary) and tear up your lettuce. Half your cherry tomatoes, finely slice your spring onions and slice you avocado. Put them in a gorgeous salad bowl and glug over your balsamic vinegar and olive oil and toss.
A little bit of a naughty lunch, but you’re still getting your vegetables in there, so don’t be too hard on yourself! Honestly, I have to say that these crostini were extremely delicious. The sweetness of the peppers were captured in the oil coating them and just added a bit of twang to the rich, salty beef – all captured on top of crunchy white toast. Oh my word.
Thank you Jennie, that looks FUNBELIEVABLE! I don’t know about the rest of you but I’m going to give it a shot tonight! Don’t miss her main course next week and if you simply can’t wait, find more of Jennie’s amazing recipes on her highly addictive blog by clicking HERE.