Creamy ricotta, fresh thyme and roasted red bell peppers seasoned with salt and pepper and dressed in garlicky balsamic vinaigrette served on a crunchy roasted or grilled slice of bread! How’s that for a dreamy bruschetta that melts in your mouth?
One of my favorite things while living in Italy was the abundance of bread and all the authentic Italian toppings. You know, the bruschetta thing! I ate it as a snack, as an appetizer, even as a small meal; and I still do! Of course, the most known and popular bruschetta outside of Italy is prepared with diced tomatoes and fresh basil, but that’s not the only recipe. When it comes to bruschetta toppings, the sky is the limit. Today, I have a heavenly ricotta and roasted red bell pepper bruschetta, with lovely garlic and balsamic vinaigrette. Fresh thyme is a must in this combination, but I tend to be a bit partial when it comes to fresh thyme.
Did you know? In Italian, bruschetta is pronounced [bruˈsketta].
A few smart words before we skip to the recipe! For this recipe, I used roasted red bell peppers. One roasted bell pepper makes four to six bruschettas (is bruscettas a word, by the way? Or should we just say bruschette like Italians do?). I don’t think roasting just a couple of red bell peppers would be very economical so I roast at least five at the same time. Some are used for this recipe and the leftovers make a great side dish or sandwich filling.
Red bell peppers can be roasted ahead of time and stored in an air tight container in the fridge, covered in olive oil only. Don’t add any salt or balsamic vinegar until you’re ready to serve them. Use your best judgment on how far ahead to make them (I usually do it a day or two ahead), and how long to store them in the fridge.
- Roast your peppers ahead of time.
- When buying balsamic vinegar, try to get vinegar made in either Modena or Reggio Emilia, two Italian cities where balsamic vinegar is traditionally made. I was thrilled when Amazon started carrying balsamic vinegar I loved and used in Italy.
Best time to serve this baby? Anytime, but really about 30 minutes before dinner when the toddler crankiness spikes up would definitely be the ultimate time! For toddler’s little hands quarter the bread slices and dice the peppers.
For this recipe, you will need:
- A cutting board and chef’s knife
- A bread knife if your bread is not pre-sliced
- Measuring Spoons
- A baking sheet and parchment paper
- A small bowl/ Ramekin
- Medium size bowl
- A small whisk or fork
- 2 red bell peppers
- 4 slices of good multi-grain bread
- 6 - 8 tbsp ricotta cheese
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
- 2 tsp fresh thyme
- 1 clove of garlic, whole
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- ½ tsp salt
- ⅛ tsp ground black pepper
- ½ tsp sea salt (optional)
- To Roast Peppers: Preheat oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Wash and dry red bell peppers.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place whole peppers on the baking sheet. Bake for 45 minutes (or until the skin all over the pepper is wrinkly and charred), turning every 15 minutes to char the sides.
- Take out of the oven and transfer to a clean bowl to cool, cover tightly.
- Once the peppers are cool enough to handle, gently peel off most of the charred skin. Pull the stem and seeds out of the pepper. Cut open the pepper to remove ribs and any remaining seeds. Cut the peppers in ¼ inch thick strips. If storing peppers for later use, place them in a container with a lid and cover in olive oil. Store in a fridge.
- To assemble the bruschetta: Turn the broiler on high and broil bread slices for 2 minutes or until the surface is nice and brown. Flip the slices and broil the other side of the bread the same way. Watch closely as the time will depend on the strength of your broiler.
- In a small bowl, mix the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, minced garlic, salt, and black pepper. Whisk vigorously.
- In a bigger bowl, combine the sliced peppers and balsamic vinaigrette you just prepared. Sprinkle with fresh thyme.
- Cut the whole clove of garlic lengthwise and using one half, the cut side down, gently rub the toasted bread.
- Depending on the size of your bread slices, spread 1 to 2 tbsp of ricotta cheese on each slice and sprinkle with fresh thyme. Optional: sprinkle the cheese with some sea salt.
- Top it off with 3-4 strips of marinaded red bell pepper (roughly ⅓ to ½ of a pepper). Sprinkle with more fresh thyme and serve immediately.
You could also use a grill or stove top skillet to toast the bread. Toasting it on both sides is necessary to give bread good crunch since both the ricotta and peppers will be soft.
Note: this post contains affiliate links to Amazon products I use and love.