Sometimes I gravitate towards certain foods and I will repeatedly eat them for weeks on end.
There was a length of time when my lunch of choice was ricotta cheese and roasted red peppers wrapped in a tortilla; part wrap and part burrito. It was easy, required very few ingredients and was perfect when my school schedule was tight. Those were the days when I'd work from 9am - 1pm, bike quickly back to my apartment even though it always took 15 minutes, take Gus out, throw my lunch together, and bike back towards campus. Eating lunch before class started was the way to go and that tortilla wrap satisfied my 2pm lunch cravings.
But this is not that wrap/sandwich. In fact, I haven't had that wrap/sandwich in over a year and a half but sometimes it will pop in my head. I'll think about that fluffy ricotta with a sprinkle of salt and freshly ground pepper and the chew of the tortilla. I remember roasting those red bell peppers and setting off the smoke alarm about 3 times in a row causing the neighbors to open their screen door and glare at me through the gate that separates our apartments. Sorry, sorry for sensitive smoke alarms!
Now that I think about it, perhaps that's why I haven't made it since then. It's currently too hot to roast things in the oven and I'm not inclined to set the smoke alarm off anymore than is necessary.
So in my best attempt to re-create that flavor combination but in a different direction, I went with these toasts topped with ricotta cheese and 3 separate toppings. I no longer have to rush to eat lunch anymore so I ditched the tortillas for a good ol' rustic baguette toasted just right. The ricotta is a must due to its mild taste, spreadability and just being an all around great cheese. I roasted cherry tomatoes and shishito peppers from the farmer's market in honor of my original lunch combination. Also because I recently re-discovered how delicious roasting vegetables can be. The figs were an after thought because they were in my fridge and are at the height of their season.
We start by washing and prepping the produce. Remove the stems from the cherry tomatoes and cut the figs into quarters. Set the figs aside for later use. The shishito peppers can be left as is. Their stems provide a nice grip to hold on to.
Next, we'll roast the tomatoes and shishito peppers. Separately though, in two different batches. Drizzle a non-stick pan or cast iron skillet with olive oil and heat to medium-high. Roast until all sides are dark brown and almost burnt looking. You want this caramelization and wrinkly skin. This is approximately 20 minutes for the tomatoes and 10 minutes for the shishito peppers. Season lightly with salt and pepper and set aside.
And let's assemble! Lay sliced bread to be toasted on a sheet pan. Drizzle with olive oil and toast in a 350 Fahrenheit oven for about 5-10 minutes or until the edges are golden brown. Then, spread ricotta cheese and top with the 3 toppings of roasted cherry tomatoes, roasted shishito peppers, and fresh figs. Drizzle the cherry tomatoes with the juice leftover from roasting, the shishito peppers with sesame oil and the figs with honey. Sprinkle all with a little bit of sea salt.
Good for any meal really and eaten right off the pan. To save water, you know, not because I'm lazy. California is in a drought after all.
If you want to be fancy, these are also called crostini but toasts seems more appropriate in this is non-fancy finger food situation of a meal.
Have you ever tried to re-create a dish in a different way? Was the result as expected?
Ricotta Toasts + 3 Toppings
Yields: However many you would like
This is more of an assembly of flavors than an exact recipe. Thus, I have provided no exact measurements.
Salt and pepper to taste
Pre-heat cast iron skillet or non-stick pan to medium-high heat and coat the pan in olive oil.
Wash and prep the produce. Remove the stems from the cherry tomatoes and cut the figs. It's okay to leave the stems on the shishito peppers as they provide a nice grip to hold on to.
Roast the cherry tomatoes and shishito peppers separately in two different batches until all sides are dark brown, almost burnt looking and with wrinkly skin. Turn every so often for even browning. This is approximately 20 minutes for the cherry tomatoes and 10 minutes for the shishito peppers. Season lightly with salt and pepper and set aside.
Pre-heat oven to 350ºF. Slice baguette into ½- inch thickness. Place on a sheet pan and drizzle with olive oil. Toast in the oven for about 5-10 minutes or until the edges are golden brown.
Spread ricotta on the toasts, top with the roasted cherry tomatoes, roasted shishito peppers and the figs.
Drizzle the cherry tomatoes with the juice from roasting, the shishito peppers with the sesame oil and the figs with honey. Sprinkle all with a little bit of sea salt. Serve immediately.