Peperonata & Robiola Crostini



The stewed bell pepper dish peperonata is popular throughout Italy, with some regional variations including the Piedmontese povronà made with lots of sliced onion, tomato, and a bit of broth added towards the end of cooking, and rustisana from Emilia-Romagna, which calls for other vegetables like zucchini and potato in addition to peppers and tomato. Sometimes garlic and a bit of red chili will be added, and the range of herbs varies as well, according to personal taste and regional traditions (I usually use thyme, marjoram, and/or basil).

Recipes abound. You’ll find one in most Italian cookbooks, and the web is literally exploding with options. This recipe¬†from Great Italian Chefs is a solid starting point if you’re making this dish for the first time. Try it with grilled sausages or, as pictured above, as a crostini topping: after the peperonata has cooled down, top slices of grilled (or toasted) bread with a soft, creamy cheese, then add a spoonful of peppers and return to the oven briefly to warm. Finish with chopped fresh herbs of your choice.

By the by, the star of this particular post is the robiola, a fresh cheese from Piedmont and Lombardy (primarily) whose name most likely derives from the village of Robbio, although other sources point to the word rubeola, from the Latin ruber (red), given the reddish color the rinds sometimes take on during aging. Look for something like this, if possible 100% goat’s milk, rather than this.