These tangy, spicy little snacks are just the job for a quick lunch or as part of a tapas spread and they transport you from the depths of an English winter to summer in Spain. I make the red pepper sauce so often, here and in Catalunya, that it’s become known in the family as Salsa Linda.
It actually originates from Spanish Cooking at Home and on Holiday by Maite Manjon and Catherine O’Brien, a book that I rate so highly I have two copies, one in each country. It’s out of print but still available second-hand.
I’ve tweaked the recipe very slightly (of course I have) but the sauce, designed for fish, works with meats, too. We dollop it over everything from sausages to shish kebabs. I’ve used it here on a bruschetta with smoked anchovies. Regular anchovies from a jar work, too, and so do the little pickled anchovies of Spain, boquerones.
If the mere thought of anchovies makes you gag - these people do exist, I’m told - try crumbling over a sharp goat’s cheese instead.
The salsa is best made in advance: it will thicken in the fridge and the flavours will blend better. The recipe will make way more than you need unless you’re feeding a mob, but it will keep in the fridge for three or four days.
For the bruschetta, reckon on two smoked anchovies, two cherry tomatoes and one sun-dried tomato per slice. I served two slices per person. If you’d like to make smaller bites as a tapa, use a baguette instead of ciabatta. You don’t need to rub the bread with garlic, the sauce is garlicky enough.
Bruschetta with Peppers and Smoked Anchovies
A quantity of smoked anchovies
A quantity of cherry tomatoes, halved
About a handful of sun-dried tomatoes, roughly chopped
Coriander to garnish
For the salsa:
About 360g (drained weight) jar of roasted red peppers
3 cloves of garlic, peeled
1 small chilli (optional but good)
1 tspn sweet smoked paprika (ditto)
2-3 skinned tomatoes
1/2 tspn salt
3-4 tbsp olive oil
2-3 tbsp red wine vinegar
Roughly chop the red peppers, garlic and chilli. Add to a food processor with the skinned tomatoes, salt and paprika and blend until smooth. Add the olive oil and wine vinegar and whizz again. Scrape into a bowl, cover and set aside in the fridge.
Cut as many slices of your ciabatta as you require and toast them. Spread quite thickly with the salsa and top first with the sun-dried and fresh tomatoes, then with the smoked anchovies. Garnish with coriander and eat straight away.