Sautéed Italian sausage and bell peppers with a touch of balsamic vinegar top crisp French bread in this crowd-pleasing appetizer. What’s also great about it is that the topping and the crostini can be made ahead then assembled, topped with cheese, and baked come party time.
1 loaf French bread, (about 8 to 10 ounces), sliced into 32 (1/4-inch thick) slices
1/4 cup plus 1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 cups diced red bell pepper
12 ounces Italian pork sausage, removed from casings
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup chopped basil leaves
- Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.
- Arrange bread on prepared pan and brush tops with 1/4 cup of the olive oil. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until lightly toasted.
- Meanwhile heat remaining 1 Tablespoon olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over high heat and sauté peppers until nicely charred and tender, about 5 minutes; remove to a plate.
- Add sausage to same skillet and sauté, breaking up meat into small chunks with a wooden spoon, until browned, about 5 minutes.
- Add garlic and fennel seeds and cook over medium heat 1 minute or until fragrant. Stir in balsamic vinegar, scraping up browned bits from bottom of skillet.
- Return peppers to skillet and sprinkle with salt; toss. Remove from heat.
- Top crostini with sausage mixture and sprinkle with cheese.
- Bake 5 to 7 minutes or until cheese melts. Sprinkle with chopped basil.