Grilled Bread with Red Peppers and Eggplant

Escalivada

For the Escalivada
2 medium eggplant, surfaces pricked with a fork
2 red bell peppers
2 to 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, very thinly sliced
For the bread and tomato
6 slices country or peasant bread
1 large clove garlic, halved
2 or 3 small ripe tomatoes, halved crosswise
extra-virgin olive oil to taste
coarse salt or sea salt to taste

To make the escalivada -- Prepare a hot fire in a grill or heat the broiler. Put the eggplant and red peppers on the grill or in a shallow pan set under the broiler (turn on the exhaust fan). Grill or broil the vegetables until they're completely blackened and the eggplant is soft, carefully turning them every few minutes with tongs; the peppers take about 8 min. under the broiler and the eggplant about 14 min. Wrap them snugly in a paper grocery bag so they steam.

After 20 min., unwrap the vegetables and peel off the skins. Halve the peppers lengthwise, remove the core, scrape out the seeds, and cut the flesh into long, fine strips. Remove the eggplant stems but leave the seeds (unless they're unpleasantly large) and pull the flesh into thin strips with your fingers. Toss the peppers and eggplant in a bowl with the olive oil and garlic.

To make the bread and tomato -- Grill or toast the bread; while it's still warm, rub a garlic half onto the crust and on one side of each slice. Rub the tomato halves on the garlic-rubbed side of the toasts so they turn rosy with pulp. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and pile on a tangle of escalivada. Cut the toasts in half, if large, and serve.

Serves six.



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