Heirloom Tomato and Pepper Toasts with Whipped Ricotta

Velvety smooth, lightly seasoned ricotta serves as the perfect base for juicy ripe tomatoes and charred peppers on grilled levain bread. Fennel pollen adds a light licorice flavor, while fresh basil, chives, and a hint of lemon juice add brightness to the smoky flavor from the grill.


    • 2 pounds ripe heirloom tomatoes
    • 1 7/8 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
    • 5/8 teaspoon black pepper, divided
    • 2 cups whole-milk ricotta
    • 2 ounces heirloom or baby peppers (such as Jimmy Nardello or shishito)
    • 1/4 cup  Garlic Oil  or extra-virgin olive oil, divided
    • 1 (16-ounce) levain or other rustic bread loaf, cut into 3/4-inch slices
    • 1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt (such as J.Q. Dickinson)
    • 1/8 teaspoon fennel pollen or toasted and crushed fennel seeds
    • 1/4 cup small fresh basil leaves
    • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh chives
    • 1/2 lemon
    • Hot sauce (optional)


  1. Cut tomatoes into 1/2-inch-thick pieces; place on a plate, and season with 1 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Set aside.
  2. Combine ricotta, 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, and remaining 1/8 teaspoon black pepper in a food processor. Process until smooth and light, about 30 seconds.
  3. Toss together peppers and 1 tablespoon garlic oil. Brush both sides of bread slices with remaining 3 tablespoons garlic oil.
  4. Preheat grill to high (450°F to 500°F). Place peppers on oiled grates; grill, uncovered, turning often, until speckled with char, about 3 minutes. Place bread on grill, and grill, uncovered, until well toasted, about 1 minute and 30 seconds per side. Remove any charred, thick skin from peppers. Season with remaining 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt; cut into bite-size pieces, and set aside.
  5. To assemble toasts, spread about 2 tablespoons ricotta mixture on each bread slice. Divide tomatoes and peppers evenly among toasts; sprinkle with flaky sea salt and fennel pollen. Top toasts with basil, chives, a squeeze of lemon, and, if desired, a dash of hot sauce. Serve immediately.