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Goat Cheese Truffles with Peperonata


Stewed peppers, tomatoes and onions form a classic Italian peperonata. Batali's is made simply with stewed sweet peppers and sherry vinegar.

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  1. 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  2. 2 red bell peppers, cut into thin strips
  3. 2 yellow bell peppers, cut into thin strips
  4. 1/4 cup sherry vinegar
  5. Salt and freshly ground pepper
  6. 1 1/2 pounds arugula, large stems discarded
  7. 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  8. 1 pound mild soft goat cheese, at room temperature
  9. 2 tablespoons fennel pollen or crushed fennel seeds (see Note)
  10. 2 tablespoons poppy seeds
  11. 2 tablespoons sweet paprika
  12. Eight 1/2-inch-thick slices Italian peasant bread, grilled or toasted
  1. In a skillet, heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil. Add the peppers and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until they start to brown, about 8 minutes. Add the vinegar and cook over low heat until the peppers are tender, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and transfer to a bowl.
  2. Prepare a bowl of ice water. In a pot of boiling water, blanch the arugula until wilted, about 10 seconds. Transfer to the ice water to chill. Drain the arugula and gently squeeze it dry; chop coarsely.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the lemon juice with the remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Put the goat cheese in a bowl; season with salt and pepper. Using a tablespoon, scoop up the cheese and roll it into 24 balls. Put the fennel seeds, poppy seeds and paprika in bowls. Roll 8 cheese balls in the fennel seeds, 8 in the poppy seeds and 8 in the paprika.
  5. To serve, mound the arugula on 8 plates and top with the bell peppers. Place one of each kind of goat cheese truffle on top of the arugula and drizzle with olive oil. Place a slice of the bread next to the arugula and serve.
Fennel pollen is available in the U.S. from specialty purveyors such as chefshop.com and zingermans.com.