Under the Tuscan Sun: Red Pepper and Balsamic Brushette

I was looking for a film to watch with a good story and some delicious food scenes and Under The Tuscan Sun did not disappoint. The film is based off of Frances Mayes’ memoir of the same name which details her impulsive purchase of a villa in Tuscany following a divorce and how she settles into her new life. I found the portrayal of Francis charming, the story delightful, and the food appealing so I attempted to recreate a little bit of Tuscany in my kitchen.

There is a scene in the film where Francis has started to acclimate to her new life in Tuscany and cooks for her construction crew. She writes a menu on a chalkboard that made my mouth water. Out of all the dishes she writes on the board one stood out to me: Red Pepper and Balsamic Bruschette.  I love bruschette and the idea of having it with peppers as the star was intriguing.

I thought, what better way to try a recipe from a film than by using the actual recipe that is from the film? FYI,  Francis Mayes has also written a very successful cookbook that coincides with her life in Tuscany. So it seemed like a no brainer for this post to use her recipe from the book, the film, and her real life lol.

The significance of the bruschette is pretty obvious, the cooking of food in the scene is representative of her metamorphosis in the film. Francis doesn’t cook until she has decided to embrace her new life; until she has changed along with her surroundings. The fact that she is cooking Italian food is symbolic of the fact that she has shed the hurtful American part of her life and she is ready to see things according to an Italian worldview.


In this scene Francis is done mourning her marriage which is symbolized by the precence of the food. Frances’ state of emotional starvation is giving way to nourishment when she brings food back into her life. It is also interesting to note the people she is feeding with this meal are the people who are literally giving her a new foundation for her new life.

The recipe for Red Pepper Balsamic Breschette couldn’t be simpler, the ingredients are only peppers, olives and balsamic vinegar. The most difficult part about this recipe is the waiting. You have to simmer this low and slow for what seems like forever. Francis’ recipe states to cook about 40 minutes but I found the texture of the dish more to my liking after about an hour.

Normally, I don’t care for olives but the smell of this dish cooking made me forget that fact.  I tasted it and I felt transported. The flavors are deep and delicious. I ate the leftovers with eggs the next day.

The charming landscapes, the food, atmosphere and the glimpse in to the culture of Tuscany in this film left me happy and hungry.  I was glad that Francis was able to find friendship, family and love in Tuscany during this film. I was even happier  found such a great recipe!


Francis Mayes’ Red Pepper and Balsamic Breschette (Red Peppers Melted with Balsamic Vinegar)

3 Red Bell Peppers, seeded and thinly sliced

1/2 cup black olives pitted

3 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil, or more if needed

1/4 Cup Balsamic Vinegar, or more if needed

1/4 tsp Salt

1/4 tsp Pepper

Prepared Brushette or Crostini

  1. In a large skillet on lowest heat, cook the peppers and olives, uncovered, with the oilive oil and balsamic vinegar until the peppers are soft, about 40 minutes. Stir occasionally; the peppers should almost “melt.” Add more olive oil and balsamic vinegar if they look dry. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon peppers onto bread and serve warm.


This recipe is from Francis Mayes cookbook, The Tuscan Sun Cookbook.


This entry was posted in Film.

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