I love the versatility of crostini appetizers. Thin slices of toasted baguette, brushed with olive oil and sea salt and baked at 350 for about 10 minutes are the foundation of this easy and versatile hors d’oeuvres. You can make the crostini a day ahead, and cover in an airtight container to top and eat later. They are great for a quick snack, or can be more elaborately topped for a party.
I have been making these lately using farmer’s market vegetables as topping inspiration. Place thinly sliced avocadoes on the crostini, and sprinkle with sesame seeds and cracked black pepper and drizzle with sesame oil for a quick appetizer. Or, try your hand at cooking up a couple of the toppings below for more healthy and delicious spreads.
Fresh Tomato and Basil Topping
2-3 tomatoes, halved, seeded and chopped into small dice
1 shallot, chopped fine
sea salt and pepper to taste
½ fresh basil, chopped fine (plus more for garnish)
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar (or fresh lemon juice)
1 tablespoon olive oil
Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Spoon onto crostini and sprinkle with chopped fresh basil.
Ratatouille and Fresh Basil Topping
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
3 tablespoons oil
2 small zucchini, sliced
1 small yellow zucchini, sliced
1 small eggplant chopped
3 large tomatoes chopped, or 1 large can pomodoro tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon herbes de provence
¼ cup each fresh parsley, fresh rosemary, and fresh basil
½ cup basil leaves, chopped (for garnish)
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in large skillet over medium heat, add chopped onion and garlic and sauté for 5 minutes or until translucent. Transfer onions and garlic to bowl. Add second tablespoon of oil and add zucchini, browning slightly on each side. Transfer to onion/garlic bowl. Add third tablespoon olive oil and add chopped eggplant, browning slightly for about 7 minutes. Return garlic, onions and zucchini to skillet. Add tomatoes and all herbs. Stir and let simmer on medium low heat for about 25 minutes. Note: If using canned tomatoes, you can add the juices if needed. You may also add about a half cup of water or vegetable stock if more liquid is needed with fresh tomatoes.
Let cool. Spoon onto crostini and sprinkle with fresh chopped basil.
Ricotta Cheese with Edamame, Sugar Snap Peas and Haricots Topping
½ cup shelled edamame
1 cup fresh haricots verts, ends trimmed
1 cup sugar snap peas, trimmed and stemmed
8 oz. ricotta cheese
1 teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon each sea salt and pepper
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup chopped chives for garnish
Steam edamame, haricots verts and snap peas for about 8-10 minutes, until crisp tender. Drain and let cool. In the bowl of a food processor, combine all beans, cumin, salt and pepper. Add ricotta cheese and blend with vegetables. Drizzle in olive oil.
Spoon onto crostini and sprinkle with fresh chopped chives.
**Note** this can be made lactose free or vegan by substituting 8 oz firm tofu in place of ricotta, and adding 1 teaspoon nutritional yeast (available at Whole Foods).