As mentioned yesterday we had some friends over for drinks and snacks on Sunday and served a variety of small open-faced sandwiches on toasted slices of baguette, known as Crostini.
The word means ‘little toast’ in Italian and an interesting fact I learned about this dish is that they are thought to have originated back in the medieval times, when it was easier for people to eat their meals off pieces of bread rather than having to use a plate.
I don’t want to give the impression that I was being lazy in choosing to make particularly easy and quick toppings for our toasts, but my motto is why not go easy when the results turn out to be very tasty. Going the easy route allowed me to offer a variety while not spending a ton of time in the kitchen preparing things.
Also worth noting is that all of these require the use of only a regular knife, as opposed to many Crostini topping recipes that require a food processor.
Everything was prepared within an hour the morning of the visit and then just put together quickly before our guests arrived.
The toppings were all vegetarian, with one vegan choice and the recipe cards are at the end of the post. Here’s what we had:
(1) A mixture of Feta, Goat’s Milk cheese and fresh Lemon Juice, topped by Sauteed Mushrooms and Onion, seasoned with Balsamic Vinegar, garlic, thyme and a generous grinding of black pepper.
(2) A spread of Green Peas, Shallot and Cream Cheese, topped with thin slices of radish.
↑↑ I managed to keep my mint plant growing over the winter. It’s not the fullest of plants but provided enough mint for the occasional recipe or Mojito. ↑↑
(3) A chutney of chopped Avocado, Roasted Red Pepper, Hot Pepper and fresh Lime Juice
To make the toasts : Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice a baguette into thin slices that are 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Brush one side with olive oil. Place in single layer on cookie sheets (you’ll need two for one regular sized baguette). Toast until lightly brown, around 6 minutes. Cool completely, and cover tightly until ready to serve. They keep nicely for about a day, but are better if less than 12 hours old. Use leftovers broken up as croutons in a salad. One regular baguette will yield about 40 slices.
Quick and Easy Crostini Topping : Feta, Goat Cheese and Mushrooms
Yield: 12 pieces
All ingredient amounts are approximate:
3 tablespoons crumbled Feta Cheese
3 tablespoons Goat's Milk Cheese
2 teaspoons fresh Lemon Juice
1 teaspoon Olive Oil
8 - 10 mushrooms, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
1 clove fresh garlic or 2 cloves if they're small
1 tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar
1/2 teaspoon dry thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
A generous grinding of black pepper, as much as you like
Salt to taste
Mix cheeses and lemon juice together in a bowl, sort of mashing it together into a paste. Note: it will still be a bit crumbly.
Heat a frying pan and add olive oil, onion and garlic. Saute about one minute and then add mushrooms. Saute until soft, about 2 minutes, and add vinegar, thyme, pepper and salt. Cook another minute or so, to reduce liquid.
Cool mushroom mixture before serving.
To serve, spread cheese mixture on toasted slices of baguette (Crostini) and top with some of the mushroom mixture.
Quick and Easy Crostini Topping : Green Peas, Shallot and Cream Cheese
Yield: 12 pieces
3/4 cup of frozen green peas
1 shallot or 2 green onions, chopped
About 3 tablespoons cream cheese
1 teaspoon olive oil
About 10 fresh mint leaves plus more for garnish (optional)
Salt to taste
Heat olive oil in a frying pan and add shallot or green onions. Saute about 1 minute until cooked. Add peas and cook another minute or so. Remove from heat and mash the peas with the bottom of a drinking glass. Return to low heat and add cream cheese and stir until melted. Add salt.
Transfer mixture into a bowl and allow to cool a bit before stirring in chopped mint leaves.
Mixture may be made ahead and stored in the fridge.
To serve, spread pea mixture on slices of toasted baguette (Crostini). Top with slices of radish and garnish with more mint leaves.