Making it easy to entertain is important to me, as I love having people in my home.  If more than six people (the total that can fit comfortably in my NYC dining room) I always serve buffet style.  I try to enjoy my own party by preparing food before my guests arrive so I can spend time with them instead of being in the kitchen.  I, and my guests, enjoy a more casual atmosphere, so serving finger and room temperature food is my first choice.  Here are some of my favorite crostini recipes, heavy appetizers that can serve as dinner.  Add some interesting cheeses, salami, fruit, crackers, olives and of course, great wine. If you feel you need a main course, follow it with room temperature roast shrimp, or fried / roast chicken, a grain and green salad.  Now go join the party with the rest of your guests!

food italy

Crostini

Use a leftover baguette to make these crostini;  they will keep well in an airtight container for a week.

 Ingredients

  • 1/2 baguette, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, halved crosswise

 Put oven rack in upper third of oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees

Put bread slices in a large shallow baking pan and brush slices with oil. Season lightly with salt and pepper, then bake until pale golden, about 10 minutes. Rub toasts with cut sides of garlic.

Toppings

Black Olive Tapanade

  • 20 pitted Kalamata (or other black olives), coarsely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp rinsed, drained, and chopped capers
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp anchovy paste, or jarred/canned anchovies (optional)
  • Fresh cracked black pepper

Combine olives, capers, lemon juice, olive oil, anchovy paste and Pepper.  Mix well and refrigerate.  Use within two weeks.
Yield: about 1 cup

Basil Pesto

  • 4 cups fresh basil leaves (from about 3 large bunches)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Ruggiero Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated pecorino Sardo
  • 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt

Combine first 4 ingredients in blender. Blend until paste forms, stopping often to push down basil. Add both cheeses and salt; blend until smooth. Transfer to small bowl. (Can be made one day ahead, just top with 1/2 inch olive oil and chill.)

Variations for crostini toppings:  Cook baby shrimp, chop and mix with pesto; cut up cooked chicken breasts into tiny pieces and mix with pesto.

 Eggplant Pesto

  • 1 1 1/4-pound eggplant
  • Olive oil
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
  • Baguette slices, toasted
  • Fresh basil leaves

Peel eggplant, leaving a few narrow bands of skin intact. Cut eggplant crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick rounds. Place on large baking sheet; sprinkle lightly with salt. Let stand 30 minutes.

Preheat broiler. Rinse eggplant; pat dry with paper towels. Brush large baking sheet with olive oil. Brush eggplant rounds generously on both sides with olive oil. Place on prepared sheet. Broil eggplant until tender and golden brown, watching closely to avoid burning, about 6 minutes per side. Cool.

Finely grind pine nuts and garlic in processor. Add eggplant and process to coarse puree. Transfer mixture to small bowl. Stir in chopped basil, parsley and mint. Season with salt and pepper. (Can be made one day ahead. Cover and chill. Bring to room temperature before continuing.)

Place eggplant pesto in center of platter and surround with toasts, or spread toasts with eggplant pesto and arrange on platter. Garnish with basil leaves and serve.

 Artichoke Tapenade

  • 1 (7 ounce) jar roasted red peppers, coarsely chopped
  • 1 (6 ounce) jar marinated artichoke hearts, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup drained capers
  • 4 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Combine all ingredients in food processor, turning off/on until finely chopped. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt& pepper.

 Hummus

  • 1 16 oz can of chickpeas or garbanzo beans
  • 1/4 cup liquid from can of chickpeas
  • 3-5 tablespoons lemon juice (depending on taste)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons tahini
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tea cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Drain chickpeas and set aside liquid from can. Combine remaining ingredients in blender or food processor. Add 1/4 cup of liquid from chickpeas. Blend for 3-5 minutes on low until thoroughly mixed and smooth.

Place in serving bowl, and create a shallow well in the center of the hummus. Add a small amount (1-2 tablespoons) of olive oil in the well. Garnish with parsley. Serve with fresh, warm or toasted pita bread.

 Bruschetta

  • 4  ripe medium tomatoes, diced
  • 4  leaves basil, chopped
  • 2  tablespoons  extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • clove garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1/2  teaspoon  sea salt
  • 1/8  teaspoon  freshly ground pepper

In a medium bowl, mix tomatoes, basil, olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper.  Spoon on to crostini and drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil.

tapas8

Crostini with Mushroom Topping

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 12 ounces assorted wild mushrooms (such as stemmed shiitake, oyster, black trumpet, and crimini), sliced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme

Thyme vinaigrette:

  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 small shallot, chopped
  • 1/2 cup olive oil plus more for brushing
  • 8 1/3- to 1/2-inch-thick slices pain rustique or other flat country bread
  • Truffle oil

For mushroom topping:
Melt butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and thyme. Sauté until browned, about 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.  Can be made one day ahead. Cover; chill. Rewarm before using.

For thyme vinaigrette:
Blend first 4 ingredients in blender 10 seconds. With machine running, gradually add 1/2 cup olive oil; blend until almost smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 400°F. Arrange bread on rimmed baking sheet. Brush with oil. Bake until beginning to crisp, about 8 minutes.

Mound 1/4 cup mushrooms on each bread slice. Drizzle each with thyme vinaigrette, then sparingly with truffle oil.

 Crostini with White Bean and Basil Marinated Shrimp

  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves, loosely packed
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 24 large cooked shrimp, sliced in half lengthwise
  • 8 (1-inch-thick) slices ciabatta (from 1 large loaf)
  • 4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, coarsely chopped (from 2 sprigs)
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock or low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 (15 ounce) can white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 4 ounces arugula, coarsely chopped (about 4 cups loosely packed)
  • 2 teaspoons chile-garlic sauce

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In blender, pulse basil, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper until smooth. Transfer to small bowl, add shrimp, and toss to combine. Refrigerate, covered, at least 1 hour and up to 24 hours.

Brush ciabatta slices on both sides with oil (about 1/4 cup total) and sprinkle with salt and pepper (about 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper total). Arrange in single layer on rimmed baking sheet and bake until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes.

In heavy medium saucepan over moderately high heat, heat 1/4 cup oil until hot but not smoking. Add garlic, rosemary, and sauté until golden, about 2 minutes. Add stock and beans and bring to boil, and then reduce heat to moderate and simmer, uncovered, until liquid is reduced by 1/3, about 2 minutes. Transfer to blender and purée until smooth. With motor running, add 2 tablespoons oil and blend until incorporated. Blend in 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Set purée aside.

In small bowl, whisk together lemon juice, remaining 1/4 cup olive oil, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

Transfer arugula to medium bowl, drizzle with olive oil–lemon juice mixture, and toss to combine.

Spread about 2 tablespoons white bean mixture on each bread slice, then top each with 1/2 cup arugula and 6 shrimp halves. Drizzle 1/4 teaspoon chili-garlic sauce over each slice and serve immediately.

 Tapas9

Chicken Liver & Sage Crostini

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 12 medium fresh sage leaves, thinly sliced, plus 1 teaspoon chopped sage
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 8 ounces (about 1 cup) chicken or turkey livers, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup Madeira
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 12 baguette slices, toasted
  • Additional whole sage leaves (optional)

Line plate with paper towels. Heat oil in medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add sliced sage; sauté until crisp, about 30 seconds. Using slotted spoon, transfer sautéed sage to paper towels. Add onion to same skillet; sauté until golden, about 3 minutes. Add garlic, chopped liver, and 1 teaspoon chopped sage. Stir until liver is no longer red, about 3 minutes. Increase heat to high, add Madeira, and cook until wine has evaporated, about 2 minutes. Add salt and pepper. Divide liver mixture among baguette slices. Top with sautéed sage. Serve crostini on bed of fresh sage leaves, if desired.

tapas7 

Roast Beef & Arugula Crostini

  • 3 tablespoons chopped drained roasted red peppers from jar
  • 3 tablespoons slivered pitted black olives (such as Kalamata)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • 5 ounces fresh goat cheese
  • 16 1/4-inch-thick diagonal baguette slices, toasted
  • 1 ounce baby arugula
  • 16 very thin slices homemade rare roast beef (I grill a couple of filet‘s and slice them very thin)

Mix red peppers, olives, thyme, and vinegar in small bowl for relish. (Can be made one day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.) Reserve 2 tablespoons goat cheese for garnish. Spread remaining goat cheese on toasted baguette slices. Divide arugula among toasts. Fold roast beef slices to fit toasts; place atop arugula. Sprinkle beef slices lightly with salt and pepper. Top each with 1/3 teaspoon reserved goat cheese and small dollop of relish. Arrange crostini on platter and serve.

 Crostini with Gorgonzola and Figs

  • 8 1/3-inch-thick baguette slices
  • 1/3 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese (about 2 ounces), room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon butter, room temperature
  • 3 large fresh ripe figs, cut into thin wedges
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil (preferably extra-virgin)

Preheat broiler. Arrange baguette slices on baking sheet. Broil until lightly toasted on one side.

Mash crumbled Gorgonzola and ne tablespoon butter in small bowl until smooth. Spread Gorgonzola mixture evenly over untoasted side of baguette slices. Top with figs. Drizzle oil over figs. Broil until Gorgonzola mixture bubbles around edges, about 3 minutes. Transfer crostini to platter and serve.

 Other Crostini Ideas:

  • Fig and blue cheese
  • Thin sliced Prosciutto and Fig
  • Spanish tuna (in jar packed in olive oil) with chick peas and smoked Spanish paprika spread
  • Chicken salad spread – chop all fine, cooked chicken, celery, scallions,  cashews; add fresh lemon juice and olive oil dressing.

 

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