Crostini is just another name for slices of bread that have been brushed with oil and baked until golden brown. Crostini make for an endless variety of near-instant hors d’oeuvres. Just spoon on your pick of toppings and watch the crostini disappear!
Crostini is the Italian word for “little toasts”. Crostini are believed to be a kind of Italian peasant food that originated in medieval times. The Italians, too poor to possess ceramic plates, preferred to eat their food by keeping it on the surface of slices of bread. The Italians, not a group to waste anything, often ate stale bread which had to be soaked in juices or wine in order to chew it properly.
Bruschetta and crostini are both bread preparations used in antipasti – but what is the difference?
The difference between bruschettas and crostini is the type of bread used. Bruschetta, from the Italian word “bruscare” meaning “to roast over coals”, is made by toasting whole, wide slices of a rustic Italian or sourdough type bread. Crostini are sliced from a smaller, round, finer-textured bread, more like a white bread baguette. In Italy you might find yourself offered an antipasto of four or five different crostini, no more than a couple of mouthfuls each, accompanied by some olives, but only one or two of the larger bruschetta would be plenty.
Some do’s and don’t I picked up from the Bon Appetit Test Kitchen to ensure successful crostini.
Not starting with good bread
The bread you use should be high quality; look for fresh baguettes, boules and hearty country bread, preferably from a local bakery (as opposed to supermarket brands). Texture is very important–it shouldn’t be too dense.
Slicing the bread too thick or thin
The bread needs to be thin enough to bite, but thick enough to support toppings -1/2-inch thick is just right.
Skipping the oil
Brush olive oil on each piece before toasting it. Why? It makes the surface of the bread less dry. And it just tastes better.
Over-toasting the bread
If the crostini are too hard, they will hurt your guests’ mouths and flake all over their clothes. The ideal texture: crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. To achieve it, bake, grill or broil bread over high heat, making sure to toast both sides. (If you cook on too low a heat, the bread will dehydrate and crumble upon first bite.) You’ll know it’s finished when the edges are browned but the center is lighter in color and still has a little spring to it.
Forgetting the flavor
Flavor your crostini right after toasting. Things you can rub on the bread: a raw garlic clove, a tomato half – cut side-down or a whole lemon or orange–rind. The crispy bread will pick up the fruit’s essential oils.
Going overboard with your topping
If you pile on the topping, it’s going to fall off when you bite into the crostini. You should be able to take bites without worrying about staining your shirt or dress.
Overdressing your topping
Wet topping = soggy bread. Use a slotted spoon when working with a wet topping (tomatoes, etc.) so that extra liquid is left behind. If using greens, dress them lightly.
How To Make Crostini Toasts
Using a serrated knife, cut one 8 ounce baguette diagonally into ½ inch slices. Makes about 20 slices.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Arrange the bread on 2 large baking sheets and brush each slice on both sides with olive oil. Bake for about 8-10 minutes, or until the edges of the bread are golden brown. Turn the slices over half way through the baking time. Let cool completely. Store at room temperature.
Grill or Broil
Brush bread slices lightly on both sides with olive oil.
Grill for 15 to 20 seconds on each side, until lightly brown, then remove with tongs and set aside.
For broiling, position the rack so the slices are 2 inches from the flame and turn them over when the crostini start to brown at the edges.
Here are some of my favorite combinations. They are easy to prepare and are always a big hit when I entertain. The recipes are based on 20 slices of crostini.
Shrimp and Pesto
Cut 10 medium peeled and deveined shrimp in half lengthwise.
In a skillet saute 1 minced garlic clove and the shrimp in 1 tablespoon of olive oil until the shrimp turn pink.
Spread each crostini with homemade or store bought basil pesto. Place one shrimp half on each crostini and sprinkle each with shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.
Drain two 6 ounce jars of marinated artichoke hearts, reserving 2 tablespoons of the marinade.
Finely chop the artichokes and place in a mixing bowl with the reserved marinade.
Stir in ½ cup finely chopped sun dried tomatoes packed in oil and drained, 2 tablespoons pitted and chopped Kalamata olives and 2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley.
Mix well and spread mixture on the crostini slices and sprinkle the top with feta cheese.
Rub crostini with a garlic clove or two as soon as they come out of the oven. Sprinkle each with a little balsamic vinegar.
Top each with the following
- 1 slice of plum (Roma) tomato
- 1 thin slice of fresh mozzarella cheese
- 1 fresh basil leaf
Grind fresh black pepper over each crostini.
Olive Orange Spread
In a food processor combine:
- 1 cup pitted Kalamata olives
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons chopped onion
- 1 tablespoon chopped italian parsley
- 1 tablespoon orange juice
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
Pulse until coarsely chopped.
Spread on the crostini, top each with an orange segment and a small piece of arugula.
Roasted Red Pepper and Prosciutto
In a food processor combine one 12 oz jar of roasted red peppers, drained, with a large pinch of cayenne pepper. Process until almost smooth.
Spread pepper mixture on the crostini.
Top with a piece of prosciutto and shredded mozzarella cheese.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake crostini until the cheese melts. Serve warm.
Cannellini Bean Spread
In a food processor coarsely process one drained 15 oz. can cannellini beans. Remove to a mixing bowl.
Stir in ¼ cup shredded zucchini, 2 tablespoons chopped green onions, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar and ½ teaspoon coarse grained mustard.
Spread on crostini slices. Top each with a half of a grape tomato and sprinkle with fresh thyme leaves.
Cremini Mushroom Spread
Thinly slice 12 oz cremini mushrooms. In a skillet heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and cook 3 minced garlic cloves for 1 minute. Add the mushrooms and cook for 8-10 minutes until the mushrooms are tender.
Stir in 1/3 cup white wine. Simmer uncovered for 5 minutes or until wine evaporates. Season with salt and pepper.
Spread crostini with a thin layer of mascarpone cheese. Top with mushrooms and sprinkle with chopped fresh chives.
Caramelized Sweet Onions and Gorgonzola
Halve and thinly slice 3 sweet onions. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons butter. Add onions and cook, covered, on medium low for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover and cook for 5 more minutes, or until the onions turn golden. Season with salt and pepper.
Spoon onions on the crostini and sprinkle with crumbled gorgonzola cheese.
Lemon Ricotta with Fruit and Honey
Stir together 1 cup of whole milk ricotta cheese, 1 teaspoon shredded lemon peel and 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Spread mixture on crostini.
Top each with thinly sliced fresh strawberries or figs.
Drizzle with honey and top each with a mint leaf.
What Are Your Favorite Toppings For Crostini?
- Apple Havarti Crostini (missmacgyverdotcom.wordpress.com)
- Recipe: Tomato Cheese Crostini (mmurphy65.wordpress.com)
- How to Make Crostini for your Holiday Parties (confessionsofanover-workedmom.com)
- White Bean and Sage Crostini (veganfoodaddict.wordpress.com)
- Asparagus and vegan cream cheese on crostini (fairfoods.wordpress.com)
- Blueberry Crostini (inspiredhealthyorganized.wordpress.com)
- Four Wheat-free Crostini (wonderfultips.wordpress.com)
- Easy Toaster Oven Garlic Crostini (toasterovenliving.wordpress.com)
- Salami Crostini (ericasrecipes.wordpress.com)
Although its botanical name Prunus Persica refers to Persia because the Persians introduced the fruit into the Western world, peaches actually originated in China, where they have been cultivated since the early days of Chinese culture, circa 2000 BC. Peaches were mentioned in Chinese writings as far back as the 10th century BC and were a favored fruit of kings and emperors. Currently, the history of the cultivation of peaches in China has been extensively reviewed, citing numerous original manuscripts that date back to 1100 BC.
Its English name derives originally from the Latin malum persicum, “Persian apple”, which became the French pêche and peach in Middle English.
The peach was brought to India and Western Asia in ancient times. Peach cultivation went from China, through Persia, and reached Greece by 300 BC. Alexander the Great introduced the fruit into Europe after he conquered the Persians. Romans began cultivating peaches in the first century AD. Then it was brought to the Americas by Spanish explorers in the 16th century and, eventually, made it to England and France in the 17th century, where it was prized and considered a rare treat.
Although Thomas Jefferson had peach trees at Monticello, United States farmers did not begin commercial production until the 19th century, mostly in the Middle Atlantic States. California today raises 65 percent of the peaches grown for commercial production in the United States, but the states of South Carolina, New Jersey, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Washington also grow a significant amount. Italy, China, India and Greece are major producers of peaches outside of the United States.
Some Peach Facts:
A freestone peach is one where the flesh separates easily from the pit. When the fruit is cut in half, the pit can be removed by hand. It may even fall out if you tip the cut fruit over.
Clingstone peaches have flesh that clings to the pit. When the fruit is cut in half, it is very difficult to separate the two halves because the flesh sticks to the pit.
Peaches are a favorite fruit for snacking, for cereal, and for pies and jams. Peach ice cream is a summer favorite. Ripe peaches also freeze well for later use.
You can ripen peaches by placing them in a brown paper bag for two to three days. Sliced, fresh peaches should be tossed in lemon or lime juice to prevent browning.
You can do a variety of things with peaches.
• Baked – Peach cakes, peach cobbler, and peach pastries
• Pureed – Make peach chutney, peach salsa and peach sauces.
• Poached – Peaches can be poached in sugar syrup to make a variety of desserts.
• Sliced – Use for salads and desserts
• Boiled – Cut the peaches and boil to make jams and marmalades.
How to peel peaches:
Place peaches in a large pot of boiling water for 10-20 seconds or until the skin splits.
Remove with a slotted spoon. Immediately place in an ice water bath to cool the peaches and stop the cooking process.
Use a paring knife to peel the skin, which should come off easily. If stubborn areas of skin won’t peel off, just return fruit to the boiling water for a few more seconds.
How to make peach puree:
Yield: Makes about 1 cup
- 1 cup peeled and chopped fresh peaches or 1 cup frozen
- 1 teaspoon sugar
Process peaches, sugar, and 1 tablespoon water in a blender 1 minute or until smooth. Transfer to a small bowl; cover and chill until ready to use.
Yield: Makes about 1 cup
- 3 cups coarsely chopped peeled ripe peaches (about 1 pound)
- 1 teaspoon grated lime rind
- 1 cup fresh lime juice (about 4 large limes)
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup packed mint leaves
- 2 cups white rum
- 4 cups club soda, chilled
- Crushed ice
- Mint sprigs (optional)
Place peaches in a blender or food processor; process until smooth. Press peach puree through a fine sieve into a bowl; discard solids.
Combine lime rind, lime juice, sugar, and mint in a large pitcher; crush juice mixture with the back of a long spoon. Add peach puree and rum to pitcher, stirring until sugar dissolves. Stir in club soda. Serve over crushed ice. Garnish with mint sprigs, if desired.
Crostini with Peaches and Blue Cheese
Yield: Makes 18
- 18 thin baguette slices
- Olive oil
- 1 1/2 cups peeled peaches , chopped
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 cup blue cheese, crumbled
- Freshly ground black pepper
Brush baguette slices with olive oil; place on a baking sheet. Broil until toasted and crisp. Cool completely. Toss peaches gently with vinegar. Top crostini with peaches and blue cheese. Sprinkle with pepper. Broil until cheese is hot, soft, and very lightly browned.
Grilled Peach-and-Mozzarella Salad
Makes 4 servings
- 5 Freestone peaches
- 3 green onions, sliced
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon lime zest
- 1/2 cup fresh lime juice
- 1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
- 1 (6-oz.) package baby arugula, thoroughly washed
- 3/4 pound fresh mozzarella 1/4-inch slices
Peel and chop 1 peach. Cut remaining 4 peaches into 1/4-inch-thick rings. (Cut peaches inward from sides, cutting each side just until you reach the pit. Lift the rings off the pits in one piece.)
To make dressing: Process chopped peach, green onions, and the next 6 ingredients in a food processor 10 to 15 seconds or until smooth. Add oil, and pulse 3 to 4 times or until thoroughly combined.
Heat grill and grease grates. Brush both sides of peach rings with the peach dressing.
Grill peach rings, covered with grill lid, 3 to 5 minutes on each side or until grill marks appear.
Mix arugula and basil and arrange evenly on 4 plates. Alternately layer grilled peach rings and cheese slices over greens on each plate. Drizzle with remaining peach dressing.
Entree Course: Grilled Chicken with Georgia Peach Barbecue Sauce
- 2 chickens (2 1/2 to 3 pounds each), quartered, with backs removed
- 1 recipe Georgia Peach Barbecue Sauce, recipe follows below
Marinate the chickens in 2/3 of the barbecue sauce for a few hours or overnight in the refrigerator.
Prepare your grill for direct heat and indirect heat.
Lay the chicken pieces skin side down on the hottest side of the grill in order to sear the skin side well. Grill for 5-10 minutes, depending on how hot the grill is (you do not want the chicken to burn). Once you have a good sear on one side, move the chicken pieces to the cooler side of the grill, or, if you are using a gas grill, lower the heat to medium low. Cover the grill and cook undisturbed for 20 minutes.
Turn the chicken pieces over and baste them lightly with the barbecue sauce. Cover the grill again and allow to cook for another 30 minutes. Repeat, turning the chicken pieces over, basting them with sauce, covering, and cooking for another 20 minutes.
You can check to see if the chicken is cooked with a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of each chicken piece. Look for 165° for breasts and 170° for thighs.
If the chicken isn’t done, turn the pieces over and continue to cook at a low temperature. If you prefer, you can finish with a sear on the hot side of the grill. To do this, put the pieces, skin side down, on the hot side of the grill. Allow them to sear and blacken slightly for a minute or two.
Serve with barbecue sauce on the side.
Georgia Peach Barbecue Sauce
Yields about 4 cups.
- 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon onion salt
- 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon ground mace
- 1/3 cup white vinegar
- 2 cups ketchup or 1 cup ketchup and 1 cup tomato puree
- 1 cup peach, purée, see recipe in this post
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons butter or Smart Balance Blend, cubed and well chilled
In a medium saucepan, combine all the ingredients except the butter. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. With a whisk, blend in the butter cubes, a couple at a time, until incorporated.
Dessert Course: Peach Upside-Down Cake
If you would like to make your own low-fat caramel sauce instead of using a store-bought product, I have included the recipe from Eating Well Magazine below.
Yield: 9 servings (serving size: 1 cake piece, 1/4 cup frozen yogurt, and 2 teaspoons caramel syrup)
- 3 cups thinly sliced peeled peaches (about 1 1/2 pounds), see how to peel peaches in this post
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- Cooking spray
- 2/3 cup sugar (or Domino Light or Truvia for Baking)
- 1/4 cup butter or Smart Balance Blend, softened
- 2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 large egg
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup buttermilk
- Vanilla fat-free frozen yogurt
- Fat-free caramel sundae syrup, warmed, recipe below
Preheat oven to 350° F.
Combine the first 5 ingredients in a bowl. Spoon into a 9-inch round cake pan coated with cooking spray.
Place 2/3 cup sugar and the next 4 ingredients (2/3 cup sugar through egg) in a large electric mixer bowl; beat at medium speed until well blended (for about 5 minutes).
Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, stirring well with a whisk.
Add the flour mixture to sugar mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture; mix after each addition.
Spoon batter over peach mixture in pan. Bake at 350° F for 45 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.
Cool for 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack. Place a plate upside down on top of cake, and invert onto plate. Serve warm with frozen yogurt and the caramel syrup.
Low Fat Caramel Sauce
From EatingWell: September/October 1991
This quick caramel sauce is made lighter with evaporated fat-free milk and uses molasses to give it rich flavor.
Makes 1 1/2 cups
- 1 cup regular sugar or 1/2 cup Domino Light or Truvia for Baking
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 3/4 cup nonfat evaporated milk
- 1 teaspoon molasses
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Combine sugar and water in a small, heavy-bottomed pan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. After the mixture comes to the boiling point cook, without stirring, until the syrup turns amber, about 15 minutes. (Take care not to burn it.) Remove from heat and cool for 2 minutes.
Using a wooden spoon, stir in butter. Gradually stir in milk. Return to the heat and cook, stirring, until the caramel has dissolved, about 1 minute. Stir in molasses and vanilla. Serve warm.
Make Ahead Tip: Cover and refrigerate for up to 5 days or freeze in small portions. Warm slightly before serving.
- Feelin’ peachy > Henri eats a peach, or 30. (newsreview.com)
- peach preserves (thissuburbanlife.typepad.com)
- Peach Bellinis to Crumble Bars: 15 Reasons to Buy a Pound of Peaches – Recipe Roundup (thekitchn.com)
- Ode To The Peach (roostblog.com)
- Peach Season and California Peaches (voodoodr06.wordpress.com)
- My Peach (workingsandbox.com)
- The Perfect 3-Ingredient Summer Salad (simplystated.realsimple.com)
- Peachy Keen…Hope You Enjoy! (prideinphotos.com)
- Recipe: Peach Tomato and Mozzarella Crostini (sweetnicks.com)