Crostini (little crusts in Italian) are the easiest appetizers one can make. There are oodles and oodles of variations and limited only by one’s imagination. Creative ones such as smashed avocado topped with thinly sliced cucumber seasoned with chili flakes and a splash of extra-virgin olive oil or mashed fresh peas with sea salt, extra-virgin olive oil, and a squeeze of lemon juice. Consider white bean hummus slathered on a toasted slice that’s been perfumed with garlic – doesn’t that sound delish? Even the simplest of ingredients can make toasted bread slices shine; rub toasted slices of bread with a cut clove of garlic, drizzle with olive oil and top with grated Parmesan cheese. The heat from the bread will be just enough to slightly melt the cheese or pop under the broiler under golden brown.
When making crostini, choose fresh ingredients as you’ll need less but will pack a punch in the flavor department. I purchased the bread from our local baker, Jessica Best, who grinds her own flour. Jessica’s seeded sourdough worked perfectly for this crostini but you can choose your own favorite bread. Gorgonzola is the Italian blue cheese (soft and delicate) but other blue cheese substitutes such as Roquefort (French version) or Stilton (English version) work just as well. Grill or roast bell peppers to highlight the cheese or if that isn’t an option, purchase from a reputable deli but I highly recommend the former.
grilled bread slices (use oven, griddle pan, bbq or toaster)
2 red bell peppers
2 yellow or orange bell peppers
Gorgonzola cheese, room temperature
2 large cloves of garlic, peeled and cut in half
extra-virgin olive oil
Italian parsley, chopped
There are two methods to prepare the bell peppers. You can either grill on a barbecue or under the broiler in your oven. Either way, cook the peppers until the skin has blistered and charred all over. Place peppers in a large bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Allow to steam and cool for 10 minutes or cool enough to handle. Peel peppers, remove the cores and seeds and cut into thin strips.
Arrange hot grilled bread slices on a board and give it a quick rub with a peeled garlic clove. The amount you rub onto the bread is up to you. Spread cheese over the bread and top with roasted peppers. Carefully add a splash of balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Sprinkle with parsley and serve. Simple and fresh. Buon appetito!
The Culinary Chase’s Note: The heat from the bread helps to release the flavor from the garlic. When using the garlic, remember to do the edges as well. Enjoy!