I’m a huge fan of Crostini and Bruschetta, well anything tasty on toast to be honest. Little niblets of loveliness to gobble down between sups of vin blanc on balmy summer evenings (of which admittedly we’ve had precisely one so far this year!). And they don’t just have to be for grown ups, Jacques in particularly gets very excited about crostini, though Francesca’s a little more cautious, as ever. Whenever we have friends over I can’t resist a few toasty offerings and these are my favourite toppings of the moment.
Firstly a Wild Garlic and Cannellini Bean Crostini, a simple mix of cannellini beans, lemon zest and juice, a small bunch of wild garlic leaves and bulbs , a little green chili, olive oil and seasoning. Plus a sprinkling of parsley to finish. No cooking (bar the crostini toasts) just a simple assembly job. And it so happens to double as a deliciously morish dip, which I find requires considerable restraint to not polish off in a single session.
Secondly there’s my now-favourite topping of all time. Homemade Pesto, Lemony Griddled Courgettes and Feta Crostini. Admittedly this is a little more faffy, but so so worth the effort. And exceptionally crowd pleasing to all ages and tastes. And since all the elements (like the Cannellini Crostini) can be made in advance you don’t have to be faffing when your guests arrive.
I shall, of course, be entering this post to my brand new Four Seasons Food blogging challenge, co-hosted my myself and Anneli of Delicieux. This month Anneli’s hosting and the theme’s Summer Outdoor Nibbles and Picnics. And as the ingredients are all in season to Ren Behan’s Simple and in Season event. And last but most certainly not least to Lavender and Lovage’s lovely Herbs on Saturday challenge.
Wild Garlic & Cannellini Bean Crostini
Great for: Pre-dinner nibbles or appetisers, bigger kids, grown-ups, parties, starters, vegetarians, wild garlic foragers, dipping
Notes: Substitute the wild garlic for a crushed clove of cultivated garlic if you can’t forage or source
1 400g tin cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
zest of 1 lemon, plus a generous squeeze of juice
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 small bunch of wild garlic leaves, finely chopped or 1 clove of cultivated garlic, crushed
½ green chili, finely chopped, optional
salt and pepper
1 dessertspoon finely chopped parsley for the top
crostini toasts – see recipe here
1. Simply mix together the beans, lemon zest and juice, olive oil, garlic, chili (if using) and a generous pinch of salt and black pepper. If you’re making for little people avoid the chili (unless they like it) and salt.
2. Taste and add more lemon juice, salt or pepper to suit.
3. Serve spooned onto crostini with a little chopped parsley on top or as a dip with crudités or breadsticks.
Homemade Pesto, Lemony Griddled Courgettes and Feta Crostini:
Great for: Pre-dinner nibbles or appetisers, bigger kids (though Jacques at three adores these!), grown-ups, parties, starters, vegetarians, courgette growers, pesto fiends
Notes: This recipe makes enough for about 12 crostini, feel free to substitute the homemade pesto with shop bought, but homemade is a cinch to make and truly sublime on this recipe, particularly parsley pesto (made with any sort of nut)
Special Equipment: A griddle pan or heavy based frying pan
1 large or 2 small courgettes, washed
2 tablespoons good quality extra virgin olive oil
½ lemon, juiced
salt and pepper
12 crostini toasts - see recipe here
100g of feta cheese, crumbled
1. Slice across the courgettes into diagonal 2mm thick strips
2. Heat a griddle pan or heavy frying pan until very hot
3. Mix together the olive oil, lemon juice and a generous pinch of salt and pepper in a bowl. Set aside.
4. Fill the hot pan with a single layer of courgette slices and cook for a minute or two on each side until char-grilled. Remove the slices from the pan and place in the bowl with the oil and lemon mix.
5. Continue with more courgette slices until they’re all fully cooked and charred. Stir them all around in the bowl with the olive oil and lemon, cover and set aside to marinate until you’re ready to assemble the crostini.
6. When you’re ready for crostini assembly take each crostini and spread on a generous layer of pesto. Top with a small pile of the courgettes and finish with a crumbling of feta.
7. Serve. Eat. Divine with vin blanc.