If you've ever wandered into an Italian restaurant and ordered something accompanied by a small slice of crisp, crunchy bread, then you probably have had a crostini, a lightly toasted or fried bread that is typically slathered with olive oil for flavor. It can be likened to a crouton and is often served with soups, salads and other dishes. Crostinis also often served alone and topped with a variety of fresh produce, tangy cheeses, savory tomatoes, fresh basil and even flavorful meats.
Not to be confused with its counterpart, bruschetta, which is usually thicker and made from baguette bread consisting of flour, water and yeast, grilled with olive oil and rubbed with garlic, the crostini has a much firmer quality, ideal for adding texture to salads and other types of food for extra crunch. Though you may be wondering what makes this decadent fare so appealing, it all lies in its buttery goodness and mouthwatering flavor options. The crostini is much more elegant and smaller, making it a go-to fare for serving at parties and other events where finger food is an option. Crostini is Italian for "little toasts", so you can also enjoy these pint-sized gems as part of a daily meal for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Bruschetta bread, on the other hand, is Italian for "to roast over coals" and isn't as crunchy or as small as the crostini but it is just as scrumptious. Bruschetta bread is often served warm, with bubbling cheeses, roasted vegetables and grilled meats on top of a baguette slice, making it the ideal options for a hungrier palate. Similar to an open-face sandwich, bruschetta is soft and chewy, usually the food of choice for simple meals, but recently has recently transformed into more complicated and innovated fair, topped with layers of concoctions fit for a feast.
The type of bread that you use greatly depends on the flavor. However, the fresher the better because that's where you'll get the most taste. Ciabatta or baguette bread are both ideal making crostini not only because of their petite diameter, but they are both perfect for sopping up the leftover sauce on one's plate. You know it will hold up when it comes to toppings.
Ciabatta bread is made of wheat, of wheat, olive oil and yeast, predominantly and is commonly used in panini preparations. Baguettes, on the other hand, are made from flour, water, salt, and yeast. As a result, it tends to be a little softer than ciabatta, but both are great options for making crostini.
Crostini is so simple to make that anyone can prepare it and once you've learned how to make it, you'll definitely want to add it as one of your dining staples. All you'll need is about 10 minutes of prep time, 30 minutes to cook. You may even choose to freeze leftovers for later use.
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Slice bread about ¼ inch thick (Should yield approximately 60 slices)
3. Brush both sides of bread with olive oil.
4. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
5. Place in oven and bake until golden brown, for about 12 to 15 minutes. Serve warm and enjoy!
Once you've learned how to create basic crostini, you can become a little more creative with it. Add some rosemary, garlic, parmesan cheese or even some Herbs de Provence for an unexpected taste. Salted butter is also another delicious option to use in place of olive oil and lends a robust flavor to the food.
There's no limit to crostini toppings since it's a basic base that can go with literally anything, from a slice of fruit to cheese, meat or even jam! However, keep in mind that you may go a little overboard and become somewhat addicted.
Tomato tapenade is a pureed or finely chopped food that consists of olive oil and is one of the most popular toppings used in crostini preparations. Tomato tapenade paste will surely please everyone's taste buds since it has the perfect mix of savory and sweet. To create a basic tomato blend is quite simple and once you've got it down, you can add other meats and cheeses if you'd prefer.
1. Combine boiling water and sun-dried tomatoes and allow to stand for 15 minutes, or until softened.
2. Drain tomatoes over a bowl, reserving ¾ of liquid.
3. In a food processor, blend the reserved liquid, tomatoes, olives, basil, lemon juice and garlic until smooth.
4. Place mixture in a bowl and blend with olive oil
5. Place mixture on prepared bread crostini slices and enjoy!
Crostini is a wonderful way to enjoy some of your favorite foods with a twist. Whether you prefer light, crisp foods or something more hearty, crostinis are quite the crowd pleaser.