Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Little Toast

Crostini, which means “little toast” in Italian, are one of my favorite appetizers to make. And eating them isn’t so bad either. Since the possibilities are endless when it comes to toppings, crostini usually end up at the top of my list when it comes to menu planning. This particular day though, I had no menu to plan or company coming…I just wanted to enjoy the fleeting sun on the patio with a glass of wine and eat crostini while doing it. 

Last week I bought ricotta cheese for another dish. My hope was pumpkin ravioli topped with brown butter and hazelnuts, using the ricotta in the filling. Suffice it to say, that dish will not be making an appearance here…not so good would be an understatement. So I ended up with an almost full tub of ricotta, which isn’t one of my favorite cheeses because of its texture. 

Figuring I could come up with something to use it for, it sat in the fridge. When I had a hankering for crostini, it seemed like the right time to pull it out to use as a topping, provided I could change its texture to my liking. Here’s what I came up with: 

Mushroom Crostini 

For crostini: 

1 baguette, sliced (about 10 slices)
olive oil
salt and pepper
1 clove of garlic, peeled 

Drizzle olive oil onto baguette slices and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toast in a preheated 350 oven until slightly crispy. As soon as you take them out of the oven, rub the garlic clove over the top of each crostini. 

For cheese spread: 

1/3 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
1/4 cup mascarpone cheese
1 tablespoon olive oil (use the good stuff here)
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest 
1/8 teaspoon salt
pinch of pepper 

Put all ingredients into a mini food processor and run until mixture is combined and slightly whipped. 

For mushrooms: 

8 - 10 cremini mushrooms, sliced 
1 - 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large clove of garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest 

Heat olive oil in a large pan over med-hi heat, add sliced mushrooms and stir to coat. (If the pan looks dry, add another drizzle of olive oil). Let the mushrooms sauté for a few minutes without stirring. Once the juices start to come out of the mushrooms, give them a stir and let sauté on the other side, another several minutes. When the mushrooms are almost done, add the garlic, red pepper flakes, thyme and season with salt and pepper. Continue stirring for another minute or two while the garlic gets a little color (but don’t let it burn!). Remove from heat and stir in the lemon zest. 

(The amounts shown above make about 10 crostini, but there will be leftover cheese. Increase the mushrooms and bread for a larger serving. The cheese will keep in the fridge for several days. If making cheese spread ahead, let come to room temperature before serving.) 

I served this in separate bowls to assemble yourself, but you can also assemble ahead by spreading each crostini with the cheese and then topping with mushrooms. 

Because the ricotta is combined with the mascarpone and olive oil, then whipped, the texture is fantastic; creamy and light. With the crispy bread, zip of lemon, and a little kick from the red pepper flakes, this is one appetizer I will keep coming back to…especially when served on the patio with a glass of wine.


  1. Yum, love this! I really like crostinis too, so many possibilities. This one looks delicious!

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  2. The photo of the mushrooms makes my mouth water. YUMMM

  3. Karen made this for me and it is YUMMY.

  4. This looks like a perfect snack! Cheesy and crunchy. Yum:)

  5. Looks simply delicious! I, too, LOVE making crostini. Thanks for sharing!

  6. I like your blog!

    This looks so delicious!

    Have a nice time!

  7. What a lovely little crostini - did you enjoy your hour or so of wine and crostini bliss?

  8. Thanks for the comments everyone!

    @JSTK - Yes...very much!

  9. Karen, I love your little crostini bites! I wish my family would eat mushrooms so I could make them and not have to eat the whole lot...on second thought, eating the whole lot isn't a bad idea!

  10. These are gorgeous crostini with a lovely blend of flavors...and gorgeous photos :)

  11. These are so good! Just had my first bite, and had to comment. Definitely will serve these to guests.YUM, must get back to them. Simple and delicious. We love them.

  12. I can so picture these with a lovely glass of red wine.

  13. You had me at ricotta and mushrooms, looks great!

  14. This looks so yummy! I love the combination of the mascarpone and mushrooms.