In some ways, Italy’s Crostini is similar to Denmark’s Smørrebrød in that they are both open sandwiches. Though smørrebrød tends to be eaten as lunch, crostini tend to be appetizers or antipasti. Crostini are small pieces of toasted bread, usually Italian or French, topped with a variety of meats, cheeses, vegetables or even just herbs or olive oil. The word ‘crostini’ is literally Italian for ‘little toasts’ and probably the most well known crostini is bruschetta, where toasted bread is rubbed with garlic and olive oil, sometimes topped with tomato and basil.
Though crostini was originally thought to be peasant food from the middle ages, where the peasants didn’t possess plates, but instead used slices of bread, today it can usually be found in Italian restaurants with a variety of expensive ingredients as toppings. There really aren’t any rules or set varieties of crostini, as long as you have some bread, there are probably enough ingredients in your store cupboard and refrigerator to be able to throuw some crostini together at the last minute if friends pop round for a glass of wine.
Ingredients that you might have to hand in you kitchen for making crostini could include, garlic, basil leaves, extra virgin olive oil, mozzarella, anchovies, olives, pate, artichokes, tomatoes, salami, etc. How you combine these together depends on your taste and willingness to experiment. Below are just a few ideas, I threw together for some friends on Saturday night while drinking some wine.
Fresh Mozzarella, arugala and basil dressing crostini
Place some slices of fresh mozzarella onto toasted bread and melt under the broiler (grill). Place on some arugala (rocket), basil dressing and serve.
Bruschetta with tomatoes and basil
Rub some raw garlic onto toasted bread. Mix together some chopped tomatoes, basil leaves, garlic, extra virgin, olive oil, salt and pepper together and pile on top of the toasts.
Crushed olives and anchovy crostini
Crush some green olives lightly with a fork. Spread them on to the toasts. Top with a couple of anchovy fillets and drizzle with olive oil.
Fresh Mozzarella, tomato and basil crostini
Place some slices tomatoes and basil leaves onto toasted bread. Top with fresh mozzarella and melt under the broiler (grill). Drizzle on some extra virgin olive oil, salt and serve.
Mashed Beans with Mint and Pecorino
Take some cooked and shelled fava, lima or broad beans (fresh or frozen). Crushed them lightly with some olive oil, lemon juice, grated Pecorino cheese, fresh mint, crushed garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper. Pile high onto toasted bread. Alternatively you could use frozen peas, mint and parmesan cheese.
Take some Kale or cavolo nero if you can find it. Remove the stalks and cook them for about 10 minutes in some vegetable stock. Pile the kale onto toasted bread, drizzle with olive oil and season to taste.
Chicken Live Pate
Crushed garlic, salt and olive oil
This one could be thought of as posh garlic bread. Crush some garlic cloves with salt using a knife or mortar and pestle. Spread the garlic paste on to the toast, drizzle with olive oil or a flavoured oil such as truffle.
Crushed anchovy crostini
Simply lightly crush some anchovy fillets on a piece of toasted bread. Drizzle with olive oil and serve.
Mushrooms and Garlic Crostini
Gently sauté some mushrooms and garlic in some butter and olive oil. Add some chopped parsley and season. Pile high on top of toasted bread.
Caponata alla Siciliana Crostini
Pile some caponata onto a piece of toasted bread, drizzle with olive oil and then serve.