Monday, September 22, 2008

Crostini vs. Bruschetta: Round 1

Crostini means little toasts in Italian. Thin slices of bread are toasted, drizzled with olive oil, and served warm with savory toppings, such as chopped vegetables, mozzarella, anything, really. Sort of like large croutons, but croutons are fried.

Bruschetta is from the Italian word buscare, which means to burn, or roast over coals. The correct pronunciation of this word is BRU-SKETTA, and it is like crostini, though bruschetta is always rubbed w/ a slice of garlic while warm, and usually topped with a fresh tomato and basil mixture, served as an appetizer/antipasto.

I LOVE crostini. I serve it in a million different ways. For lunch, I make larger crostini slices & use heartier toppings. For appetizers, I usually serve 3 different smaller types of crostini. You can do anything and everything. It's easy and forces you to be creative with what you have on hand. In an emergency, you can put a swipe of olivada (olive paste) from a jar, top with some roasted peppers and an anchovy slice (very Italiano). Salty and satisfying.

My basic Crostini recipe:

Slice good Italian peasant bread into slices. Put all the slices in a mixing bowl and drizzle with olive oil and herbs de provence to coat. Put them on a cookie sheet and toast at 350 for about 12 minutes (keep an eye so they don't burn). I even use the toaster oven if I am only making a few slices.
The little toasts keep well in a zip loc for a day or so.

This week I grilled up a ton of veggies. Scallions, eggplant, zucchini, red peppers, red onion. Just sprinkle the veggies w/ kosher salt & olive oil before grilling. I topped crostini w/ oozing buffala mozzarella and the vegetables. Sprinkled with a little basil. Wonderful. Great first course.

Another great crostini idea is to spread some farmhouse chutney from Stonewall Kitchen on the toasts, then a swipe of fresh ricotta cheese (it is drier and better than the commercial stuff), a slice of prosciutto, basil and a slice of ripe, fresh fig. Drizzle some good balsamic and olive oil before serving, or you can leave them plain. Looks beautiful and tastes even better.

Last, but not least are my little pullman type crostini, sort of a British thing, not Italian at all, but everyone loves them.
I use an onion chutney and top with a slice of good, English farmhouse cheddar. This is so easy. Be creative and do your thing.

Round 1 goes to Crostini by a knockout!

PS. I watched the new PBS series Spain on the Road with Mario Batali, Mark Bittman and Gwyneth Paltrow this weekend. I was really looking forward to this series & set the DVR to tape it. It was so silly. It was just the 4 of these dopes riding around Spain in Mercedes' and giggling and eating. The dialogue was a big bore. I will not be watching the rest of the show. What a disappointment. Entourage is on Sunday nights, so I will look forward to that!


kat said...

Crostini's are just such a great easy snack of appetizer since you can really just use what on hand in the fridge, love it. Bummed to hear your review on Spain on the Road, it doesn't start here until next week & I have it set to tape.

Giff said...

totally with you -- crostinis are great. I usually don't like to mix sweet and savory, but this is one of the few occasions I enjoy it - have done fig and goat cheese and I love the fig and ricotta one you show. Then tapenade... white bean spread (you knew I would go there)... oh the list is endless!

I didn't actually know that Spain on the Road existed - shame about review since it sounds so promising on paper. Well... it's why you never hire someone from a resume!

lisa said...

The British crostini variation sounds delicious! Too bad about Spain on the Road. I looked for it, but it wasn't airing locally. I guess I'm not too upset to have missed it!

Lisa said...

Looks delicious! I went to the Italian market in Phila today and bought some fresh ricotta and serrano ham. Will be blogging about it this week.

SarahB said...

and by the way, the crostini look great!

We Are Never Full said...

oohhh delicious. thank you for the lesson - very important!

as for "Spain on the Road" - thank you for the heads up. I gotta be honest, when i heard gywennie was on this show i wanted to cry. why not just bittman and mario? WHAT DOES GWYNETH PALTROW HAVE TO DO W/SPAIN!!?!?!? i understand that spain is one of the most difficult countries to eat vegetarian in, but come ON! personally, i think she's boring and she prob. keeps mario and bittman (who are friends and sarcastic a-holes which i love) from being fun. that's just my opinon.

skip this show and just watch my crush Jose Andres "Made in Spain" - also on PBS - instead.

Anonymous said...

It is best to use a garlicboss for rubbing garlic on either a bruschetta or crostini

freefun0616 said...
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