For lunch today I made three different crostini - classic tomato, red onion and basil, pepper and pastrami, and zucchini and mozzarella. Now, I don’t want to overdo the old crostini on Jennie Eats Italy, but let’s face it - you can’t really beat a fried piece of bread piled high with Italian scrumptiousness.
If you’ve got people coming round, crostini is an easy way to feed everyone and it’s the perfect ‘standing starter’ - which I quite like doing.
The beauty of crostini is that it can be as humble or elaborate as you want. I like to experiment with different toppings to see what works. A lot of people like the tangy freshness of cherry tomatoes, onion, olive oil and basil, but my pepper and pastrami crostini are also a favourite of a few friends and my meat loving boyfriend.
If you want to have a go at making your own it’s incredibly easy. All you need is a big french stick (sourdough also works really well) and your toppings and lots of olive oil.
Here’s what I used:
Three large beef tomatoes
One red onion
Six slices of pastrami
One yellow pepper
Three mini mozzarella balls
Two cloves of garlic
Tomato & red pepper crostini
All you have to do with this one is finely chop up your tomatoes and onion and put in a bowl with oodles of olive oil, torn up basil and some salt and pepper. Pop it in the fridge to let the flavours mix. It’s one of my favourite food combinations. Yum Yum Yum.
Pepper & pastrami crostini
I challenge anyone to find a better smell than that of a pepper grilling in the oven. Oh my actual word. Just pop your grill on high, wash your pepper and chuck it in the oven. The beauty of this is you don’t have to panic when the skin goes black because that’s what you want. As soon as you see black, turn it round - until it’s all quite black and smelling of heaven. Then take it out (switch the grill OFF) and pop it in a bowl with glad wrap (cling film) over the top. In the meantime, finely slice your pastrami. When I do this I seem to eat more than I save. After about five minutes take your pepper out of the bowl and start to disassemble it. You can pull the stalk out easily, and try to get rid of the seeds without it falling back into the bowl with all of those lovely pepper juices. The oily liquid that comes out of grilled peppers is full of flavour so save it. Peel the skin off your pepper and chop it finely. Put it back in the juice with the pastrami and mix with some torn basil.
Zucchini & mozzarella crostini
This is a lighter topping which is quite nice to have against the other flavours on the platter. Take a good quality peeler and start peeling your zucchini into ribbons. Finely chop your garlic and chilli (removing the seeds) and pop into a hot oiled pan. Once softened add the zucchini, stir and take off the eat straight away. Leave to cool and then add thin strips of fresh mozzarella.
And then of course all you need is your bread. All you have to do is cut it into 2cm slices. Heat up a none stick frying pan with oil and cover the surface with bread slices. Wait until toasted and turn. Repeat with your next batch until you’re done.
I invite you to try your own crostini over the weekend - look how happy they make me!