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One Appetizer Three Ways

Once a month on a Friday night, I like to gather friends together for a casual meal.  It’s officially known as “Friday Nights at Lisa’s.”  A time for everyone to unwind, relax and catch up.  No one brings anything.  They just show up, eat and enjoy themselves.

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Spring is one of my favorite seasons for fruits and vegetables.  I love serving appetizers inspired by seasonal ingredients.  Crostini appetizers are easy to prepare and a great way to use delicious Springtime ingredients.  Three of my go-to recipes are Strawberry Ricotta Crostini, Orange Rosemary and Goat Cheese Crostini and Pea Prosciutto and Mint Crostini.

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Start by preparing the crunchy goodness first.  The crostini toasts.  They can be made one day ahead.  Keep them at room temperature in an airtight container.

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Crostini
1 baguette, sliced diagonally ¼” thick
½ cup olive oil
Coarse salt and ground pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Brush the bread slices on both sides with olive oil and season lightly with salt and pepper.

Arrange on a baking sheet. Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Turn the sheet around once halfway through.

Serve warm or room temperature.  Serves 6.

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Strawberry Ricotta Crostini
The strawberries and honey tame the balsamic vinegar. The ricotta cheese and mint bring it all together.

¾ Tbs balsamic vinegar
¼ tsp honey
¾ Tbs extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 cups strawberries, hulled and quartered
½ cup part skim ricotta cheese
1 Tbs mint, chopped

In a small bowl, combine the balsamic vinegar and honey.  Slowly add the oil, whisking constantly.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Add strawberries and let sit for 10 minutes refrigerated.

To assemble, spread a small amount of ricotta cheese on the crostini toast.  Add a spoonful of the strawberry mixture and garnish with chopped mint.  Serves 6.

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Orange Rosemary and Goat Cheese Crostini
A little sweet, a little savory with a lot of crunch.  It’s almost like having a little dessert before dinner.

4 oz goat cheese, softened
1 tsp rosemary, finely chopped
Honey, to drizzle
¼ cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
1 Tsp orange zest

In a small bowl, combine the softened goat cheese and rosemary.

To assemble, spread a small amount of the goat cheese and rosemary mixture onto crostini toasts. Drizzle with a little honey. Top with a few chopped walnuts, then garnish with orange zest.  Serves 6.

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Pea Prosciutto and Mint Crostini
I’m a salty, crunchy person, so this appetizer makes me happy.  The peas and mint balance the salty prosciutto.  The lemon zest brightens everything up.  This recipe is very versatile.  You can leave out the prosciutto for guests who don’t eat meat.  For people with a gluten intolerance, take away the crostini and prosciutto and use the pea mint mixture as a dip.  Just add an assortment of fresh, crunchy vegetables.

2 Cups of frozen peas
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
2 ½ Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbs fresh mint, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 Tbs finely grated lemon zest
Kosher salt and ground pepper to taste
¼ pound thinly sliced prosciutto

In a medium saucepan bring salted water to a boil.  Add peas and cook until tender.  Drain, transfer to a medium bowl and let cool.  Gently mash peas with a fork and set aside.  In a small bowl, combine lemon juice, olive oil, mint, garlic and lemon zest.  Add the mixture to the mashed peas.  Season with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.  Set aside.

Slice thin strips of prosciutto and form into little rolls.

To assemble, spread each toast with the pea and mint mixture then top with a piece of rolled prosciutto.  Serves 6.

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These crostini appetizers are easy to make and don’t take a lot of time to prepare.  Invite a few friends over and serve these tasty bites before dinner.  They’re perfect with your favorite wine or a little Prosecco.

Enjoy!

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