The Life of the (Crostini) Party!

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The long Labor Day weekend is FINALLY here! I knew I wanted to make a tasty treat to kick back, relax and celebrate. Instead of planning a specific meal, I decided to go to the Saturday Market on the River (the local Augusta farmers market) and make something based on the fresh, available produce.

I had a rehearsal for a play I'm doing shortly after, so my first priority was picking items that could go without refrigeration for a while. I could have bought so much delicious goodness, but I settled on local heirloom tomatoes, assorted bell and spicy peppers, zucchini, yellow squash, eggplant and rainbow carrots (I know, a lot of stuff)! Going home from rehearsal, I decided I wanted something "snacky" that is best enjoyed with a beer/something refreshing. I decided to make assorted party crostini (or as Chrissy Teigen calls them in my favorite cookbook, "shit on toast"). The final three were a fresh tomato bruschetta, jalapeño pimento cheese with bacon and a tart cherry goat cheese with prosciutto.

My farmers market finds

My farmers market finds

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The Base
1 artisanal baguette
Drizzle of olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice the bread into 1/4 in. thick slices. Generously drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Arrange the slices on a baking sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes, or until they are nice and lightly golden. Once finished, top with the recipes below or any of your liking!

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Pimento Cheese and Bacon
8 oz shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 red bell pepper
1 yellow bell pepper
1 jalapeno (finely chopped)
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup mayonnaise
4 thick slices of bacon
salt/pepper (to taste)
Olive oil


Begin by preheating the oven to 350 degrees. Slice the bell peppers and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Arrange on a baking sheet and cook for 20-25 minutes. Arrange the bacon on a baking sheet and cook for 20 minutes, or until crispy. While the peppers and bacon cook, combine the cheddar cheese, jalapeño, sour cream and mayonnaise. Mix well. Once the peppers are complete, finely chop those and add to the cheddar cheese mixture. Top the crostini with the pimento cheese, garnish with crispy bacon and finely chopped jalapeño (if you want more heat). Enjoy!

Tomato Bruschetta
5 small/medium heirloom tomatoes
2 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1 tablespoon fresh parsley or basil
Olive oil
Salt/pepper to taste

This one is SO easy and a favorite of mine. This is a classic combination I learned years ago from my Zia Kathy (one of the best cooks ever). Begin by chopping the tomatoes. If some are too juicy, remove the seeds. Finely chop the garlic and parsley, then add to the chopped tomatoes. Season with a drizzle of olive oil, salt, pepper and oregano. Mix it well and top the crispy crostini with the mixture!

Tart Cherry, Goat Cheese and Prosciutto
4-5 tablespoons goat cheese
1 tablespoon cream cheese
4 tablespoons tart cherry preserves (you can certainly use any flavor you like or even fresh figs)
5 slices prosciutto
Coarse black pepper to taste (optional)

Begin by mixing the goat cheese and cream cheese. The cream cheese creates a softer texture to spread on the crostini. Top the crostini with the cheese mixture and spread a small amount of the tart cherry spread on each crostini. I like prosciutto A LOT, so mine had a generous portion of this delicious cured meat. Place the thinly sliced prosciutto on each crostini. Top with a small amount of coarse black pepper, then ENJOY!!

The best part about these recipes is you can enjoy them at home or take to a party/gathering. It's great to use fresh, in season produce to give the crostini a super fresh flavor. I personally love to pair these with a glass of my favorite wine or beer for the perfect combo. I hope you enjoy the holiday weekend. Bon appétit!

Elizabeth CanasComment