Creamy Ricotta and Bell Pepper Crostini

Creamy Ricotta and Bell Pepper Crostini Recipe

What do you do with stale bread? Make crostini. It's one of my favorite ways of turning a day-old baguette into an elegant appetizer. I love them and could eat a ton!

Typically, crostini is grilled (or toasted) bread that is covered with a flavorful topping. I made mine with a red bell pepper purée and paired it with left-over goat ricotta cheese. The cheese brings some creaminess to the topping and I love the subtle taste of the chèvre (goat in French). I flavored the crostini with some fresh mint and Meyer lemon from the garden.

Ingredients

Yields: 8

1 1-day-old baguette, cut into 1/2-inch slices
1/3 cup olive oil
3 sprigs fresh thyme, plus extra for garnish
1 Meyer lemon
1 red bell pepper
1/2 eggplant, (or small eggplant)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 clove pickled garlic
1 tablespoon parmesan cheese, freshly grated
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
3/4 cup goat ricotta cheese
2 tablespoons fresh mint, finely chopped, plus extra for garnish
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns, freshly ground


Directions

For the caramelized onions: Heat the olive oil in a small saucepan. Cook the onions until nicely golden (may take 5-10 minutes). Drain and reserve the oil. Set both onions and oil aside.

For the Meyer lemon: Zest the lemon and juice it. Reserve about 1 teaspoon of lemon zest for garnish.

For the grilled baguette: Lightly drizzle the baguette slices with the onion-infused oil. Place the pieces on the griddle. I use the same method when grilling veggies. Place 3 sprigs of thyme onto a hot grill pan to let it release its nice aroma while grilling the bread. Cook until you get grill marks (about 2-3 minutes on each side) over medium heat. Remove from the pan. As soon as the bread is grilled and golden, drizzle with half the amount of lemon juice and season with 1/4 teaspoon of salt and a pinch of pepper. Set aside. Discard the thyme.

For the roasted eggplant: Trim the eggplant and slice it lengthwise. Layer a cooling rack on top of a cookie sheet (to collect all the excess moisture). Place the eggplant slices on the rack. Sprinkle with kosher salt and let sit for about 20 minutes. Pat dry using a paper towel. Brush the hot grill pan with a little olive oil. Drizzle oil on the eggplant slices as well. Place the slices on the grill. Cook until you get grill marks (about 3-4 minutes on each side) on medium heat. Remove from the pan. Cut the grilled eggplants into small chunks. Set aside.

For the roasted red bell pepper: Wash the bell pepper, pat dry, then brush with a little olive oil. Place a grill on your stove and char all the skin of the bell pepper. Wrap in aluminum foil. Let cool for about 10 minutes. Wash the bell pepper under running water and the skin will come right off. Seed it, slice it and set aside until needed.

For the creamy ricotta and red bell pepper pesto: In a mini-food processor, combine the onions, pickled garlic, eggplant, the red bell pepper, remaining lemon juice and remaining olive oil. Pulse until smooth. Transfer to a bowl. Add the goat ricotta cheese, lemon zest, chopped mint and parmesan. Stir well. Season with salt and pepper.

Assembly time: Spread about 2 teaspoons of the creamy vegetable pesto onto each baguette slice. Garnish with some fresh mint, lemon zest and grated parmesan.

Serve at room temperature.

Bon appétit!


Tips

When throwing a fancy party with little hors d'oeuvres, always remember that all the appetizers should require no more than 2-3 bites, maximum. You want your guests to enjoy the party and mingle, which means they can't be spending all their time chewing.

I like to use crostini as a base for vegetable spreads. Slightly toasting the bread prevents the appetizer from getting soggy even when a moist topping is added.

If you have a big gathering, grill the crostini in advance. Store them in a zip-top bag and spread the topping about 30 minutes before you're ready to serve.

I used pickled garlic so that it does not overpower the crostini. If you don't mind the not-so-mild flavor, use fresh garlic.

To use a left-over baguette, if you don't want to go through the whole process of making crostini, you can always make garlic parmesan bread and pair it with soup. You can also make bread crumbs for a nice crunch for mac & cheese or croûtons for soups and salads.

Baguettes are best on the day they're made. It's best to store baguettes in a linen / cotton or paper bag. Do not store in a plastic bag, they'll lose all their crunch. Also, do not store next to a heating source because the bread will get hard.

Bruschetta Crostini Recipe

Published By: Jacqueline Pham on August 23, 2009.


Comments

Discussion:
[-] Foodie with Little Thyme! - Guest-cassie
Your pesto looks great. I love that you added the cheese into it instead of on it.

cassie Website Link
[ Posted at 8:20 AM on 8/23/09 | Reply ]
Ye Creamy Ricotta and Bell Pepper Crostini sound addictive!! a must make! thanx for the helpful tips!
cheers!!

nora@ffr Website Link
[ Posted at 10:31 AM on 8/23/09 | Reply ]
This recipe is right up my alley, it looks delicious!

Kerstin Website Link
[ Posted at 12:20 PM on 8/23/09 | Reply ]
How innovative...ricotta used in that way. I love ricotta and mostly use it in red pasta sauces or actually...mainly in desserts. Wonderful.

Trish Website Link
[ Posted at 1:55 PM on 8/23/09 | Reply ]
Wow, you've done it again. This looks excellent.

Irina@PastryPal Website Link
[ Posted at 5:05 PM on 8/23/09 | Reply ]
[-] I love crostini! - Guest-JessicaFoodmayhem
Crostini has become so popular at wine bars in NYC and I love it.

Jessica@Foodmayhem Website Link
[ Posted at 8:04 PM on 8/23/09 | Reply ]
[-] Yum! - Guest-Miakoda
I adore the versatile crostini. The crunch of the bread, the delicious spread...ouch that rhymed. Sorry! :D But really, this is so beautiful. I can imagine the flavors and its making me want it :)

Miakoda Website Link
[ Posted at 9:30 PM on 8/23/09 | Reply ]
[-] the rhyme - Jackie
Loved the rhyme :D
[ Posted at 9:34 PM on 8/23/09 | Reply ]
[-] Lovely! - Guest-Parita
Oh Wow these look delectable!

Parita Website Link
[ Posted at 9:15 AM on 8/24/09 | Reply ]
[-] Crazy Asian Gal - Guest-Palidor
Girl, you are after my heart! WOW!! I'm a ricotta-holic and I can imagine that it pairs perfectly with red bell peppers. Thank you soooo much for this lovely idea!

Palidor Website Link
[ Posted at 7:02 PM on 8/24/09 | Reply ]
Love this recipe! The blend of flavors is incredible and I so want to eat some! Another must try recipe!

Jamie Website Link
[ Posted at 3:12 AM on 8/26/09 | Reply ]
[-] cheffresco - Guest-cheffresco
I love making crostini. Your topping is perfect!

cheffresco Website Link
[ Posted at 9:36 PM on 8/26/09 | Reply ]
[-] Love the tips - Guest-AmandaFormaro
This looks wonderful. I love how you include tips at the end of each of your posts :)

Amanda Formaro Website Link
[ Posted at 6:43 AM on 8/27/09 | Reply ]

Order my latest book:
Banh Mi

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