They sound simple. Crostini, that is. Slices of bread that have been brushed with olive oil and toasted, then topped with something that need be no more complex than a sprinkle of salt and a generous rub with a fresh garlic clove. Of course, something more complex is nice, too. I’m talking to you, tomato and Parmesan and anchovy.
Let’s start with the bread. Baguettes are the way to go. If your baguette is thin, it’s best to slice it on a slight diagonal. This gives you more surface area to play with. And mess around with the time that you toast those slices. If you like your crostini crisp, toast them a bit longer. Want them with a bit of chewy give in the middle? Ease off the toasting time. The toasts also are lovely grilled over live fire when the weather allows.
Next up, the toppings. My crostini feature a base of herby honey butter, barely ripe pears, a bit of tangy goat cheese and a few nuggets of crispy bacon. You can use whatever pears you like. There are lots of varieties to choose from (Bosc, Barlett and Anjou, to name a few). And using a couple of different kinds of pears makes for a very attractive platter.
While these are very simple to make, they give off more than a slight air of elegance. Passing them to start off an awards party while someone pours some sparkling wine won’t actually transport you to the red carpet, but wouldn’t you rather be home eating crostini and sipping bubbly anyway? Yeah, me, too.
GOAT CHEESE AND PEAR CROSTINI
Start to finish: 30 minutes
Makes about 30 crostini
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature (very soft)
1/4 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme (or 1/3 teaspoon dried)
1 long baguette, sliced into 1/3- to 1/2-inch-thick slices (about 30)
2 ripe pears, quartered, cored and thinly sliced lengthwise
1/2 cup crumbled fresh goat cheese
4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
Heat the oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with kitchen parchment or foil.
In a small bowl, mix together the butter, honey, salt and thyme. Spread a bit of the butter mixture over each slice of baguette, then arrange them on the prepared baking sheet. It’s fine if they touch, but they should not overlap. Use 2 baking sheets if needed. Bake for 5 to 8 minutes, or until the edges of the bread are lightly browned. Remember that they will harden as they cool, so take them out before they get too crisp.
Top each toast with 1 or 2 slices of pear, then a bit of goat cheese and a sprinkle of crumbled bacon. Serve hot or room temperature.
Nutrition information per crostini: 100 calories; 25 calories from fat (25 per cent of total calories); 3 g fat (2 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 10 mg cholesterol; 190 mg sodium; 16 g carbohydrate; 1 g fiber; 4 g sugar; 3 g protein.