Crostini is Italian for “little toasts” and it’s exactly what that sounds like (crostino is the singular of the word). Thin slices of a baguette or other narrow loaf, lightly oiled and then oven-toasted until crisp. Think of a fancy Melba toast. Crostini can be topped with any combination of delectable treats you can think of. They are a great way to try out new flavor combinations that have been floating around in your brain — anise and figs; peanuts and pork; blackberry and curry (™ on all those combos, BTW!) — before you try it out on a real actual full-on meal. Crostini are different from bruschetta in that bruschetta are larger and grilled. Bruschetta comes from bruscare, meaning “to roast over coals” which tells you the biggest difference between crostini and bruschetta. Both are served as appetizers, but to me, the smaller size and convenience of oven-toasting, make crostini the clear winner in the snack and appetizers category.
To make crostini ahead of time, prepare the toasts and cool completely to room temperature. Store in airtight containers up to two days. If the air is very humid you may need to re-crisp the crostini in the oven for a few minutes. Wait until you are ready to serve them to add the toppings. Toppings like tomato salad or cucumber slices will soften the toasts almost immediately. Using a spread on the bottom that has some fat in it (ie cheese, mayo, olive oil, avocado) will keep the crostini from going soggy so quickly and these types of crostini will be fine if eaten within 30 minutes or so of assembly, so they are perfect for passing around at cocktail parties. Allow 4 crostini per person if other appetizers will be served at a party or if the crostini will be served as a first course before a meal. Allow 8-10 per person if crostini will be the only cocktail food served.
The video below shows you the basic steps of cutting and oiling the bread, toasting it, and then offers three ways to top crostini: a sweet crostini of fruit and cheese; a hot crostini of ham and cheese (this is a very American preparation); and an avocado crostini for those on a non-dairy or vegan diet. Other crostini topping ideas are listed at the bottom of this page. Enjoy!
How-to Crostini Video
Three Crostini Recipes
- 1 long baguette
- olive oil spray
- salt and pepper
- Sweet Crostini Topping:
- 4 ounces soft goat cheese (or cream cheese if you don't like goat cheese)
- ½ teaspoon anise seed
- 1 teaspoon honey
- ¼ cup orange marmalade
- 2 tablespoons sliced almonds
- Hot Crostini Topping:
- ½ cup grated Swiss cheese (Jarlsberg is excellent)
- 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
- 1 teaspoon yellow mustard
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh herbs (sage, thyme, parsley, rosemary)
- ¼ cup diced ham
- black pepper
- radish slices
- Vegan Crostini Topping:
- 1 avocado
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon minced chives or green onion or shallot
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
- ¼ cup kalamata olives, sliced
- sprouts or radish slices
- Set oven to 425ºF. Cut the baguette into slices on a diagonal about ½-1/3 inch thick. You should get 20-24 slices.
- Arrange on a baking sheet in a single layer.
- Spray or brush lightly with oil. Sprinkle lightly with salt. Sprinkle ⅔ of them with black pepper for the savory crostini.
- Bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown around the edges and dried out. Set aside. Leave the oven on for the hot crostini.
- For the sweet fruit crostini: Combine cheese with anise and honey. Spread toasted bread with a tablespoon or so of cheese and top with a teaspoon of marmalade and a couple almond slices. (Flavored cheese may be made a day ahead and refrigerated.)
- For hot ham crostini: Mix the cheese, mayo, mustard, herbs and ham together. Spread crostini thickly with this mixture and place on a baking sheet. Bake about 10 minutes until melted and bubbling (or broil on low for 2-3 minutes) and top with radish slices or green onions. (Cheese/ham mix may be made a day ahead of time and refrigerated.)
- For vegan crostini: Mash avocado with lemon juice, herbs, salt and pepper. Spread a tablespoon onto a rostini and top with 2-3 slices of olive and a few sprouts.
- Serve crostini within 30 minutes of assembly. Toasts may be made 48 hours ahead of time, cooled completely, then stored airtight until ready to assemble.
Other ideas for crostini toppings:
Blue cheese, fig preserves, toasted walnuts
Cream cheese, strawberry slices, lime zest
Kale pesto, cherry tomato slices, grated Parmesan
Hummus, super thin slice of lemon, cilantro leaves, coarse salt
Mushroom duxelles (nothing else needed because duxelles is delicious!)