Crostini (little toasts) are always popular nibbles for an antipasto. But simple as these are to put together, the results depend entirely on good, dense bread, the kind in which the crust almost cuts the roof of your mouth. I use that analogy because soggy, spongy bread will simply not work for crostini, since the bread is toasted and then rubbed with a garlic clove. The bread must be sturdy enough to act as a grater when the garlic is rubbed over it. Ciabatta bread, a flat bread, is sturdy and readily available. It holds a spread of seasoned creamy ricotta cheese sprinkled with zippy and sassy sopressata, a dried pork salami.
8 slices of ciabatta bread, 1/2-inch thick
Olive oil spray
1 large garlic clove, peeled
1 cup fresh ricotta cheese
1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
2 tablespoons fresh basil, minced
Kosher salt to taste
Pepper to taste
2/3 cup sweet or hot soppressata, diced into 1/4-inch cubes (or some of each)
Preheat the oven to 350F.
Place the bread slices on a baking sheet and bake them until lightly brown or toasted. You may do this on a grill if you prefer.
Transfer the slices to a cutting board and rub the garlic clove several times across the surface of each one. Spray each slice with olive oil.
In a mixing bowl, combine the fresh ricotta, Pecorino Romano, fresh basil, salt and pepper. Top each crostini with the ricotta cheese mixture. Then sprinkle diced soppressata over crostini. Arrange on a serving platter, garnish with whole fresh basil leaves, if desired, and serve.
Featured in program 1721
This recipe is from CIAO ITALIA PRONTO! by Mary Ann Esposito, published by St. Martin's Press in 2005.
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