Over the years, I've often served crostini with pre-dinner drinks or at cocktail parties, but I never thought of using them as accompaniments to soup until one of my brilliant friends did so recently at lunch. Her soup was a smooth and velvety cream of cauliflower with just a hint of curry...a perfect foil for the platter of colorful, flavorful toasts that centered the table. Here are the crostini Sarah presented with her soup but you could go on and on with this, right? Check out the apple crostini at the end.
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Slice a baguette into 1/3-inch slices and place them on a sheet pan. Brush lightly with olive oil, season with some coarse salt and bake until golden and crisp, about 15 minutes.
Spread with some of the following toppings:
Whisk equal parts horseradish and sour cream. Season with salt and pepper and spread on toasts. Top with thinly sliced roast beef from the deli and sprinkle with minced chives.
Flake 5 ounces smoked trout into a bowl. Stir in 1-1/2 tablespoons mayonnaise and 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard. Season with salt, pepper and lemon juice. Spread on toasts. Top with a drift of chopped dill and crown each toast with a thin slice of grape tomato.
Olive, orange and mint
Spread Dijon mustard on toasts, then a light layer of mascarpone cheese. Top with chopped oil-cured black olives, an orange segment (pith and membrane removed) and finely chopped fresh mint.
Honey Sriracha chicken
Spread mayonnaise on toasts and top with shredded chicken from part of a rotisserie chicken from the deli. Whisk equal parts honey and sriracha (Asian chile sauce - check your supermarket) and drizzle over chicken. Top with chopped cilantro or parsley.
And, for dessert:
Baked apple crostini
Heat oven to 450 degrees. Peel, core and cut 2 pounds Granny Smith apples into quarters. Place on a rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with 2 cups unsweetened apple juice and a good sprinkling of cinnamon-sugar. Bake the apples for about 20 minutes until tender and lightly browned.
Reduce heat to 350. Mash apples coarsely until chunky. Bake the apple puree, stirring occasionally, until thick and brown, about 1 hour. Remove the apples puree from the oven and cool. Spread on toasted baguette slices and top with a tiny slice of blue cheese and some chopped hazelnuts.