At the peak of entertaining season, when the edibles seem endless, distinguish your fête fare by engaging your eaters in a build-it-yourself Crostini-Rootini Bar.
Crostino is Italian for “little crust” and the eponymous appetizer has traditionally been crafted of thin slices of toasted or grilled bread (though these little crusts can be rooted out for extraordinary results) that can be dressed with an assortment of spreads, toppings and garnishes.
While simple in concept—a base with toppings—the possibilities for expressing culinary gumption are glorious! The set-up is simple, and you can get as creative as you like. Following are a few basic guidelines upon which you can build the most talked about bites-of-the-season experience.
If you want to keep it classic, then nothing beats a baguette, sliced and toasted. That said, there is room for interpretation. (They don’t call it the culinary arts for nothing). And if you prefer to brazenly push the envelope, go the rootini route. What roots add – a twist to texture and taste – is as significant as what they don’t add – gluten.
The spread can make the spread. While it is savvy to have at least one savory option and one sweet option, it’s suitable to have a wide range of soft, spreadable offerings from which to choose. While you are welcome to make your own, there is a wealth of really interesting and delicious ready-made, ready-to-serve options at Trader Joe’s. (We value the convenience.)
This choose-your-own-culinary-adventure starts to really explode with creativity now. The toppings tantalize with complementary or contrasting taste, texture, color... Set out a vivid selection of toppings (5-7 should keep things interesting) to stimulate fun food pairings. Arrange each individual item (sliced or chopped for ideal usage, if needed) in separate bowls with serving spoons. To encourage the shy or lazy, set-out a few tried-and-true combinations (see Step 5).
Garnishes should appealing to the eye and complement the experience of the crostini. No need to go overboard with the finishing flourishes – offer a balanced selection (3-4) of spices, herbs, greens, glazes, oils, etc. for best results.
1) The Carrot Cake
TJ's Organic Whole Carrots + TJ's Honey Walnut Fig Cream Cheese + TJ's Raisins + TJ's Ground Cinnamon
2) The Snappy Sirloin
TJ's Parsnips + TJ's Beef Sirloin Roast + TJ's Whole Grain Dijon Mustard + TJ's Chives
3) The GORG-ous Beet
TJ's Organic Beets + TJ's Creamy Gorg + TJ's Organic Arugula + TJ's Sweet & Spicy Pecans
4) The Figgy Crunch
TJ's Brioche Toasts + TJ's Fig Butter + TJ's Isle of Arran Cheddar Cheese + TJ's Honey Crisp Apples + TJ's Glaze
5) The Strawberry Cheese Crisp
TJ's Multigrain Pita Bite Crackers + TJ's Le Delice de Bourgogone Triple Cream Soft Ripened Cheese + TJ's Strawberries + TJ's Thyme
The Perfect Pairing: Prosecco!