Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Crostini With Fresh Ricotta, Artichoke Hearts And Current-Pine Nut Relish

Crostini Ricotta, Artichoke Hearts Current-Pine Nut Recipe

I am always on the lookout for unique, delicious appetizers that can be made ahead of time. We all love a festive spread of hummus and crudites or a beautiful cheese board, but sometimes we need to mix things up. And when that time comes, crostini is always a fabulous option. You can assemble crostini ahead of time and serve at room temperature.  Or allow your guests to assemble their own by preparing the toppings in advance and arranging them in ramekins on a serving platter with freshly toasted bread. I really enjoyed this recipe as these little bites are mighty in texture and flavor. The star ingredient is a sweet and tangy relish of balsamic vinegar, pine nuts, currants and rosemary. A swipe of fresh ricotta and a layer of marinated artichokes slightly tame the boldness of the relish. If you are a fan of balsamic vinegar, I bet you can't have just one!

Crostini With Fresh Ricotta, Artichoke Hearts And Current-Pine Nut Relish

1 fresh mini baguette, about 6", cut on a diagonal into 8 pieces
olive oil
1 garlic clove
1/2 c ricotta cheese {I used low fat}
kosher salt
4 whole marinated artichoke hearts, halved
- and for the relish
1/4 c pine nuts, toasted in the oven at 325 degrees for 5-8 minutes
1/2 c balsamic vinegar
1/2 c dried currants {I ran short by 2 T so I added in 2 T of golden raisins}
1/2 c finely chopped red onion or shallots
1 T minced garlic
1 dried chili, chopped {cutting it into small pieces with kitchen shears works well too}
2 fresh rosemary sprigs
1 t kosher salt
1/4 c olive oil

Combine the balsamic vinegar, currants, onion or shallots, garlic, chili, rosemary and kosher salt together in a small saucepan over high heat. Bring to a simmer and then reduce to medium low and continue to simmer for 8 minutes until you have a thick, syrupy glaze. Stir in the pine nuts and olive oil and simmer for 30 seconds. Remove from heat and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the bread slices on a baking sheet and brush the tops with olive oil. Bake them for 15-20 minutes, until they are toasted and golden brown. Remove from oven and rub the tops of the bread with the the garlic clove.

Mix the ricotta with enough olive oil to obtain a loose, spreadable consistency.  Season with salt.

To assemble, spoon about 2 T of ricotta cheese on each crostini, followed by two artichoke heart halves. Finish by spooning 1 T of currant-pine nut relish over each crostini.  

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Source:  A Twist Of The Wrist , Nancy Silverton

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