My biggest issue with most appetizers is the heavy reliance on dairy products...mostly cheese. If you have read this blog for any length of time you are well aware that I attend Feta-haulics anonymous (Chef Dennis is right down the hall in the Squash Blossom Addiction Recovery Meeting) pretty much to no avail. I really TRY to be a good vegan but for that evil feta...okay maybe I'm not so stalwart where Greek Yogurt is concerned either but we won't talk about that.
What I like most about crostini as a starter course is that you can put anything you want on the top and call it party time without having to rely on cheesy, high calorie, high fat spreads. I usually buy whole grain baguettes, slice and toast them myself to save on the fat and improve on the nutrition. Ready made (in most bakery departments) are usually from white bread and coated quite heavily with suspicious oil. Basically, IMHO...if it isn't olive, coconut or grapeseed oil...it's probably suspicious but thats another article.
Today I have a trio of vegan crostini for your viewing and reading pleasure. They are simple, pretty, delicious, inexpensive (except maybe for the mushroom medley) and very easy to make. Included here is another one of my lovely "mocktails". Now I know you're probably saying to yourself..."Gee, that would be awesome with some booze in it" and you'd probably be right. Unfortunately, I bust out in hives within minutes of taking one sip of alcohol so mocktails it is. Ever the party animal huh? I'm practically certifiable when sober...'nuff said!
Lets begin with our first crostini which is the most basic of all...bruschetta.
Simple Bruchetta Crostini
The key to really great bruchetta lies in the quality of the ingredients. I've used vine-ripened local tomatoes, fresh garlic, top shelf cold pressed extra virgin olive oil and young tender basil from my patio garden. Take note of the bread. It is whole grain baguette with flax seed which I've sliced, toasted and then rubbed with cut garlic while it is still hot. The bruschetta is made simply by starting some sliced garlic out in cold oil and warming slowly till the garlic is browned. Remove with a slotted spoon and allow oil to cool before stirring in diced tomatoes and fresh basil. I taste, add salt as needed and chill. What could be easier?
Next up is Cannellini and Sun-Dried Tomato Crostini
Again, it can hardly be any easier and quicker than this. Rinse and drain a can of organic cannellini beans and toss into the food processor. Add 1/4 cup of oil packed sun-dried tomatoes (with their oil), a couple of pieces roasted red bell pepper, salt and pepper to taste and pulse away. Drizzle in more olive oil as needed. Spread on crostini, top with slivers of more sun-dried tomato, toasted pignoli, a drizzle of the tomato olive oil and fresh herb of choice. You can whip up a platter of these in mere moments to enjoy with friends.
These delicious appetizers are full of fiber, antioxidents, healthy fats and bursting with flavor.
Lastly, I have a little different crostini for you. This one is made of polenta which is cooked in vegetable broth with some garlic, salt and pepper. Spread into a greased mould of choice and chill. I actually used the lid to a butter dish to make a small rectangle that sliced up into lovely bite sized pieces.
Polenta Crostini with Wild Mushroom Medley
Prepare the polenta according the ratio on the package substituting low sodium organic vegetable broth for the water and a pat of Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Spread for butter. Add kosher salt and some fresh grated or pasted garlic. When cooked, spread into mould and chill. Slice polenta and lay on a greased baking sheet. Brush tops with olive oil, bake util slightly crisped on the outside. The polenta will still be soft in the center. You may broil the tops if you like.
The mushroom medley is just a BIG heap of whatever wild or cultivated mushrooms you can get sauteed in olive oil with chopped scallions. Add salt and pepper, a little dried thyme and finish off with a pat of Earth Balance. Use to top toasted polenta crostini.
As promised, I'm throwing in a cocktail and it's a good one! I call it a
You'll need to prepare some lime simple syrup which I do by adding the peel of one whole organic lime to 1 cup organic cane sugar and 1 cup water. Heat until sugar melts and let it cool with the lime peel in it. Discard the peel and use the syrup for drinks.
Add desired amount of syrup to the bottom of a tall cocktail glass. Squeeze half a lime into the glass and add several pieces of mint. You may muddle the mint a bit if you choose. I usually drop the squeezed lime half into the bottom as well. Fill the glass halfway with sparkling mineral water and then add ice. Top off with a splash of organic unsweetend coconut milk and swirl with a coctail stir. Deeee-licious!
It was about to storm like the end of the world so these came out a little dark...sorry! Next time I make them, I'll take new pictures.
(c)copyright Jill Anderson
The Homegrown Gourmet