Colorful Spring Crostini

You remember my birthday party spread? Delicious spring ingredients and lots of finger foods!

 

Party Food | Land of Laurel

 

I am mildly obsessed with crostini. You’ve seen my fall fave, Pomegranate, Butternut Squash Crostini, and I’m here today to share some delightful spring combinations! This isn’t an exact recipe, but rather a guideline on a great, easy, and colorful way to make a huge variety of crostini.

 

Colorful Spring Crostini | Land of Laurel

 

For my party, I started with a few basic crostini ingredients: baguettes and spreads. I knew I was going have quite a few people over, so I thinly sliced two baguettes and toasted the little pieces in the oven at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 5-7 minutes. I wanted them to be golden, but not browned at all and just perfectly crunchy. While they were toasting, I made my spreads. Since I was doing many different flavor variations on the toppings, my spreads were basic. I used about 12 ounces of ricotta per baguette, mixing it with a bit of cream so it would spread more smoothly. I then took half of the ricotta-cream mixture and microplaned in the rind of one lemon as well as the juice. You could easily add some chopped fresh herbs at this stage too. After that it was all the toppings! The night before I’d roasted my veggies for about 10-15 minutes with a little salt, pepper, and olive oil, leaving the vegetable-y taste: cherry tomatoes, thin slivers of zucchini and carrot, red bell pepper. I whipped up a little caramelized onion: letting it sizzle gently on the stove for just under and hour before adding a bit of water and some balsamic vinegar. I also boiled some asparagus for about 5 minutes until it was just cooked, but still had a bit of a crunch. Other toppings I used included toasted almond slivers, walnuts, and pinenuts, avocado, and cucumber. After that, it was just a little more flavor with herbs: fresh mint, basil, and dill thinly sliced and sprinkled on top. On some crostini I gently drizzled a little honey to bring out a bit of sweet flavor.

 

Crostini Close-Up | Land of Laurel

 

Simple right? And oh so delicious. It was a lot of toppings, but the prep was simple and I did most of the cooking the night before. The day of, I took all the veggies out of the refrigerator and brought them to room temperature before putting all the crostini together. It was quick and painless and abso-freaking-lutely gorgeous!

 

Colorful Crostini | Land of Laurel

 

Here are some of my favorite flavor combinations:

 

Lemon-Ricotta Spread, Asparagus, Toasted Almonds, Dill

Ricotta Spread, Basil, Honey

Lemon-Ricotta Spread, Avocado, Dill

Ricotta Spread, Roasted Cherry Tomatoes, Basil

Ricotta Spread, Roasted Cherry Tomatoes, Roasted Bell Pepper

Lemon-Ricotta Spread, Roasted Carrot, Mint

Ricotta Spread, Caramelized Onion, Toasted Almonds

Ricotta Spread, Walnuts, Honey

Lemon-Ricotta Spread, Roasted Zucchini, Basil, Toasted Almonds,

Lemon-Ricotta Spread, Roasted Zucchini, Roasted Carrot, Dill,

Lemon-Ricotta Spread, Caramelized Onion, Walnuts

Lemon-Ricotta Spread, Pear, Almond, Basil

Lemon-Ricotta Spread, Pear, Walnut, Honey

Lemon-Ricotta Spread, Basil, Pine Nuts

Lemon-Ricotta Spread, Pine Nuts, Roasted Zucchini, Dill

 

The best part is an hour and a half of prep with just a little bit of a whole lot of ingredients gets you a wonderful plethora of creative and colorful crostini! At my party I was able to prep some other dishes that involved more knowledge of the recipe, while putting three great helpers on crostini duty. I gave them my list of suggestions, but they enjoyed coming up with their own creative combinations, leading to a delightful, varying snack.

 

What’s your favorite party food? Do you like to prep a bunch of food before hand or cook everything the day of?

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Slow Roasted Bell Pepper Salad

Hello everyone! Guess what? Working crazy long hours is not conducive to blogging. Like, at all. I’d apologize, but my time card at work says it all. Plus, women apologize too much. I’m trying to break the habit. What’s everyone been up to? Ready for the Oscars? I’ve watched several of the movies this year, but didn’t quite make it to all of them. Room blew me away, though. It’s an emotional rollercoaster of a movie, but so fantastic and heartbreaking. The acting is phenomenal. I want it to win… everything! The Revenant’s been getting quite a bit of publicity, but I was sorely disappointed. I found it boring and very ridiculous. It was mostly a movie of someone walking and then every ten minutes something insane would happen, like he’d be thrown off a cliff or a bear would attack or something would be on fire. It just got to be a bit much…

 

Moving on from the Oscars, I recently read a fantastic book! It’s called My Berlin Kitchen by Luisa Weiss the author of the Wednesday Chef blog.  I hadn’t read her blog before and simply liked the idea of a book about Berlin when I saw it at a used bookstore. The book ended up being quite wonderful! Luisa grew up in Berlin and Boston. Since I went to college in Boston (Tufts, the same school Luisa’s father worked at!) and studied abroad in Berlin, I felt a connection with many of the places and foods she mentions. Her sweet story about finding love and where one belongs in the world really struck with me. Afterall, she basically lives my dream: travel the world, speak many languages, find amazing German man, marry him, live together in Berlin, raise German-speaking babies. Ahh… if only! Plus, the many recipes she includes are incredibly inspiring!

 

She mentions a Slow Roasted Bell Pepper Salad she learned to make from her mother and had me craving it right then and there. I had next to none of the ingredients she included in her recipe, but I did have bell peppers. Always one for innovation, I decided to plug forward on my own and give the Slow Roasted Bell Pepper Salad my own little spin. It was so incredibly easy and delicious! Peeling the bell peppers does take some time, but over all, it’s so quick. It may still be winter, but this recipe has me dreaming of hot summer days, barbecues, and long, hot hikes. The mix of sweet bell pepper and salty olives is invigorating. Topped with feta cheese, the whole thing is just perfect for a summer picnic… or a cold February day! I’ve made this three time in two weeks! It’s just that good!

 

Slow Roasted Bell Pepper Salad | Land of Laurel

 

 

Slow Roasted Bell Pepper Salad

3 large, organic red bell peppers (or several small ones)

1/2 cup organic, pitted kalamata olives

1/4 cup artichoke hearts

2 teaspoons olive oil (truffle olive oil is particularly good)

1 clove organic garlic

Organic feta cheese in brine

Breadcrumbs (I used a piece of German Steinerbrot that I toasted and crumbed myself the first time I made this, and whole wheat panko crumbs from Berkeley Bowl the second time. Both were delicious, so use whatever you have on hand!)

salt and pepper

 

Slow Roasted Bell Pepper Salad with Feta Cheese | Land of Laurel

 

First pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Wash your bell peppers well and place on oven safe cookie sheet (lining this cookie sheet with compostable parchment paper will making cleaning up easier). Place the cookie sheet in oven and roast the bell peppers for 45-60 mins. Turn bell peppers (I just use my fingers on the stems) every 10-15 mins as they roast. Slow roasting this way (as opposed to quickly over open flame) makes the bell peppers sweeter and more delicious. While they roast in the oven, chop up your artichoke hearts, olives, and garlic in to fine pieces no larger than 1/4 inch. Place these into a medium sized bowl and stir well together. This won’t take long, so you’ll have time to clean up, before moving on to the roasted bell peppers.

When the bell peppers are well roasted (black in a few little spots with crumbly skins), remove them from the oven and let cool until you can handle them easily. Then begin peeling their skins off. Rubbing with a clean dish towel may help with this. Drying your hands frequently will help you peel more easily too. As you peel them, shred the bell peppers into thin strips with your fingers. Place peeled, shredded bell pepper into the same bowl as the olives, garlic, and artichoke hearts. Add olive oil, salt, and pepper. Toss together and serve sprinkled with feta cheese (I like quite a bit!) and bread crumbs.

 

Slow Roasted Bell Pepper Salad with Feta Cheese and Bread Crumbs | Land of Laurel

 

Hope you find this as delicious as I did! Look for My Berlin Kitchen if you want to try the original recipe. Have a great Oscars night, y’all!