This is probably the perfect summer appetizer. Okay, so it’s really good anytime of the year. But, just in case you’ve been living in a cage, it’s officially summer, so we’re going to be making these lovelies. We’re going to be making these a lot. So you’re on notice. This is one of the most delicious and probably easiest appetizers I make. It’s, dare I say, flexible beyond belief. You can use the best and most flavorful seasonal fruits. You can add fresh herbs at will, or leave the cheese plain. You can use grated orange, lemon or lime rind; use whatever compliments your fruit of choice. You can make up the ricotta mixture and just have it in the fridge. It will keep at least a week. If you’re going to make it ahead of time, then leave out the fresh herbs and just sprinkle them gingerly (ginger might be a nice addition…but I digress) over the top for a nice garnish. But do add the citrus zest ahead of time. You want it to permeate every corner of the ricotta. Oh yeah, splurge…use the whole milk ricotta. You’ll want good bread. I used a sour dough with black olives added, which I really like with fruit, but you may use whatever you prefer. You can toast the crostini ahead of time, toss them in toss them into a bag…done! You can do that at least a day ahead. You want a “sweet drizzle”, like honey or maple syrup. And, since The Goddess considers balsamic vinegar more or less her drink of choice, we put a nice drizzle over the fruit. Use plain, flavored or a balsamic glaze…whatever floats your proverbial flavor boat. This does need to be assembled pretty close to your serving time, but I assembled it more or less within 30 minutes of serving. But, all the components were ready to go. Don’t forget a few grains of good salt on the fruit. Salt and fruit work very well together—try salt on watermelon the next time you have some. Trust me on this!
For gluten-free, use gluten-free bread, but otherwise this should work for our celiac friends. For honesty purposes, the pictures indicate about 1/3 of the recipe given. I adjusted the ingredients accordingly.
Crostini with Ricotta and Fruit
- 2 cups whole milk ricotta cheese (you can use low-fat, but don’t!)
- 1-2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon, orange or lime zest (see NOTE)
- 1-2 tablespoons very finely julienned fresh basil
- 2-3 teaspoons very finely julienned fresh mint
- 2 teaspoons snipped fresh chives
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Good bread, sliced a good 1/4-inch thick, toasted
- 1 cup thinly sliced fresh ripe fruit (you may need more or less)
- Honey or maple syrup
- Balsamic vinegar, flavored balsamic or balsamic glaze
- Good salt (Maldon®, Fleur de Sel, Himalayan pink, etc.)
So you’ve toasted the bread and set it aside. In a bowl, combine the ricotta, zest, and fresh herbs (add only if you are going to use this mixture within 6-8 hours—otherwise add when you assemble the crostini just prior to serving.); stir until well combined. Set aside, in the fridge, for at least 2 hours or for up to one week. Return to cool room temperature before serving.
About 20-30 minutes before your ready to serve, assemble the crostini. Smear about 3-4 teaspoons of the ricotta mixture on each toast. Top with several slices of nectarines, peaches, apricots, plums, strawberries, etc. Drizzle with the balsamic of choice and the honey (or maple syrup). If you made the ricotta ahead, then you can sprinkle some of the julienned herbs over each crostini; sprinkle with a few grains of good salt. Serve with 30 minutes of assembling.
NOTE: Choose whichever zest best compliments your fruit of choice. Strawberries are particularly good with lime or orange; nectarines—lemon or orange; peaches—lemon or orange; apricots—lemon; plums—orange, etc. Combine the julienned fresh herbs, when sprinkling them over the mixture. Each bite will be just slightly different and interesting.
Crostini with Ricotta and Fruit Recipe©Marcia Lahens 2016. All rights reserved.
I like to keep this simple, letting the clean flavors of the fruit and herbs shine, but if you want you can add toasted nuts, crumbled bacon, diced prosciutto….see flexible. I don’t use apples with this. They aren’t as interesting, but pears work well and orange suprêmes work, too. These would be more for fall and winter, but now with most fruit readily available all year long, you have more options. Whatever you do, make these. You’ll love them and so will your guests. They may finally recognize you as the genius you truly are. I’ve known it all along! Enjoy!