I have affection for the term ‘bruschetta plate.’ At many of the Italian restaurants we visited while living in Tuscany, bruschetta was a typical starter to any meal. And sometimes: a meal in and of itself. I paid close attention to the little oil-brushed, garlic-rubbed baguette rounds… and what was smeared on top.
Now that I offer private cooking classes—an all-Italian menu being one of them—I have the perfect excuse to play around with all of my favorite crostini toppings. AND colors.
For each cooking class, I like to serve an appetizer that is already prepared—and ready for class-time munching.
For the Italian class that might mean a traditional plate of prosciutto and cheeses, with some roasted tomatoes, or a spread of bruschetta. We might make one of the toppings or two, and I include recipes for a few more. I would quite likely have a thinly-sliced tomato with chiffonade of basil, a drizzle of good oil and pinch of sea salt… to top one. Another crostini might have my favorite topping: white bean and roasted garlic puree. And a third? This bright green concoction: minted pea puree.
In Italy, they might use peas but more likely they would use fava beans for this puree. Mint is quite common in Italy, and topped with chards of just-cut Parmigiano, a quick twist of coarse pepper and drizzle of olive oil? Can you almost taste it?
Minted Pea Puree: 2/3 cup fresh peas, 1/3 cup shredded Parmesan, just ground pepper and coarse salt. Chiffonade of mint (1/4 cup). Puree all but oil in blender, drizzle in (approx. 1/4 cup) oil to desired consistency. Spread on crostini, top with shaved Parmesan, drizzle with oil and cracked pepper.