Toast, transformed

Crostini: Canapes with a tuna-olive spread are versatile go-withs.

March 19, 2000|By Annette Gooch | Annette Gooch,Universal Press Syndicate

Crostini (Italian for "little toasts") are bread- or polenta-based appetizers that highlight the versatility of Italian cooking. Topped with sage-scented chicken liver pate, caponata or anchovy and a bit of cheese, crostini can be as elaborate or simple as the palate and the occasion warrants.

These charming canapes are most often baked, broiled or toasted. For toasted bread rounds, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice day-old baguettes into 1/4 -inch slices. Brush on both sides with olive oil; place on baking sheet; dust with grated Parmesan, if desired. Bake in preheated 350-degree oven until crisp.

One style of crostini -- an irresistible rendition of bread and butter -- features a slice of warm toast slathered with a flavored butter (also called compound or composed butter). This version of crostini is an excellent accompaniment for main-course soups such as minestrone.

A dried chili and capers enliven a rich tuna and olive spread for serving on warm toast rounds. This recipe can easily be halved.

Tuna-Olive Butter

Makes about 3 1/2 cups; 10 to 12 servings.

2 6-ounce cans tuna, drained

3/4 cup unsalted butter

1/2 cup whipping cream

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 small dried red chili, finely crushed

1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

2 tablespoons chopped capers

1/4 cup chopped parsley

1/2 cup chopped pimento-stuffed olives

salt, to taste

Place tuna in food processor. Cut butter in pieces and add to tuna with cream, mustard, chili and black pepper. Process until mixture is smooth.

Turn into a bowl and blend in capers, parsley and 1/4 cup of the olives. Taste, and add salt if needed. Spoon into crock or bowl. Cover and refrigerate until mixture is firm and flavors are well blended (2 to 3 hours or overnight).

Remove from refrigerator about 30 minutes before serving. Garnish with remaining olives before serving.

Pub Date: 03/20/00

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