Sunday, April 19, 2009


One of my absolute favourite meals is a cheese plate. Although it is one of the simplest things to throw together, it is a gourmet experience that I find very special. I've read the rules on how to pair different cheeses for a plate, but I don't care to follow them. I'm not sophisticated in my cheese likes and dislikes; I just like what I like! So, I choose three or four cheeses that taste good, and, if you ask me, they always go together perfectly.

Sometimes when Jeff and I have planned ahead for a cheese plate, we go all out with cured meats, different chutneys, balsamic vinegar and spiced olive oil, nuts, and fruit. However, in its most basic form, all you really need for your plate is the cheese, some good bread, and maybe some olives. (Wine is a given, of course). A really easy way to bring a simple cheese plate to the next level is by making your own toasted bread slices, crostini (Italian for "little toasts.'') The small effort it takes to make them is nothing compared to what they bring to the meal, and they are a million times better than anything that comes in a bag.

All you need is a fresh baguette, sliced on the diagonal. You then brush both sides of each slice with olive oil, and sprinkle them liberally with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper.

In they go to the oven for a few minutes, until they look like this:

At this point, if you want to punch up their flavour, you can rub the hot toasts with a peeled clove of garlic (a trick I've learned from Giada De Laurentiis from Everyday Italian). But, since I wanted the flavour of the cheese to take centre stage in this particular meal, I simply let them cool to room temperature on the pan.

Once cooled, there is no limit to the toppings you can use on crostini: you can make bruschetta, top them with sundried tomato or olive tapenade, spread cream cheese on them and sprinkle them with fresh herbs, or just pile them in a basket and eat them plain with a selection of good cheese and olives.

If perfection has a taste, it is crostini. They are delightfully crispy on the outside, yet slightly chewy when you bite into them. The olive oil and seasoning, combined with the toasting, makes them much more interesting than a plain baguette, and far more satisfying than crackers. I can't tell you how worth it it is to take a few extra minutes to make them; you'll just have to trust me and try it yourself.

The next time you find yourself unsure about what to make for dinner, consider a simple cheese plate with crostini. I guarantee you will feel very special. Also, I know from personal experience that if you have a spread like this ready for your significant other when they get home from a long hard day, they will love you forever. Sounds good to me!

Crostini: The recipe

Fresh baguette (I like whole wheat, for extra flavour)
Olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly cracked black pepper
Clove of garlic, peeled (optional)

Preheat oven to 350C.

Slice baguette into 5mm slices, on the diagonal. Brush both sides with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and fresh black pepper.

Bake on a cookie sheet for about 6 minutes on each side, until golden brown on the edges.

Rub warm toasts with the garlic clove, if desired.

Let toasts cool to room temperature. Top with whatever your heart desires. Enjoy!

Store toasts in an airtight container.

Crostini on Foodista


  1. It was an amazing way to end a long day. It was exactly what I needed. A nice glass of wine, some cheese and these crostinis. They are so simple, but so damn tasty.

    The salt, pepper and the crunchy chew enhance the cheese so much.

    It was the perfect dish to enhance a relaxing Saturday evening with the woman I love.

    Thank-you so much.

  2. I made this exact recipe on Saturday night as well...TWINS!

    We had it with crackers, brie, gruyere, artichoke and asiago dip, and green grapes.

  3. Amanda, I love the crostini. I never thought of putting fresh cracked pepper on them. Duh! Brilliant Idea!
    The granola is good as parfait. I use plain greek yogurt, berries and I drizzle it in honey. Garnished with slithered almonds, it's a wonderful breakfast!

  4. Hi, Kristin: You and me, we're LIKETHISSSSS. Wow, that spread sounds amazing! Care to share your dip recipe? Grapes are a great idea; so classic with cheese, and yet I've never done that before!

    Hi, Pam. The black pepper is a nice touch! :)
    I LOVE plain greek yogurt. That sounds delicious. I must have people over for brunch, ASAP! :)

  5. That looks so good! Your photos are wonderful!

  6. I could eat this all day!First time here Amanda and I love what you got going here!Hope you wont mind but I'd love to guide Foodista readers to your site, just add this little widget here to this post and it's all set to go, Thanks!

  7. @ ilcucchiaiodoro: Yes, they are. Thanks!

    @ Melissa: Thank you very much. I know nothing about photography, so that is a really nice compliment. Thanks for visiting!

    @alisa: Welcome, and thank you! Certainly, I will do that. :)