I'm a freak for crostini, any kind! It's the best thing to serve when friends arrive. So easy and as long as you have a good loaf of bread! You can always forage through your refrigerator or cabinet and you're bound to be able to throw something together in a few minutes. And here's a great little tip. I don't always have a loaf of fresh bread in the house, believe it or not. Here's what I do.... When I buy a loaf of Acme levain, my favorite, when I have leftovers, I slice it, pop it in a ziplock and store it in the freezer. If I need bread, I grab the slices I need and just throw them on the grill or toast them under the broiler or use my tostapane. Just like fresh!
Back to the crostini, this one is fun. I make it with artichokes I either buy at the olive bar or by the jar, or if I'm feeling ambitious, I make them myself. I chop them and add some grape leaves. This time of year is perfect for getting tender, young leaves in the vineyard. OK, so you don't live next to a vineyard? Just buy the ones in the jar!
What do you serve for wine? Some people say that artichokes and wine can't be paired. I love this crostini with Sauvignon Blanc or a good glass of sparkling. You have to try it and let me know what you think!?
12 medium artichokes
10 sprigs of thyme
5 bay leaves
20 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
With a vegetable peeler, remove the zest from the lemons.
Prepare a large bowl of water to which you have added the juice of 1 lemon. Remove the tough outer leaves of the artichokes. Working with 1 artichoke at a time, cut off the top half of the artichokes, including all of the prickly leaf points. Remove the tough outer leaves of the artichoke until you get to the very light green leaves. Pare the stem to reveal the light green center. Cut each one in half lengthwise, then scoop out the prickly chokes and discard. Cut in half again. As each is cut, place in the bowl of lemon water.
Drain the artichokes and place them in a saucepan with the juice of the remaining 4 lemons, the lemon peel, thyme, bay leaves, garlic, olive oil, and salt. Add water just to cover. Cover the pan with a piece of parchment and weight the parchment with a small plate that fits inside the pan. Over medium-high heat, bring to a boil, turn down to medium, and simmer for 5 minutes. Turn off and let the pan cool completely, about 1 hour.
Divide the mixture between 2 quart (liter) jars and store in the refrigerator until ready to use. They keep for 2 weeks in the refrigerator.
Makes 2 quarts
CROSTINI WITH ARTICHOKES AND OLIVES
6 whole artichokes in brine, very coarsely chopped
4 grape leaves in brine, stems removed, rinsed, and very coarsely chopped
1/2 cup imported green olives, such as picholine, pitted
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
11/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 long baguette, sliced on the diagonal into 16 1/2-inch slices, toasted or grilled
Lemon wedges as a garnish
In a bowl, combine the artichokes, grape leaves, olives, garlic, and lemon zest. Place on a cutting board and chop together until coarsely chopped. Return the mixture to the bowl and add the olive oil, lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste.
To serve, spread the mixture onto the toasted bread and serve immediately, garnished with lemon wedges.
Makes 16 pieces and serves 8