Nothing feels more like an Italian summer than meeting up with friends for two hour long “aperitivo” before dinner. Consisting of a drink; usually a spritz, wine, or vermouth the aperitivo is completed with finger foods, light snacks, and good conversation. The snacks are usually simple like nuts and chips, but they can also be delicately plated Crostini (My Favorite.)
The Italian tradition is said to be an “opportunity to open up your appetite,” before dinner. You could say it’s similar to a happy hour, but a lot more chic. Since Americans can’t get away to Italia this summer, we curated our favorite Crostini recipes. What is a Crostini you ask? Well, it’s pure magic. In Italian, Crostini means little toast. A thin sliced bread, toasted, and then brushed with olive oil. When the Crostini is topped with fresh seafood, pesto, or other toppings it can be called a Canapes. It sounds like a Bruschetta, and they’re really similar, but a Bruschetta will be rubbed with garlic cloves, where a Crostini/Canapes would not be.
Make your own crostini and save money, all you need is a fresh baguette to get started. Try out the super simple directions from The Kitchen Girl, for the perfect Crostini. She says, it’s better to make your own, because store bought Crostini are oftentimes overpriced and over-salted.
How To Prepare The Crostini Bread
“[Step One] slice a baguette or any artisan loaf into 1/4″ thick slices, and slice a slight angle for longer pieces. [Step Two] Lightly brush slices with extra virgin olive oil on both sides.[Step Three] Bake until crispy (see full recipe below for details). [Step Four] Allow to cool; store in an airtight container until ready to use.”
~Buon Appetito, and enjoy our favorite 5 "Aperitivo Crostini" recipes for the flavors of an Italian Summer.
12 ounces black grapes, 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, 1 shallot thinly sliced, 1 teaspoon sugar, 2 tablespoons water ,1 12-inch baguette—sliced into 3/4-inch slices on a diagonal, 4 ounces ricotta salata, 8 thin slices prosciutto, halved crosswise, Extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling, Flaky sea salt, Freshly ground black pepper
[Step 1] Add the grapes, balsamic vinegar, shallots, sugar, and water to a small saucepan and cook over medium to low heat until the grapes cook down slightly and release their juices, about 7 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and set aside. [Step 2] Toast the baguette slices until they're crispy on the edges and lightly golden brown. Drizzle one surface of each piece with olive oil and season with salt. [Step 3] Transfer the crostini to a serving plate. Place one or two thin slices of the ricotta salata and fold half a prosciutto slice onto each toast. Spoon a few grapes into the layers of the prosciutto, drizzle with the grape syrup and olive oil just before serving. Season the crostini with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
1/2 baguette, thinly sliced on a slight bias (16 slices), 8 ounces Brie or other triple-cream cheese, thinly slices, 2 Fuyu persimmons, peeled, halved and thinly sliced crosswise (16 slices), 2 teaspoons light-brown sugar, Freshly cracked pepper, for serving
“[Step One] Preheat the oven to 375 degrees with racks in the top and middle position. Place slices of baguette on a rimmed baking sheet. Toast on the middle rack until dry and light golden, 10 minutes. [Step 2] Preheat broiler. Top each piece of baguette with 1 slice of Brie, 1 slice of persimmon, and a sprinkle of sugar (about 1/8 teaspoon each). Broil on top rack until sugar melts and cheese begins to bubble and turn golden, 1-2 minutes. Serve with cracked pepper."
24 clams (about 7 1/2 pounds), preferably cherrystones, scrubbed and shucked, shells discarded, 1/2 baguette, thinly sliced on the bias to yield 24 slices, Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling, Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, 2/3 cup minced shallots (2 large), 1 tablespoon minced garlic, 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh oregano, 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley, 1 strip bacon, thinly sliced crosswise
“[Step 1] Place clams in 1 layer on a baking dish, and refrigerate. Preheat oven to 400 degrees, and place rack in middle position. Place bread on a baking sheet, drizzle with oil, and sprinkle with salt. Bake until toasted, about 5 minutes. Remove, and let cool. Turn oven to broil. [Step 2] Place butter in a small bowl, and mix until very smooth. Stir in shallots, garlic, oregano, parsley, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper until incorporated. Spoon 1 teaspoon butter mixture on top of each clam, spreading to cover, and top with a few pieces of bacon. [Step 3] Broil until clams are cooked and bacon is crisp, about 6 minutes. Transfer 1 clam and some juice to each toast. Broil 1 minute more; serve immediately.”
1 cup blanched hazelnuts, 1 cup raw pumpkin seeds (pepitas), Kosher salt, ¼ cup freeze-dried blueberries, 2 teaspoons mild red pepper flakes (such as Aleppo-style or Urfa pepper), 1/2 baguette, thinly sliced on the bias to yield 24 slices, toasted, 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling, 2 large ripe mangoes, peeled, sliced, Honey (for serving), Flaky sea salt, **You will need a spice mill or mortar and pestle
[Step 1] Preheat the oven to 300°. Toast hazelnuts on a rimmed baking sheet, tossing once, until golden brown, 20–25 minutes. Meanwhile, toast pumpkin seeds on a separate baking sheet, tossing once, until just beginning to brown in a few spots and very fragrant, 14–16 minutes. [ Step 2] Let hazelnuts and pumpkin seeds cool. Purée in a food processor until a smooth paste forms (this will take several minutes and you will need to scrape down sides a few times.) Taste and season hazelnut–pumpkin seed butter with kosher salt. [Step 3] Finely grind blueberries, red pepper flakes, and a pinch of kosher salt in a spice mill or with mortar and pestle. Drizzle toast with 2 Tbsp. oil and spread 2 Tbsp. hazelnut–pumpkin seed butter over each. Top with mango; drizzle with honey and oil. Sprinkle with blueberry–red pepper mixture and sea salt.
Thinly Sliced Pears, Crushed Walnuts, Blue Cheese Crumbles, ½ toasted Baguette and Honey
Thinly slice ½ of a baguette, toast it, layer Blue Cheese Crumbles, sprinkle with Crushed Walnuts, layer with a thinly sliced pear and finish with a Drizzle of Honey.
One of my favorite things about Italian cooking is the simplicity, and yet there's always an explosion of flavor in every dish. Everything is balanced, and the ingredients are always of quality. We recommend sourcing any fruit or baguettes from your farmers market or local bakery to capture the authentic flavors of Italy.
BCRX Content Writer, Klarrisa Arafa