There’s nothing like celebrating the holidays at home. With living in New York City and most of our family in Buffalo, short trips home to be with family are my favorite thing. I can’t get enough of cooking together in a busy kitchen — chopping, boiling, slicing, broiling, baking, stirring and more.
This Christmas, my sister and I decided to whip up some holiday appetizers for the crew and set our eyes on a type of crostini — something simple to make, that can be adjusted into a couple varieties. And colorful, of course.
The winner after browsing through Pinterest and seeing what we had time to make the morning of our holiday party was a Lemon Ricotta Crostini with two topping varieties — an artichoke heart tapenade with balsamic & parsley option and an multi-colored heirloom tomato with parsley option.
We couldn’t wait to get started.
1 small french baguette
1 container of Ricotta (we used Bel Gioioso Ricotta con Latte – Part Skim)
1/2 can of quartered artichoke hearts
Salt & Pepper
Dozen cherry/heirloom tomatoes in variety of colors
Lemon Ricotta Crostini
To start, have one small (as in thin, not short) fresh baguette sliced into small crostini, feel free to use any type of bread you prefer — we went with classic french white. Our local bakery sliced them for us when we purchased, ask if yours can do the same to save some prep time.
Wash over olive oil on each piece and place in the broiler — we did for 2 minutes to speed up the process (but keep an eye on!) — we almost left in too long, but caught just in time, with not many crostini causalities in the process.
You can also just bake for a few minutes in your regular oven, and take out when they are lightly toasted. Next we’ll start on the lemon ricotta.
Pour the container of ricotta into a mixing bowl and add the zest of two full lemons to taste — we felt that two was the perfect tartness to add a little citrus flavor. Once zested, cut one of the lemons in half and squeeze out the juice from the whole lemon to taste.
Sprinkle some salt and pepper for flavor and then carefully kneed the mixture together, you’ll want to fold in the zest and lemon juice, not mix vigorously. You can set this aside in the fridge for now, time to prep your toppings!
For the heirloom tomato kind — thinly slice a variety of multi-colored tomatoes (for aesthetic purposes) — when possible make sure the slices are a full circle and set aside the ends and tops. These can still be used, but we just went with the sliced pieces.
On the side, also dice and chop up the quartered artichoke hearts, which will be used on the second kind of crostini we are making today. You can also chop up your fresh parsley to set aside now as well, we’ll be using that as a top garnish for each crostini. Once your toppings are prepped and ready to go, it’s time to plate our appetizers.
To start, add a dollop to each toasted crostini piece and softly spread across the whole piece. No need to flatten, you’ll want the ricotta to be light when you place the toppings on.
Finally the fun part — adding the toppings. We did the heirloom tomato type first and placed two or three tomato slices on top of the crostini lightly, sprinkled with salt and pepper on top across the plate and then tossed the chopped parsley on top of each one.
For the artichoke type — we took a small spoon and spooned a small pile of chopped artichoke heart to the top of the ricotta, sprinkled with salt and pepper and then topped with a drizzle of balsamic glaze on each piece.
Finally, we tossed some fresh parsley on these as well for garnish — and a really delicious herby taste. Both types were a great mix together and gave a couple nice options for people to choose from. Plus the color was incredible, having stopped myself probably five times while chopping to say, “oh my gosh, these tomatoes are so pretty!”
We were very happy with how the lemon ricotta came out and really — the toppings and what you’d like to add can really be up to you. It’s such a light and refreshing base that leaves room for a more robust flavor or kick on top of the crostini — like the balsamic glaze, where a little goes a very long way. Enjoy!