Crostini six ways

by Mary Bailey

Crostini are a host’s best friend. These toothsome little bites, essentially a small piece of grilled bread with a topping, can be put together in a hurry with a loaf of bread and jars from the pantry. Try these savoury hits of deliciousness with cocktails, with champagne, with beer.

Basic Crostini

Crostini should be bite sized or close to it. I like to use the small Tree Stone rustic loaves, but baguettes, ciabattas or small diameter crusty loafs will all work.

  • 1 loaf bread, sliced fairly thin
  • 2 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • sea salt and freshly cracked pepper
  • finely chopped thyme or rosemary (optional)


Preheat the oven to 375º F.

Place all ingredients in large mixing bowl and toss the bread slices until they are evenly coated. Place on a baking sheet or roasting pan in one layer and bake until golden and starting to crust, about 10 minutes. A few darker spots, even burnt bits, are good. Turn once halfway through cooking. The crostini should have a bit of give to them — bake too long and they will be too brittle and hard to eat. If making ahead, cool before bagging or putting in a tin. Crostini keep for about a week but are at their best within a few days of baking. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.

Herb Toasts: Add fresh chopped herb (thyme, rosemary, parsley) to the oil. Top with goat cheese, then chopped black olive or thin-sliced roasted red pepper (from a jar).

Parmesan Toasts: Brush one side with finely grated Parmesan then finish baking. Top with a slice of Parma ham drizzled with balsamic glaze.

Beef Filet with Gorgonzola Cream

A bit more complicated perhaps, but worth the trouble.

  • 1 piece (1½-lb) beef filet* trimmed, at room temperature
  • 1 t canola oil
  • 16-20 crostini
  • 1/3 – ½ c mayonnaise or plain yogurt
  • 1 c crumbled (Gorgonzola) or blue cheese of your choice


To cook the beef: Tie the beef with kitchen string to help maintain its shape. Pat beef dry and season. Heat oil in a heavy small skillet over medium heat. Place beef in skillet and cook until brown and cooked to desired doneness, about 8 minutes for rare, (or grill on the barbecue). Freeze the beef until it is just frozen — this makes it easier to slice, about 3 hours. Cut the beef into thin slices.

Mix the mayonnaise and cheese together until it is just holding together. It should be chunky; do not over mix. Place a small spoonful on each toast and top with a slice of beef, attractively arranged. Makes 16-20.

The beauty of using filet for this recipe is that it will slice evenly without any layers of sinew running through, and it is luxurious. You could use flank or hangar steak instead.

Chicken with Oregano on Olive Ciabatta

The olive ciabatta made by the Italian Centre makes excellent crostini, crisp yet with enough give.

  • 12-16 olive ciabatta crostini
  • 1 breast chicken, poached, cut in strips or diced (or cooked white fish)
  • 1 c chevre or ricotta cheese
  • zest of ½ orange
  • sea salt and fresh cracked pepper
  • 1-2 T chopped parsley


Blend the zest with the cheese and spread on crostini. Top with chicken. Season and dust with chopped parsley. Makes 12-16 crostini.

Herbed Tomato with White Bean

Bean mixture

  • 1 can white (cannellini) beans or chick peas, well drained and rinsed
  • 1 clove garlic, mashed
  • ½ t ground cumin
  • sea salt and freshly cracked papper
  • ½ bunch fresh parsley, leaves only, chopped fine


Mash white beans with the back of a fork or a potato masher until somewhat pureed, leaving some whole or partially whole. Add garlic, cumin and parsley and mix well. Season.
tomato mixture

  • 1 T (or so) extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 t lemon juice
  • 2-4 roma tomatoes (or equivalent campari or grape tomatoes) diced, seeds removed
  • 1 handful basil leaves, chopped fine
  • 1-2 sprigs thyme, leaves only, chopped fine
  • sea salt and fresh cracked pepper


Drain tomatoes for about 20 minutes to remove excess water. Place oil and lemon juice in a medium sized bowl and whisk until emulsified, adjusting quantities if necessary. Add tomatoes and herbs to the dressing and toss to coat. Season.

To serve: Place a dollop of white bean puree on each toast. Top with a small spoonful of tomato mixture. Makes about 16 toasts.

Chinese Barbecue Duck Crostini

I love to stop by Pak King’s in Chinatown to pick up a barbecued duck, dumplings or some toothsome pork for parties. They will chop the duck for you and arrange it attractively in a box to take home.

  • 20-25 crostini
  • 1 barbecue duck
  • 1 c (or so) hoisin sauce
  • 2-3 green onion, sliced very thin and chopped into pieces no longer than each crostini
  • 40-50 enoki mushrooms


Drizzle each crostini with hoisin sauce (from the jar). Arrange duck meat and a bit of crunchy skin on each. Place a few onion strips over and top with two enoki mushroom. Drizzle with a bit of rice vinegar or lemon juice if desired. Makes 20-25 crostini.

Caesar Salad Crostini

Who doesn’t love Caesar salad?

  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 white anchovies, chopped
  • ½ T Dijon mustard
  • ½ c olive oil
  • sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 head romaine lettuce, washed, dried, torn into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 chunk Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese for grating


Rub the inside of a large wooden bowl with the garlic cloves. Remove the garlic cloves, and chop finely. Add the garlic, egg yolks, anchovies and mustard to the bowl. Whisk until all ingredients are incorporated, then whisk in the lemon juice. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil while whisking constantly. Whisk until all the ingredients are emulsified. Season the dressing with salt and pepper. Place lettuce in a clean bowl and toss with a spoonful of dressing at a time until your desired degree of dressing to lettuce is reached. You may have some leftover dressing.

Place a mounded spoonful on each crostini (nice on the parmesan toasts if you like it really cheesy). Grate cheese over and serve immediately. Garnish with crumbled bacon if desired.

Caponata Crostini
  • 1 tub Caponata* (Sicilian eggplant, caper and tomato relish)
  • 12–16 crostini


Place a dollop on each crostini. Serve.

Upper Crust makes a good one.

Shrimp Crostini
  • 1 can small shrimp
  • 2 T mayonnaise
  • 1 T capers
  • 1 handful chopped Italian parsley
  • lemon juice
  • 10-12 crostini


Mix all ingredients to taste. Place on crostini and serve. Makes 10-12.