To me, the terms bruschetta and crostini are kind of synonymous to each other, although they do actually have slightly different meanings. Bruschetta comes from the Italian word bruscare, which means to roast over coals. Originally whole breads were roasted this way. They were heavy, hearty breads, such as an Italian rustic bread or a sourdough type bread. Crostini are the smaller, finer cousins to bruschetta, and are usually made with finer breads, like a baguette that has been sliced into thin rounds. Both are coated in olive oil and toasted. They can be used as croutons, or topped with a wide variety of toppings and can be eaten on their own or as a side dish to a salad or soup.
Bruschetta has been around since the days of the Ancient Romans. This roasted bread was used as a way to taste and test the freshly pressed olive oil from when the olive growers would bring in their olives to the local presses. Crostini, which translates to little toasts, is thought to have originated in the Middle Ages. The Italian peasants did not have plates to eat off of, so instead they used bread. Often times the bread was stale, so it needed to be soaked in some kind of liquid, often times it was wine, in order to become edible. Today, crostini are most often coated in olive oil and roasted.
Today, both bruschetta and crostini are topped with so many types of toppings. The possibilities are endless. They are always a big hit, no matter what topping is used. I tried something a little different this time, and it was a huge, delicious success, just as expected. I made a squash butter and used that as my topping, along with some ricotta cheese and caramelized shallots.
The recipe called for delicata squash, and I looked high and low for it, but could not find it anywhere, so I used butternut squash and a cue ball squash instead. Ironically, when I wasn’t looking for it, I was able to find the delicata squash with no problems. Both the butternut and the cue ball squash were very good substitutes for the delicata squash. As I have always said, recipes are NOT set in stone. Feel free to substitute things and change things around if need be, or even just because. That just gives you another delicious twist to any recipe. That is one of the things that makes cooking so much fun. Play with your food. 🙂
Crostini with Squash Butter, Ricotta Cheese and Caramelized Shallots
I baguette, sliced at an angle
2 lbs squash of your choice, peelled and sliced
1/2 cup olive oil, divided
salt & pepper to taste
1 TBSP garlic
2 TBSP fresh sage
2 tsp lemon juice
1 TBSP lemon zest
1 cup shallots, sliced very thin
1 TBSP balsamic vinegar
dash of sugar
Preheat the oven to 425* F or about 200* C.
Toss the squash with olive oil and salt and pepper and place on a baking sheet. Place in the hot oven and roast for about 30 minutes, or until the squash is tender.
Brush both sides of the bread slices with olive oil and place on a baking sheet. Roast for about 15-20 minutes per side before flipping them. You want the bread to be lightly golden and crusty. You can either make this ahead of time and store them in an airtight container, or you can roast them up at the same time as the vegetables.
When the vegetables are tender, place them in a food processor, along with the lemon juice, lemon zest, sage, and more olive oil and/or salt and pepper as needed and process until you have a smooth, creamy puree and everything is well incorporated.
Use the remainder of the olive oil to cook the shallots. Add the balsamic vinegar and the sugar and cook the shallots for about 5-10 minutes, or until they are browned and crisp.
Once everything is cooked, top the crostini with a spread of the squash butter, a spread of the ricotta cheese, and then sprinkle with the caramelized shallots. There will be a fusion of all kinds of delicious flavors and textures going on with every bite. Don’t spread the toppings onto the crostini until right before eating, otherwise the crostini will get soggy and will loose their crunch.
These were a huge hit. Everyone loved them. !Mangia!
Stay safe and stay well Everyone. ‘Til next time.