Crostini ideas get you to the party on time

Two crostini options, pesto dressed with ricotta and crushed pepper flakes or roast beef with horseradish cream and cracked pepper. — Nicole Jackson

The holiday season is enjoyable, yet overwhelming and busy; shopping for gifts, decorating the house, attending holiday parties, all in addition to daily responsibilities. When I am invited to a holiday party, I always have the intention to cook something astonishing to please the crowd. Like clockwork, when it comes to the day of the party, I have numerous detailed recipes bookmarked, which doesn’t do me much good if I don’t have enough preparation time. The stress sets in, and I still have to go to the store, find something other than my grubby work clothes to wear, find and apply makeup, and pick up the Yankee swap gift I haven’t gotten yet. No wonder so many of us are late. I presume this sounds familiar, unless you’re one of those people who plan — I am not.

Crostini, “little toasts” in Italian, always appeared fancy to me, but I learned they actually originated in medieval times when Italian peasants couldn’t afford ceramic plates and preferred to eat their food off (oftentimes stale) toast. This near-instant hors d’oeuvre is a savior for any procrastinating cook. Assembly of the crostini is so easy that you won’t be embarrassed by showing up to the party empty-handed. These 30 crostini combinations shouldn’t require much cooking, other than toasting the bread and melting the cheese if needed.

To make the bread bottoms, preheat oven to 350°, slice baguette diagonally ½ inch thick, lightly brush both sides with olive oil, place on baking sheet, bake 5 to 6 minutes, flip, bake another 5 to 6 minutes, or until golden brown. The ideal texture is crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. It’s important not to overtoast; if they are too hard, they’ll hurt your mouth and flake all over your clothes, making it difficult to eat.

I’ve compiled a list of 30 ideas to inspire you, but the varieties are endless. They have three to five ingredients, typically combining sweet and salty flavors. There are more intricate recipes online, but in the interest of time this holiday season, these are kept simple, so hopefully, you can make it to the party on time.

  1. Cream cheese, smoked salmon, dill (or capers)
  2. Blue cheese, pear, honey drizzle
  3. Ricotta, pesto, red pepper flakes
  4. Brie, whole berry cranberry sauce
  5. Black bean salsa, sliced avocado, spoonful of sour cream, lime squeeze
  6. Fresh mozzarella, tomato, basil, balsamic reduction, drizzled with olive oil
  7. Goat cheese, sliced prosciutto, sliced peaches
  8. Goat cheese, apricot jam, pistachios, topped with mint
  9. Goat cheese, walnut, honey drizzle
  10. Hummus, olives, feta, olive oil drizzle, cracked pepper
  11. Hummus, roasted red peppers
  12. Pesto, sliced radish, sprinkled with sea salt
  13. Fig jelly, topped with crumbled blue cheese
  14. Crab salad and cucumber
  15. Horseradish cream, roast beef, topped with cracked pepper
  16. Diced avocado, tomato, lime squeeze, olive oil drizzle
  17. Goat cheese, diced beets, arugula, olive oil drizzle
  18. Tuna salad, dill, sprinkled with parsley
  19. Brie, hot pepper jelly
  20. Mayonnaise, tomato, spinach, bacon, ranch drizzle
  21. Ricotta, blackberries, honey drizzle
  22. Nutella, raspberries, dusted with powdered sugar
  23. Ricotta, blueberry jam, topped with sliced jalapeño
  24. Fig preserves, prosciutto, topped with baby arugula
  25. Rotisserie chicken mixed with barbecue sauce, topped with coleslaw
  26. Ricotta, strawberries with lime
  27. Lemon ricotta, honeyed peaches
  28. Smoked gouda, apple, honey drizzle
  29. Goat cheese, apple, cinnamon
  30. Chocolate, caramel drizzle, sprinkled with sea salt