Before I got familiarized with the food blogging community and before I realized that a herb garden is possible in our balcony, which is as big as a hand kerchief, I had some ‘Green Friends’ at home…..10 pots of some indoor plants and some converted outdoor plants….and some marigolds planted on the ground in front of our house, for which I had to get permission from our Leasing office, so CJJ who loves to see fresh blossoms when he opens the front door, gets a pleasant and refreshing view everyday ! I poured all my love and care on our green friends……caressed ‘em…..watered ‘em…..sometimes I spoke to ‘em when nobody was around….they brought life and positive energy to our home. I was quite happy with my green friends but the moment I entered the world of food blogs and learnt that herb garden is possible in our matchbox apartments, I got into the clutches of greediness…the thought that I need not spent $3 and some cents on a small bunch of basil or mint, perhaps to use only 1-2 sprigs and then store them in refrigerator, to see the inevitable wilted leaves after a week or two …so this time when the Spring started, I was quite excited and under the guidance of RP and Shaheen who gave me lots of tips on seeds and seedlings, soil and containers, I started out with a small batch of mint, sweet basil, cilantro, parsley, oregano, rosemary, and chilies…..though very few showed some resistance, I am quite happy with my herb garden now…..A corner of my balcony is all green now…..my small beautiful green forest :) So, thought the best way to show off would be with this Sweet Basil plant and an Italian appetizer made with basil chiffonades.
My homegrown Sweet Basil Plant in a window-box.
Almost an year ago, when me and CJJ were lazing around, on a Saturday morning, lying down and struggling hard to accommodate both of us in a single couch and while browsing through the channels aimlessly, we chanced upon a cooking show, America’s Test Kitchen, and this particular recipe, Hot Crostini, evoked my interest mainly because of all that rich colour and the freshness and evidently, the fact that it can be prepared in less than 10 minutes! Crostini, means ‘little toasts’ in Italian. They are “small thin slices of toasted French bread, drizzled with olive oil and topped with a few simple ingredients and served as appetizers”. Easy to make, especially for your last minute parties!
Ingredients for Hot Crostini:-
- Half loaf of French Baguette Bread
- 1/4 cup red onion minced
- 1 medium size tomato
- 1/8 cup green bell pepper (Capsicum)finely chopped
- 1/8 cup red bell pepper finely chopped
- 1/8 cup yellow bell pepper finely chopped
- 1/2tbsp garlic minced + 1 whole garlic
- 6 basil leaves roughly chopped
- ¾ tbsp extra-virgin Olive oil + more for brushing the bread slices
- 1/2tbsp red wine
- Salt to taste
- 1/8 cup grated cheese of your choice (optional)
- Halve the tomato and squeeze out all its watery pulp and seeds; finely chop the cleaned tomato and mix with finely chopped onion, tri-colour bell peppers, garlic and basil chiffonades. Add olive oil and red wine and season it with salt. Mix well, cover and let this stand in the room temperature for 30 minutes, allowing all the flavours to set in.
- Preheat the oven to 450F. Cut the baguette bread into ½ inch coin shapes or small circles. Brush some olive oil and toast in the oven for 3-4 minutes or until they turn golden brown and crisp. Halve the whole garlic and rub lightly onto the toasted slices, to get the flavour and aroma of garlic bread. Spoon some mixture onto these garlicky crispy breads and garnish with some Parmesan or Mozzarella or any cheese of your choice. Serve with wine and sorriso*
This goes to Green Blog Project - Summer 2007 hosted at Letzcook.
I have already blogged a recipe for Tomato Bruschetta, another Italian appetizer which is similar to Crostini…..though I really could not understand the difference between Bruschetta and Crostini in concrete terms, these links, here & here, throw some lights to clear up the confusion. Nevertheless, I would really appreciate if any of my Italian fellow bloggers or Italian readers, if any, could come up and help us distinguish between Crostini and Bruschetta!!!.
* Sorriso is Italian for Smile :)
UPDATE : Here’s an excerpt from the mail I received from Susan of Food Blogga, an Italian American from Rhode Island, currently residing at California. She was the best authentic source I could catch hold of from my contacts : “Though I am not an expert in Italian cuisine, here is my best response. In Rhode Island (where we have a large Italian population) bruschetta always referred to toasted bread topped with garlic, olive oil, and fresh tomatoes. Crostini was what we called toasted bread that had toppings other than tomatoes. So, here's my personal explanation of the difference between bruschetta and crostini: Bruschetta usually refers to bread that is toasted (over a wood fire or a grill or a skillet) then rubbed with fresh garlic, drizzled with olive oil, and topped with fresh tomatoes, basil, salt & pepper.Crostini typically refers to bread that is brushed with olive oil first then toasted. Unlike bruschetta, crostini is served with various toppings, such as beans, eggplant, or roasted peppers. “