If the holidays have you scrambling for party-worthy grub, consider crostini (Italian for bread with stuff piled on it).
The beauty of crostini is that the components often can be prepared ahead of time. The bread, for example, can be sliced, drizzled with olive oil and toasted up to a day in advance. Just let the slices cool completely and store them in an airtight container until needed.
With the bread out of the way, all you need to do is sort out what to put on it. You can go the easy route and smear some soft goat cheese over each slice, then sprinkle them with fresh thyme leaves and drizzle them with honey.
Or you could top each with a folded slice of prosciutto and a sliver of Parmesan cheese. Pop them in a 300-degree oven for 5 minutes, or until just warmed through (but don’t let the cheese melt).
Sweet and savory work well, too. Try a smear of cream cheese topped with pepper jelly and thinly sliced scallion. Or substitute a bit of smoked salmon for the jelly for a bagel and lox treatment.
This recipe for crostini topped with mashed white beans, Gorgonzola and honey is easily done ahead. Toast the bread as directed above. Prepare the beans as directed, then let them cool, cover tightly and refrigerate up to a day.
Before serving, reheat the beans in a saucepan over low (you may need to add a tablespoon or so of water), then assemble.
Gorgonzola and White Bean Crostini With Honey
1 (18-inch) baguette, cut into 30 slices
1/4 cup, plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (14-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
1 (5 1/2-ounce) block Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup honey
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Arrange the bread slices on the prepared baking sheet. Brush or drizzle the bread with 1/4 cup of the olive oil. Toast for 5 to 10 minutes, or until golden brown and crisp.
Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan over medium-high, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the garlic and saute for about 30 seconds.
Add the beans and season with salt and pepper. Cook until the beans are very soft, 10 to 15 minutes. Use a potato masher to smash the beans. Set aside.
Once the bread is toasted, spoon a bit of the mashed beans over each slice. Top with Gorgonzola, and finish with a drizzle of honey.
Yield: 30 crostini.