Crisp baguette slices topped with a mix of goat cheese and green garlic create a lively seasonal appetizer. Recipe below.
Babies and even toddlers have naturally sweet smelling breath. Baby’s breath, as it were. When older daughter Claire was not quite two years old, we were having dinner at the wonderful Blueberry Hill in St. Louis one evening. Marion’s salad arrived, festooned with a heap of raw red onion, which immediately captivated young Claire. She insisted on eating all of it. Carrying her as we left the restaurant later, I noticed that her breath was an amusing mix of baby’s breath and ONIONNNN!
In a way, that describes the taste of these luscious crostini. Goat cheese has a nice, mild, non-assertive flavor, and the green garlic—even used raw, as it is here—offers a much milder version of mature garlic’s big flavor. The end result is a crunchy, satisfyingly savory appetizer that melds the creamy richness of the cheese with a mild garlicky kick.
“Crostini” is Italian for “little toasts”—and for cooks pretty much everywhere, it means “blank canvas for inventing delicious appetizers.” The idea is wonderfully straightforward: Brush bread slices with a little olive oil and then toast them in the oven, under the broiler, on the grill or, as I did here, in a grill pan. You can flavor the bread with garlic infused oil or not. Then you top it with any manner of delicious concoctions. This recipe is loosely based on one by Robin Raisfeld and Rob Patronite, published a few years ago in New York magazine.
Pan-grilled Crostini with Green Garlic and Chevre
8 ounces good quality chevre [goat cheese]
5 to 6 stalks, green garlic
1 baguette, sliced at an angle into 1/2-inch slices
Place the chevre in a medium bowl. Mince green garlic, white and light green parts only, peeling away any tough outer parts of the stalks. Finely chop about 2 tablespoons of the tender green tops. Mix minced green garlic and tops into the chevre with a fork. Set aside.
Working in batches, lightly brush baguette slices on both sides with olive oil. Heat a grilling pan over a medium high flame. Brush lightly with olive oil and add baguette slices in a single layer. Toast on both sides, about 2 to 3 minutes per side, until crisp and marked with grill marks [see Kitchen Notes]. Transfer toasted slices to serving platter and spread each with a bit of the chevre/green garlic mixture. You may run out of the cheese mixture before you run out of baguette slices. If you do, improvise. Serve. These crostini are fairly sturdy and can be kept at room temperature for a half an hour or so while you prepare other parts of your meal.
A toast to versatility. I used a grilling pan because I liked the grill marks it creates and didn’t feel like heating up either the oven or the grill. Both are fine options. Grilling the crostini over charcoal will add a wonderful smoky touch to the flavor of these appetizers. And the oven is a great way to toast all the bread at once. Just preheat it to 400ºF, spread the oiled baguette slices on cookie sheets and bake until golden brown.