A couple of weekends ago I was in Impruneta in provincial Florence. It was like everything you’d expect from a small Tuscan town; winding countryside roads, rolling hills, incredible regional produce and beautiful views in every direction. It was breathtakingly beautiful and I seriously considered moving there approximately 4 times in a 36 hour period.
We were there for a wedding. A proper Italian, Tuscan wedding – or matrimonio toscano, if you will. Not that I’m massively into it but you know, basically the dream.
The ceremony was short and tasteful. The views were undeniably beautiful. The company was unbeatable, and the food? Incredible. I’m talking salty cured meats, the freshest tomatoes, the most creamy and delicious burrata I have ever encountered, zucchini flowers, pork cheek, fresh pasta – the list goes on. I left beaming and well-fed, and perhaps a little tipsy. Ya know.
After we got back to London it got me thinking about my favourite appetisers and entertaining dishes and it occurred to me there was something that could be in the running for the ultimate ‘occasion’ nibble: crostini.
Crostini consist of toasted slices of ciabatta, drizzled with great quality olive oil and topped with pretty much whatever you fancy. Keeping true to its Italian origin you could go for a simple mushroom or tomato and basil topping, but I love to get more creative with flavours and textures.
Longing for the burrata I ate in Impruneta and not having it to hand I topped toasted fresh ciabatta with ricotta, before laying to bed wafer thin slices of Parma ham and shaved asparagus on top, finishing with a simple leaf or two of fresh basil. Uh-oh kinda heaven.
Crostini certainly get my vote. What are your go-to dinner party dishes?
Happy Friday (and 4th July for all y’all American readers)!
Ricotta, Asparagus + Parma Ham Crostini
Makes 8 crostini
1 loaf of ciabatta, cut into inch thick slices
1 garlic clove
4-5 slices of Parma ham
4 small or 2 large asparagus
250g ricotta cheese
Toast the ciabatta slices. Rub the garlic clove over one side of each crostino slice.
Season the ricotta with a little salt and pepper and dollop onto each crostino. Next top with a sliver of Parma ham.
Cut the asparagus into ribbons using a vegetable peeler and blanche in boiled water for around 1 minute. Drain and cover with cold water to prevent losing the vibrant green colour.
Top the Parma ham with the asparagus ribbons, followed by a few basil leaves and a healthy drizzle of olive oil.