A few days ago I posted a recipe for a beet and goat cheese crostini. While I personally love beets, I can't say the same for some close friends and family members. And the last thing I want to do when heading to someone's house – even to my own parents' – is to bring an appetizer that I know will only be enjoyed by half of the people there. So as I was making the beet crostinis, I grabbed some Campari tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella out of the fridge and decided to make an alternative for the beet-averse folks in the crowd. I followed the exact same instructions from the beet and goat cheese crostini recipe, still toasting the baguette slices, spreading them with the goat cheese mixture, but then adding a layer of buffalo mozzarella and marinated Campari tomato slices. A sprinkle of chopped tarragon finished off the crostini and before you know it I was ready to head out, two appetizers in hand.
Caprese crostinis; these will disappear at your next dinner party!
Of course, it would be irresponsible of me not to try my own appetizer. I love nothing more than taking a bite and then getting a second opinion from my husband; our household's official taste tester. If he closes his eyes and lets out an escalating "mmmm!" I know I've got a winning recipe on my hands. In this case, as I took a bite several layers of flavor immediately came through. First, the sweetness from the balsamic reduction and Campari tomato flesh. Then the salty creaminess of the mozzarella, the tang from the goat cheese, heat from the raw garlic and slight hint of licorice from the tarragon. Granted, this flavor explosion was over in about 10 seconds; just enough time to take a second bite!
My go-to mozzarella (same with ricotta): Angelo & Franco
The moral of this one-recipe-turned-two-crostini story is that you should never be afraid to modify a recipe. Instead, be original, use ingredients that you (or others) love and get creative. You just might end up with a winner!
For the baguette slices:
- 24 (1/2-inch-thick) slices diagonally cut French bread baguette, toasted
- 1/4 cup olive oil
For the goat cheese spread:
- 1 (5-ounce) package goat cheese
- 1 tablespoon light mayonnaise
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh tarragon
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
For the Caprese topping:
- 6 Campari tomatoes, sliced
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (I used a balsamic reduction)
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 package buffalo (or water) mozzarella, cut into 1/3" slices
Prepare the crostini slices: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and move one oven rack to top slot. Slice baguette into 1/2-inch thick slices. Using a pastry brush, coat one side of each slice with olive oil. Place on a cooking sheet, olive oil side down. Once the oven has reached 450°F, place a tray of bread slices in the oven on the top rack. Toast for 5-6 minutes, until the bread just begins to turn golden brown. Note: Make sure to watch very closely as the bread can go from brown to burned in an instant!
Prepare the goat cheese spread: combine goat cheese, mayonnaise, tarragon, 1/8 teaspoon pepper, and garlic in a small bowl. Spread each baguette slice with one teaspoon cheese mixture.
Prepare tomatoes and mozzarella: In a medium bowl combine the balsamic vinegar, lemon zest & juice, salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Add tomato slices; toss gently to coat. Set aside. Slice the buffalo mozzarella into 1/3-inch thick slices. Set aside.
Top with two slices of buffalo mozzarella and two slightly overlapping slices of tomato. Sprinkle with chopped tarragon as a garnish and serve immediately!