Last weekend, we invited our dear OC friends Charmi and Niraj over for an Italian feast. These were basically the first friends we made after settling in Southern California, now almost four years ago. And now they’re moving back east. And I want to cry! Don’t you just hate it when that happens? You finally make good friends in a new city – so hard to do the older you get – and then they decide to move and stuff! Happy tears for them of course, but man…going to miss these two.
Of course a nice farewell dinner has to happen – they’re not going anywhere for another month or so but considering the fact that these two are about to have a baby literally any day now, I wanted to seize the opportunity and have them over before life gets just a bit too hectic. And we all know it will. Babies just have that sweet effect.
So what was on the dinner menu? With spring time in the air…I went with penne pasta with pesto sauce, oven roasted lemony asparagus, garlic sauteed mushrooms and my newest culinary creation….white bean, artichoke and pesto crostinis.
I was thinking about making bruschetta but wanted to incorporate some protein into an otherwise veggie packed meal. Plus, I’ve been wanting to make something with cannellini beans or white beans for some time now. Recently, I came across a white bean crostini recipe that looked interesting enough to try. I tweaked it and added in some of my own favorites – like pesto and freshly salted/peppered roma tomatoes. This recipe was perfect and quite the hit. A perfect blend of flavors and a nice way to begin the meal. I think it will be a great spring and summer time appetizer too…with a refreshing beverage in one hand and a super flavorful crostini in the other…sounds like perfection.
First, you’ll need my pesto recipe.
And here’s the recipe for the crostinis.
Try it out and let me know what you think.
- olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 can drained and rinsed canned cannellini beans, reserve about ¼ cup of the water
- ½ pack of frozen artichoke hearts - 6 oz, thawed
- 2 tsp. minced fresh basil
- 1½ tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 2 diced roma tomatoes - seasoned with sea salt and black pepper
- 1 baguette, cut into ¼-inch rounds
- In a small frying pan over medium heat, warm 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Add minced garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Add in cannellini beans and mix together and cook for another 5-7 minutes untill everything is incorporated and heated through.
- Remove from the heat. Let cool to room temperature or close to it.
- In a food processor, combine beans, artichoke hearts, fresh parmesan cheese, fresh basil, lemon juice, salt and black pepper. Pulse until everything is pureed, adding a bit of the reserved cannelli bean water and some olive oil to get desired smooth puree.
- Season with more salt and pepper, if needed. Set aside.
- Preheat oven to 415 degrees. Cut baguette slices and arrange them on baking sheet or pan. Brush them lightly with olive oil. Once oven is heated, toast for about 5-7 minutes or until all slices are toasty and crisp.
- Transfer the crostini to a platter and first, spread a thin layer of pesto on each.
- Next spread about one tablespoon or so of the white bean/artichoke puree on top.
- Srpinkle each crostini with diced seasoned tomatoes and if desired, some parmesan cheese.
- One good sized baguette will yield 24 crostini.