Whenever your heart is craving a little gourmet appetizer, try this Caprese-style crostini recipe. Soft panini bread topped with roasted cherry tomato, caramelized onions, mozzerella and fresh basil, finished with a dash of balsamic glaze is one of my newest addictions. Read the recipe here!
Balsamic vinegar is an acquired taste. Add a wrong combination to it, and you may as well start hating it. But if combined well, it can be heavenly. I first tasted it with all the wrong combinations. It was okay with dry antipasto but not enough to make me want to have it all the time.
Next was in Spain, roasted asparagus with sea salt and balsamic reduction. Lovely combination but not “heavenly”. And after many more tastings here and there, I finally fell in love with the sundried tomato, mozz and basil pizza with balsamic glaze. So soft. So fresh. Mouth watering as I type.
There are some things you have somewhere, then keep trying to recreate and fail. And then there are just those recipes that come to you and make you feel like you’re home. And that’s exactly how this crostino is. If you love Italian food and antipasti, you’ve probably already had this combination of ingredients in some form or the other.
Personally, I find crostini bread or toasted baguette too hard to enjoy. But I still love to try different crostini recipes. So I just gave crostino a soft-bread with glaze spin. Hope you love!
Prep time: 10 minutes, Toasting time: 7 minutes
Here’s what you’ll need for the crostini recipe:
– Panini bread – 1/2 loaf (herbed and spicy preferred)
– Cherry tomatoes – 1/2 cup
– 1 Red onion
– Garlic – 2-3 cloves
– Basil – 4-5 fresh leaves
– Mozzarella cheese
– Balsamic vinegar – 4 tsp
– Extra virgin olive oil – 1-1/2 tsp
– Garlic & herb butter – 1 tsp
– Brown sugar – 1 tsp
– Sea salt and black peppercorns- freshly crushed
1. In a small non-stick pan, add balsamic and brown sugar on high heat. Reduce to simmer just as it begins to bubble. Keep stirring well so that sugar is dissolved and so the vinegar reduces to just half its original quantity. Set aside when the balsamic reduction begins to coat a spoon without flowing off. The glaze is ready.
2. Pre-heat the oven to 150 degrees Celsius.
3. Slice onions length-wise and set aside. Cut cherry tomatoes in half length-wise. Dice garlic and set aside.
4. Heat a cast-iron skillet (or non-stick pan). Add onions to it with 1 tsp olive oil, tossing when needed. Set aside when caramelized.
5. On the same pan or skillet, roast cherry tomatoes with garlic with another 1/2 teaspoon olive oil. Set aside when the side with seeds is medium-brown and the other side is softened.
6. Rub butter on aluminium foil or baking dish to place bread. This will add taste and prevent sticking.
7. Slice panini bread through its thickness and width-wise to make thin, handy slices. Lay it on baking tray or over aluminium foil.
8. Divide onions, garlic and tomatoes, laying them equally on each panini slice.
9. Slice mozzarella cheese into thin slices. Lay one on each bread slice.
10. Sprinkle salt and pepper to taste.
11. Slide the baking tray in the oven and set the timer to 7 minutes.
12. If required, turn the tray inside out to evenly heat all the slices.
13. Once the mozzarella is melted and beginning to brown, take the tray out.
14. Tear basil leaves into smaller portions and lay over the bread.
15. Add balsamic glaze and serve hot.
This crostini recipe would be great as an appetizer with some Shiraz, or as a tea-time snack as you get home tired from work, craving some healthy carbs. Once you learn to make great how to make crostini, it also works great as a party snack, made in finger-sized portions. For a party you could even use puff pastry sheet instead of panini bread for an added flare!
For a bigger gathering, you can also serve this with other crostini toppings like diced olives, grilled zucchini and sun-dried tomatoes with pesto. Caprese crostini is not only a yummy snack, but also healthy.
Balsamic vinegar is known to have antioxidants, cherry tomatoes are rich in vitamin C and fresh cheese is a great source of protein and calcium. A limited amount of olive oil itself is beneficial in fulfilling our body’s daily fat requirements and has antioxidants and mono-saturated fatty acids that lower cholesterol. But don’t overdo it! And if you wanted to make this crostini recipe even healthier, swap the panini bread with whole-wheat bread.
Hope you try this crostini recipe soon and enjoy it. If you loved it, share your pics with me on Instagram by tagging me @shilpaahujadotcom! Lemme know your thoughts below!