Food & Wine (August 2008)
For our Dinner with Mom, we wanted a meal that would be light and summery, but full of delicious flavors that would highlight the vegetables in season. And since we were having a few friends over, we wanted a dinner that would lend itself to sharing and fun conversation.
Our solution? Small plates.
By now, tapas are a familiar part of American menus. But the idea of cooking small plates at home can be a little daunting: How will you cook every item you need? How can you ensure it will all be ready at the right time? Won't you spend the entire meal jumping up to prepare the next dish?
As it turned out, our small-plates dinner was a blast, and -- with three sets of hands and a little extra organization -- it was pretty simple to prepare. And it was a fun way to showcase some delicious seasonal tastes.
And there was no better way to kick off the meal than with these delectable beet crostini.
Our beet love is well documented. The beets we got from our local farmers market were fresh and tasty. In this recipe, they give a lovely ruddy spice that blends fantastically with the burrata.
This was actually the first time we'd ever encountered burrata, which is a cream-filled mozzarella cheese. It was lush, delicious cheese, but, to be honest, we found it a little tricky to work with. The very idea of slicing cream is, well, difficult. Our suggestion? Don't get hung up on pretty slices here. Just use your fingers to pinch off a little slab.
Other than that, this was a pretty simple dish to put together. We roasted and sliced the beets well in advance. Once the guests arrived, all we had to do was toast the bread and assemble the crostini.
Have other crostini you enjoy? Please share!
ACTIVE TIME: 25 MIN
TOTAL TIME: 1 HR 35 MIN
Beets are often thought of as a cold-weather vegetable, but Paul Virant loves the sweet varieties, such as Chioggia, available from the late spring through the fall. For this crostini, he stacks roasted beets on top of buttery burrata (cream-filled mozzarella) that he buys from California’s Caseificio Gioia, which makes a variety of traditional fresh Italian cheeses.
* 1 pound medium beets, preferably Chioggia
* 1 baguette, cut crosswise into forty 1/4-inch-thick slices
* 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
* Salt and freshly ground pepper
* 9 ounces burrata, cut into 40 pieces
* Snipped chives, for garnish
1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Place the beets in a small roasting pan and add 1/4 inch of water. Cover the pan with foil and bake for about 1 hour, until the beets are tender. Let cool completely.
2. Increase the oven temperature to 400°. Arrange the baguette slices on 2 large cookie sheets and brush with extra-virgin olive oil. Bake for about 10 minutes, until the bread is crisp.
3. Peel the beets and halve them lengthwise, then cut cut them crosswise into 1/8-inch slices. Transfer the beets to a bowl. Add the 1 tablespoon of olive oil, season with salt and pepper and toss to coat.
4. Top each crostini with a piece of burrata and a beet slice. Garnish with the snipped chives and serve immediately.
MAKE AHEAD The roasted beets can be refrigerated overnight. Slice and serve at room temperature.