I feel like I haven’t made an appetizer in a long while. But when a “girls’ night in” rolls around at a friend’s house, I get excited to whip up a little something to add to the mix. And that night was last night! It seems like we always have plenty of good quality cheese and crackers and I don’t mean that in a “I’m-not-grateful-for-cheese-and-crackers” kind of way. I would forego most full course meals for a dinner of cheese, crackers and wine. We usually have some hummus and/or some type of ‘bake-tip-bubbly’ cheese dip too (again, could be a stand-in meal for me any day of the week in an ideal world where calories, fat content and IBS were nonexistent). But I always love to throw something different and unique onto the appetizer-filled coffee table.
I came upon this Roasted Garlic and Walnut Crostini recipe a few weeks ago in Cuisine at Home (if you want my sales pitch on this awesome cooking magazine, click on my Slow Cooker Boneless Ribs with Louisiana Style BBQ Sauce). A few years ago I think I would have flipped right past this page but roasted garlic has become a true wonder to me. A head of garlic is so easy to roast and it becomes an entirely new ingredient with which to work. It yields a sweet and deep, rich flavor, not at all pungent and intense like fresh garlic. I absolutely love it and have been inspired recently to find new ways to use it (I need to post my Roasted Garlic and Cauliflower White Cheddar Soup that I made a few weeks ago). So when I saw this crostini with roasted garlic walnut spread topped with tangy sweet apples and thyme, it screamed cozy fall comfort food. I wasn’t quite sure how my friends would feel about these little guys but all seemed to enjoy them and go back for seconds. We all liked the combo of the sweet-tart apples (the sweet vermouth was a nice touch!) and rich savory roasted garlic and walnut spread. I will most definitely revisit this recipe a few times this fall and winter and likely play around with other sweet fruit topping options.
Roasted Garlic and Walnut Crostini
1 french baguette, sliced in 1/4 in thick slices (16-20 slices)
2-3 Tbsp olive oil, divided
salt and pepper
3 bulbs of garlic, roasted
1/3 cup walnuts, toasted
1 tsp packed fresh thyme
1/2 tsp cider vinegar
1 medium-large sweet-tart apple, like Honeycrisp, finely diced (or Asian Pear or a firm nectarine)
1 1/2 Tbsp sweet vermouth (sub apple juice, apple cider or a little water with lemon)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut garlic bulbs in half, then light drizzle cut sides with olive oil. Tightly wrap garlic, cut sides up, with foil. Roast garlic until tender, 30-40 minutes. While garlic is roasting, brush 1 Tbsp oil on one side of baguette slices, season lightly with salt and pepper. Bake baguette on a baking sheet (can be in same oven as garlic), oiled side up until crisp, 10-12 minutes. In food processor puree roasted garlic (once cooled, squeeze the cloves from the skins), walnuts, remaining 1-2 Tbsp oil, 1 tsp thyme and cider vinegar until smooth; season with salt and pepper. In a small bowl, toss diced apple with vermouth. Spread roasted garlic mixture onto each crostini, then top with 1 Tbsp apple and garnish with fresh thyme.
Recipe adapted from Cuisine at Home Issue No. 107 September/October 2014