Avocado crostini with goats cheese and chouriço, garnished with pistachios and red endive
The little bites at the start of a meal are often what we remember best. Here’s an easy appetizer that should hit a home-run for the crowd.
Choose an artisanal baguette baked fresh that day. If you must buy it ahead, wrap it well and freeze it for up to a week. A crusty-type loaf works better with this recipe than a chewy loaf. The chewy ones don’t toast as crisply and it’s harder to break off dainty bites. I learned this the hard way.
If you can find a loaf made from whole grain bread, take bonus points for good nutrition! Some more tips…
Choose ripe avocados for this recipe. The skin should be a darker green, almost black. The flesh should give a bit when gently pressed, but it shouldn’t feel mushy. When you knock the little cap off the top, the skin underneath should look white, not brown. If you are shopping several days ahead, you can buy greener avocados and let them ripen in a brown paper bag on the counter. If you don’t want them to ripen further, store them in the fridge.
I had some avocado puree left over, after serving this dish. The next day, it was as green as on the day I made it. The lemon juice worked wonders at preserving the color. It means you can make the puree in advance – yay!
The meat topper can be prosciutto or any flavorful processed sausage. I chose a spicy Portuguese chouriço, dried and smoked, like its more well-known Spanish counterpart chorizo. It tasted delicious. Apparently the Mexican version of same is raw – so take note.
I loved garnishing this green appetizer with freshly crushed green pistachio nuts. The red endive contrasted nicely. The leaf, however, can be quite disappointingly bitter. Rather than leave all those wonderful red antioxidants on your plate, try eating the endive WITH the crostini. I found combining the leaf in the same mouthful as the crostini diluted the bitterness so much, there was no unpleasantness at all!
My thanks to What’s Gaby Cooking for bringing this easy dish to my attention. Here are the details.
Makes 16 pieces to serve 8
• ½ loaf french bread, cut into thin slices
• 1 tbsp olive oil
• 4 ounces spreadable goat cheese
• 2 tablespoons fresh pesto
• 2 ripe avocados
• ½ lemon, juiced
• 4 ounces thinly sliced chouriço sausage
• salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Place the sliced bread on a greased baking sheet and brush the slices with olive oil. Or spray them with butter-flavored Pam. Toast the bread in the oven for 10-15 minutes until golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool.
3. In a small bowl, combine the goat cheese and pesto until evenly combined. Put a tablespoonful on each of the slices and spread it evenly.
4. In another small bowl. mash together the avocado and lemon juice. Season the mixture with salt and pepper.
5. Place a spoonful of avocado mixture on top of the goat cheese on each slice, followed by a small slice of the sausage.
6. Place two slices artfully on each serving plate, offset by one red endive leaf.
7. Dust the tops with freshly cracked black pepper and crushed pistachios, and serve with a smile.
Eat up for good health
Avocado is this dish’s most valuable player. Its unusual fat content provides us with unique health benefits. Omega-3 and other short chain fatty acids help keep inflammation under control. Success is particularly well-documented with arthritis. It also offers vegetarians a complete set of protein components, a rarity in the plant world.
Goats cheese is a low-fat cheese with lots of tang. It provides a second source of protein to this dish. Combining all this protein with the carbs in the bread slows the release of sugars into the blood stream. Result: No blood sugar spikes. No mood swings. More controlled digestion.
Pistachios, basil and olive oil all bring an array of vitamins and minerals to the table, too. Eat up and win big!
Vinny cooks up an internet dinner – For the full menu and other recipe links to this delicious meal, click here!
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