Chive Asiago Pesto Crostini with Roasted Red Pepper, Cucumber and Arugula

These Chive Asiago Pesto Crostini are super easy to make yet they are packed with flavor!  The chive pesto and arugula add a nice mild spiciness, the cucumber gives it a much needed crunchy fresh quality and the roasted peppers provide a lovely smoky flavor that ties it all together.

Chive Asiago Pesto Crostini I am so excited about my new ceramic plates I recently purchased from my friend Jasper.  I met Jasper and his friend Tom a number of years ago at the Santa Cruz farmers market located downtown Santa Cruz.  Jasper and Tom sell their beautiful creations in a booth shared with two other ceramic artists.  Jasper and Tom made all of the ceramic bowls you see on my blog.  I have been in need of plates for a long time now and my jaw dropped when Jasper told me that he had made some.  I knew I had to see them!  The following Wednesday, I headed to the farmers market and when I saw the plates, I just about died.  They were gorgeous!!  I bought 3 of them and then he gifted me one.  Sooo sweet!  I absolutely love his signature cat painted on the backsides of two of my new plates!

Chive Asiago Pesto Crostini The annual Santa Cruz Artist Open Studios was on the following Saturday so Robby and I paid a visit to Jasper’s studio.  I found a large bowl that matched my plates and of course I had to have it!  We were there for a while chatting with Jasper and some of his friends.  We learned that one of his artist friend Joao was from the Azores where Robby’s mom’s family originated.  Before Joao new what island, I blurted out you guys are probably related and he said probably not, then asked what island.  Robby said San Miguel and Joao said yup, we probably are related.  Such a small world!  We also got to meet Jasper’s cat the star of the cat mugs and drawings!  It was a fun visit!  Next, we went to see Tom and of course I found another beautiful white bowl.  Tom was busy with a customer so we bought the bowl and headed home.

I am really stoked for Jasper and any of you who might be interested in his ceramics because he is working on a website store and I will share with you once it is up and running! Woohoo!!!

Chive Asiago Pesto Crostini I would pair these with a Pinot Gris, Soave, Sauvignon Blanc or a Tempranillo.

Chive Asiago Pesto Crostini Chive Asiago Pesto Crostini
Recipe:
  • 1 Large Red Bell Pepper – roasted – cut into 24 thin strips – instructions below
  • Chive Asiago Pesto – recipe below
  • 1 Large Cucumber – thinly sliced – quartered (you can leave the skin on if it’s organic, otherwise peel it.)
  • 12 Slices Sourdough Baguette – crostini recipe below
  • Arugula
Pesto
  • 1/2 Cup Chives
  • 1/3 Cups Walnuts
  • 1/3 Cup Aged Asiago Cheese – finely shredded – packed
  • 1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Cloves Garlic
  • 1 Tablespoons Lemon Juice – fresh squeezed
  • 1/8 Teaspoon Sea Salt – or to taste
Crostini
  • Approx. 12 Slices of Sourdough Baguette
  • Approx. 1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Instructions:
Pesto
Cut chives into 1-inch pieces and finely shred the cheese.

Measure all ingredients and put into a food processor or blender and blend well.

Make sure to scrape down the sides at least once.
 Pepper
Roast peppers on the stovetop on medium-high heat.  A gas stove works the best but it will work fine on an electric stove. Char the peppers on all sides turning with a pair of tongs.  When good and charred, steam them for 10 minutes in a covered dish or a paper bag that is rolled shut to hold in the steam.
Take a paper towel and rub off the char.  It’s ok to leave a little of the char.  Cut the top and the bottom off ,then cut one side lengthwise and lay flat. Cut into thin strips the size of your crostini.
Crostini

Slice the bread into 1/2 inch slices.

Place slices onto a baking sheet and with a pastry brush or your fingers, coat both sides with olive oil.

Place on the top shelf of the oven and broil for 1 – 2 minutes then flip them over and broil for about 1 more minute.  Make sure and watch close, they can burn fast.

I usually put the timer on for 1 minute and check, then put on for 1 more minute while watching.  They cook faster on the second side because they are already hot.
 Assemble

Spread the pesto, top with one slice of cucumber that has been cut into 4, top with two strips of roasted pepper and a sprig or two of arugula.  I like to serve some extra cucumber and arugula on the side.

Chive Asiago Pesto Crostini

Health Benefits:
Chives contain flavonoid anti-oxidants, plant fiber, minerals, and vitamins.  It is one of the richest sources of vitamin K, rich in vitamin C and is really high in vitamin A. It reduces cholesterol production in the liver and helps decrease the risk of coronary artery disease.  It also helps to maintain bone mineral density.

Sun-dried Tomato Pesto White Bean Soup with Asiago Crostini

This Sun-dried Tomato Pesto White Bean Soup is extremely comforting and flavorful!  What’s not to love about white beans, sun-dried tomatoes, basil, Asiago and wine!  The white beans give this soup its heartiness and the sun dried tomato pesto adds a rich savory flavor.  Dip an Asiago cheese crostini into it and you’re good to go!

Sun-dried Tomato Pesto White Bean Soup Last week after Robby and I had lunch at one of our favorite restaurants the “West End Tap and Kitchen, we decided to check out a cool new spot to ride our bikes.  It’s called Wilder Ranch and it’s located off hwy 1.  There is a self-guided walking tour at the State Historical Park Cultural Preserve and a dirt path next to cliffs that overlook the ocean.  The Cultural Preserve was an old Dairy farm that opened in 1859.  Everything is still intact, including the original 1897 Victorian house.  There is a garage that houses a water powered battery charger for the cool 1930 Ford Model A and 1916 Dodge touring sedan.  There is also a working woodworking shop, blacksmith shop and a workroom full of saws, drills, grinders; etc. that were all powered by a water wheel which turns a myriad of belts.  It was the first water-powered belt used to generate electrical power in Santa Cruz.  There is an old barn, stables, and farmhouses that still have animals like a Clydesdale horse, some sheep, goats, and chickens.

We parked on Shaffer Street and then rode our bikes down the bike path that was laden with beautiful flowers and gorgeous views of the organic farms along the ocean.  The path ends at the entrance to Wilder Ranch where we walked our bikes through the old dairy farm. We then rode to the parking lot that led us to the bluff trail, which goes in a complete circle on the cliffs overlooking the ocean.  It has to be one of the most breathtaking picturesque spots in Santa Cruz.  Next time, we will bring food and enjoy a nice picnic on the bluffs.

Sun-dried Tomato Pesto White Bean Soup This soup goes great with a red or a white wine.  A light Pinot Noir is perfect with the flavor of sun dried tomatoes.  I prefer one from Oregon as they tend to be light and dry without the thick date qualities.  If you are more into white wine, try a Pinot Gris, Rueda or Sauvignon Blanc.

Sun-dried Tomato Pesto White Bean Soup Sun-dried Tomato Pesto White Bean Soup Recipe:

Approx. 10 – 12 servings

  • 3 Cups Dried White Beans
  • 12 + 5 Cups Filtered Water (Depending on how old the beans are, you might need to add more, but careful not to overdo it.)
  • 2 Cloves Garlic
  • 1/2 White Onion – diced
  • 3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/3 Cup Dry White Wine
  • 1 Vegetable Bouillon Cube – unsalted
  • 1 Recipe Sun Dried Tomato Basil Pesto – recipe below
  • 1 Cup Greek Yogurt (Greek is much creamier than regular yogurt) or Sour Cream
  • 2 Large Tomatoes – cut in half and grated
  • 1/2 Cup Aged Asiago Cheese – finely grated
  • 2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice – fresh squeezed
  • 1 Teaspoon Paprika
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoon Sea Salt or to taste
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Black Pepper  or to taste
Sun Dried Tomato Pesto
  • 1 1/4 Cups Sun-dried Tomatoes, Oven Dried Tomatoes  or jarred, drain the oil)
  • 1 Cups Fresh Basil
  • 1/2 Cup Raw Walnuts
  • 1/4 Cup Raw Almonds
  • 1/2 Aged Asiago Cheese – finely shredded
  • 1 1/4 Cups Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 Cloves Garlic
  • 2 Tablespoons Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
  • 1 Teaspoons Sea Salt or to Taste
Chili Oil
  • 1 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 8 Dried Thai Chilies or Arbol Chilies
Asiago Crostini
  • 12 Slices of French Bread
  • Approx. 1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • About 1/2 to 3/4 Cup Finely shredded Aged Asiago Cheese
Optional Garnish
  • Minced Sun-dried Tomatoes
  • Drizzle of Chili Oil – recipe above
  • Asiago Crostini – recipe above
Instructions:
 Beans

Measure beans and sort thru to make sure there are no rocks then rinse and drain.

Add 12 cups of water and bring to a boil over med-high heat, continue boiling until beans are soft adding the other 5 cups of water as the beans soak it up. (make sure and keep an eye on them)

Pesto

(I often make this the day before) make sure to puree really well.

Measure sun-dried tomatoes and place into a food processor or blender and turn on until they are minced up.  Add all the other ingredients and blend everything while slowly adding the olive oil.  Blend in sour cream and grated tomato pulp.

Chili Oil

Add oil and chilies to a small sauce pan.  Turn the stove on, in between low and medium-low and let simmer for 20 minutes.  Remove from heat and let cool then pour into a jar.

The rest

Add the onion and 3 tablespoons of olive oil to a saute pan with and heat on medium-low heat.

Saute until really soft then add the wine and reduce until syrupy.

When the beans are cooked add onion mix, pesto sauce, Asiago, lemon juice and spices to the beans.

Asiago Crostini

Slice the bread into 1/2 inch slices.

Place slices onto a baking sheet and coat both sides with olive oil.  (I use a small pastry brush)

Place on the top shelf of the oven and broil for 1 – 2 minutes then flip them over and top with Asiago and broil for about 1 more minute or until cheese is melted.  Make sure and watch close, they can burn fast.

I usually put the timer on for 1 minute and check then put on for 1 more while watching.  They can cook faster on the 2nd side because they are already hot.

Sun-dried Tomato Pesto White Bean Soup Health Benefits:

White Beans are a super source of dietary fiber, which is good for the prevention of constipation, also helps digestive disorders like irritable bowel syndrome and diverticulosis. They are great for heart health because of their significant amounts of folate (support of red blood cell formation, one cup of the cooked beans provides 63.7% of the recommended daily intake for folate) and magnesium (lowers blood pressure). They are good for helping insulin resistance, hypoglycemia or diabetes, and help you balance blood sugar levels while providing steady energy.

Sun-Dried Tomatoes are very high in antioxidants; just one cup has 23 percent of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C and 16 percent of vitamin A.  The Vitamin C in dried tomatoes helps your body absorb the high iron content as well. They are high in potassium which helps prevent and lower high blood pressure. These tomatoes are very high in dietary fiber compared to raw tomatoes.

Fresh Basil has anti-aging, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.  The herb contains exceptionally high levels of beta-carotene and vitamin A and is rich in zeaxanthin an antioxidant that helps protect age-related macular disease.  It has a good amount of Iron and also helps to detoxify the liver.  It contains phytochemicals that may lower cortisol, a hormone secreted when you’re stressed that causes weight gain, so add some fresh basil to you water or tea.

Maple Roasted Fig Brie Crostini

These Fig Brie Crostini are a delectable treat that will surely impress your taste buds!  The savoriness of the brie adds the perfect balance to the sweetness from the roasted figs, pesto and walnuts.  You can prepare the roasted figs, pesto and walnuts a day ahead.  Then, all you have to do is toast the bread, assemble and pop them in the oven just as your guests arrive.  You will want 3 to 4 crostini per serving.

Fig Brie Crostini

It’s fig season and I have been on a major fig kick lately.  I am on a mission to redo photos from my old blog posts.  I don’t know if other bloggers do this, but I think each recipe deserves to have great photos.  I have been redoing fig photos over the past 2 weeks including my Roasted Figs in a Maple Wine Sauce,  Maple Roasted Fig Feta and Walnut Crostini,  Fresh Fig Pesto,  Fresh Figs topped with Fig Pesto and Caramelized Walnuts.  I really love creating new appetizers like these crostini that were born from a few of the above recipes.

Fig-Brie-Crostini

Serve these with some sparkling wine like a Prosecco, Cava, Rose’ or Txakoli.

Maple-Roasted-Fig-Brie-Crostini

Fig Brie Crostini Recipe:
3 to 4 servings
  • 12 Maple Roasted Figs Halves
  • 3/4 Cup Fresh Fig Pesto
  • 1/2 Cup Maple Caramelized Walnuts
  • 12 Slices of French Baguette
  • 1 Brie Cheese Wedge – 12 – 1/4 inch slices
Roasted Figs in a Maple Wine Sauce – (whole recipe)
  • 12 Medium Figs – cut off stems – cut in half
  • 2 Tablespoons Maple Syrup
  • 1 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Tablespoons Dry White Wine
  • 1/8 Teaspoon Pure Vanilla (optional)
  • 1/8 Teaspoon Sea Salt

Fresh Fig Pesto – (whole recipe)

  • 1/4 Cup Bucherondin de Chevre Cheese (Rind optional)
  • 1 1/4 Cups (about 7 to 8) Whole Fresh Black Mission Figs – stems removed – quartered
  • 1/2 Cup Raw Walnuts
  • 2 Tablespoons Virgin Coconut Oil
  • 2 to 3 Tablespoons Maple Syrup
Maple Caramelized Walnuts – (whole recipe)
  • 1/2 Cup Raw Walnuts – roughly chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon Pure Maple Syrup (Mildly sweet)
  • Pinch of Sea Salt
Crostini
  • 12 Slices of Italian Ciabatta or French Bread – 1/2 inch slices
  • Approx. 1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Instructions:

Roasted Figs in a Maple Wine Sauce

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.

Cut the stems off the figs and slice them in half.  In a 9×13″ baking dish, place the figs along the bottom..  In a small bowl mix the syrup, wine, oil, vanilla and salt together then drizzle the syrup mix over all the figs.

Put in oven on the middle shelf for 25 minutes.

Fresh Fig Pesto

 Cut the stems off the figs and add everything to a food processor or blender and puree.

Maple Caramelized Walnuts

Add everything in a saute pan and turn on stove to medium heat.

Stir the whole time.

In about 3 minutes they will start to get sticky. When all moisture is gone, turn off the heat.

Spread onto parchment paper or a baking sheet.  Don’t worry about them sticking together, when cooled you can separate them. Wait a until they are completely cooled.  They will hardened and become crystallized.

Crostini

Slice the bread into 1/2 inch slices.

Place slices on to a baking sheet and coat both sides with olive oil.

Place on the top shelf of the oven and broil for 1 – 2 minutes then flip them over and broil for about 1 more minute.  Make sure and watch close, they can burn fast.

I usually put the timer on for 1 minute and check then put on for 1 more while watching.  They cook faster on the 2nd side because they are already hot.

Assemble

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees

Spread about a tablespoon of pesto onto each crostini, top with a fig half and top with a piece of brie.  Put in the oven on the middle shelf for about 6 minutes.  Top them with the walnuts and serve.

*You can also drizzle a little the sauce from the figs over each crostini.

Maple-Roasted-Fig-with-Brie-Crostini

Health benefits:

Figs are high in potassium, which helps control high blood pressure. They have a high concentration of fiber that is helpful in digestion, weight management, constipation; helps prevent colon cancer, post-menopausal breast cancer, hypertension, and diabetes. The soluble fiber pectin, helps pull out excess cholesterol. They are also high in calcium that strengthens bones and help reduce macular degeneration. They are very high in antioxidants that are excellent for the liver.

Blueberry Chevre Crostini with Champagne Vinegar Hibiscus Flowers

This is a very unique  Blueberry Chevre Crostini appetizer!  The champagne vinegar soaked hibiscus flowers adds the perfect tang to the soft flavors of the chevre and the subtle sweetness of the blueberries.  Add all that onto a crunchy crostini and it’s outstanding!

 Blueberry Chevre Crostini

The 4th of July was always a big deal growing up in L.A.  A bunch of us would walk the beach from Santa Monica to Venice, from party to party, trying not to get hit by bottle rockets.  I remember the skies flooded with them.  It was kinda scary!  They don’t allow that anymore.

Blueberry-and-Hibiscus-Crostini

When I moved back to Venice for a few years in 2007, I did the 4th with at least 20 of our friends that all grew up together.  We were all on bikes crusin the boardwalk.  We rode to the Venice canals before the fireworks started and watched them from the top of a bridge with the best view.  It was always a lot of fun!

Blueberry-Vinegar-Hibiscus-Crostini

Tis the season for appetizers and with the 4th of July coming up, I can’t think of a better appetizer than this red, white and blue crostini.

Blueberry-Hibiscus-Flower-Crostini

For a festive wine, I would pair these crostini with a Prosecco or a Cava.

Vinegar Hibiscus Flowers

Blueberry Chevre Crostini Recipe:

12 Crostini

  • 12 Slices French Baguette
  • Approx. 5 oz. Chevre Goat Cheese – or to taste – room temperature
  • 1 Container Blueberries – 5 to 10 per crostini
  • 1/4 Cup Champagne Vinegar Soaked Hibiscus Flowers – or to taste 

Instructions:

Hibiscus Flowers

You will need to soak the hibiscus flowers in the vinegar for 4 days to a week. (I did a week) Follow this recipe.

 *You will have leftover hibiscus vinegar.  You could use the leftovers for salad dressings like this one.  You could also half the recipe.  Other uses for the leftover vinegar flowers would be as a topping on a sandwich, on a salad, or anywhere you would use any pickled vegetable.

Crostini

Slice the bread into 1/2 inch slices.

Place slices on to a baking sheet and coat both sides with olive oil.

Place on the top shelf of the oven and broil for 1 – 2 minutes then flip them over and broil for about 1 more minute.  Make sure and watch close, they can burn fast.

I usually put the timer on for 1 minute and check then put on for 1 more while watching.  They cook faster on the 2nd side because they are already hot.

Let cool.

 Assemble

Spread the chevre on to the crostini and top with the blueberries and vinegar flowers.  Serve as is or drizzle with maple syrup.   I sometimes put them in the toaster oven for a minute or so, which is also really good!

 

_Hibiscus-Blueberry-Crostini

Health benefits:

Hibiscus Flowers is a simple way to increase your antioxidant intake due to the high vitamin C content.  The antioxidant properties can help reverse the inflammatory process in your body and has the ability to lower high blood pressure.  It protects against chronic disease, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, and cancer.  It helps lower “bad” LDL cholesterol from the body, therefore it helps protect against heart disease and blood vessels from damage.

Blueberries are high in Vitamin C. They are a super food and are one of the highest in antioxidants compared to most fruits. They are a great source of fiber. The fiber helps reduce abdominal fat, lower cholesterol and helps lower glucose. They are great for brain health, reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and they are known to heal damaged brain cells. So they help you keep your memory intact.

 

Marinated Fresh Mozzarella in Tangerine Champagne Vinaigrette Crostini

This is a truly delightful and easy Marinated Fresh Mozzarella appetizer that is sure to impress!  I absolutely adore the simple yet extraordinary combination of tangerine with basil.  Add them to a toasty crostini or any crusty bread for that matter and I can’t get enough.

Marinated Fresh Mozzarella

My last post was on a marinated tomato salad.  I had leftover dressing from the marinated tomatoes so, I used it for this recipe.  You can either make the dressing just for this recipe or do like I did and get two for one.  This appetizer goes well with the marinated tomato salad as they both have the same marinade/dressing.  The next time we have guest, I am going to make both of these dishes and bring them down to the beach for a beach picnic.  Who’s in?

Marinated Fresh Mozzarella

I like a sparkling wine with this appetizer, like a Cava or a Prosecco.

Marinated Fresh Mozzarella

Marinated Fresh Mozzarella Marinated Fresh Mozzarella Recipe:
about 7 – 10 crostini
Mandarin Salt or plain Madron Salt – a pinch on top of each crostini

Whole batch

  • 1 box – (1 1/4 Cup) Maldon Salt
  • Zest of 4 – 8 Mandarin Oranges – depends on how much citrus you want (I used 5, which is mild)

Small batch

  • 1/4 Cup Maldon Salt
  • Zest of 1 – 2 Mandarin Orange
Instructions:
 
Marinade
Start by making the vinaigrette.
Slice the mozzarella balls 3/4 of the way through making sure not to cut all the way through the ball.  Or you can cut them in half if you prefer.  Add the cut mozzarella balls to the marinade and let marinate overnight or for at least four hours.

Mandarin Salt

Pre-heat oven to 225 degrees.
I included a whole recipe for the salt if you desire to use it on other dishes or you can make the smaller batch for this recipe only.
Zest the mandarins with a microplane, spread the zest out on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Take out and separate any clumps with your fingers and put back in for 5 additional minutes and then repeat separation of any remaining clumps and put back in for the final 2 minutes.
Put salt into food processor and pulse about 5 times to break it down just a bit.
Mix the zest with the salt.
The rest
Wash, dry and pick the basil leaves off of the stems.  You can
keep the leaves whole or chiffonade them.
Slice the baguette into 1/2 inch slices and follow this recipe.
You can either serve the marinated mozzarella and basil on the side and let your guest top their own crostini.  Or, top the crostini with two or three mozzarella balls and a few basil leaves.  (They stay on the crostini best when cut in half, but I like the way they look whole.)  Serve with a side of marinade to be drizzled on top or to dip the bread in.
Another option is to put the mozzarella balls on the crostini and stick it under the broiler for a minute to melt, then add the fresh basil leaves to serve.  Serve with a side of marinade to be drizzled on top or to dip the bread in.
*
 Health benefits:
Tangerines are a type of mandarin orange. They are a valuable source of flavonoid anti-oxidants that are several times higher than oranges, but have even more vitamin A and iron. The vitamin A in them helps with immune function, vision and reproductive health. As with all citrus they are still very rich in vitamin C that stimulates the production of collagen and helps keeps your skin supple as well as stimulating cell generation in the body. Antioxidants are found in high concentrations in the rind of tangerines, which fighting off free radicals keeping the body’s cells healthy while purifying the blood and remove toxins.  They contain natural soluble and insoluble fiber that improves digestion and restrict the absorption of cholesterol in the gut, which helps cut the risk of obesity and reduce inflammation. Tangerine fruit has been used effectively against skin diseases and arthritis. They also help to absorb iron from food in to the body and contain a good amount of Folate and Potassium.