One of my favorite parts about having a dinner party is the part before dinner, just after everyone has arrived. I like to have Mark pour drinks for everyone -- nothing too heavy in the summer, so chilled glasses of vinho verde or maybe Campari sodas -- while I take a couple of minutes to put together something to snack on before the main course. I really love when everyone is hanging out in the dining area outside the kitchen so I can take part in the chatting, drinking, and nibbling while I finish dinner.
We had friends over in the middle of the week for dinner and, for a pre-dinner treat, I decided to riff on the tomatoes I posted about last time. I really liked the way these bites turned out, so I thought I should blog about them, even though these are almost too simple for words.
You begin by toasting thin slices of crusty bread, like a baguette or a boule. You spread the bread with really fresh, mild ricotta. (We used a sheep's milk ricotta from a local producer with a pure milky flavor and smooth texture. The kind in a plastic tub from a grocery store doesn't really cut it -- instead, make your own or use a young goat cheese instead.) Sprinkle kosher salt and ground black pepper on the cheese. Finally, top some of the crostini with oven roasted tomatoes and the rest with thinly sliced Easter egg radishes. Finishing touch: basil, sliced in thin ribbons and scattered all over as a garnish. Fresh and tasty and pretty, too.
[Crostini with oven roasted tomatoes, ricotta, basil; crostini with easter egg radishes, salted butter]
These are two fairly basic combinations that are, in my opinion, elevated by the use of super fresh ingredients. Another favorite is ricotta piled with finely grated lemon zest and a drizzle of honey. Or, radishes would be amazing on bread smeared with sweet butter and a heavy sprinkling of fleur de sel.
I hope some of you will tell me about your favorite pre-dinner snacks, especially those using the summer fruits and vegetables piling up in the market.
Related posts: oven roasted tomatoes