07 December 2010

Crostini Misto

I may be home unable to speak with laryngitis  but that has left plenty time to catch up on reading my favourite food blogs. The peacefulness and absence of any interruptions has actually been quite wonderful and my mind is now buzzing with so much inspiration, I now need a month or 2 of Sundays just to cook.

In no particular order and if you are looking for all sorts of culinary inspiration check them out, there should be something in amongst them for everyone.

Happy reading.

Another week and another beautiful box of vegetables from Epicurean Supplies, though I must ask for no more kohlrabi as now have a little bit of a glut and even in my plethora of cook books and online I can only find one recipe - so any kohlrabi recipes out there please send them my way.  Also in this week's selection some beautiful cavalo nero.
Cavalo nero: Cavolo nero, or black cabbage, is a member of the brassica family. It has inky-green leaves and is great puréed and folded through pasta. It's also classically included in the Tuscan soup ribollita. It's a very versatile vegetable, which is just as well as Epicurean Supplies keep me in regular supply - they seem to be able to grow it all the time in the Hawke's Bay!  Best of all, it's very, very good for you.  It is packed full of nutrients and rich in antioxidants that have many health benefits. It contains vitamins K, A and C and all the B vitamins, copper, fibre, calcium, magnesium, folate iron.
So browsing through recipes came across some Crostini Misto from Mario Batali.  He really does simple Italian so well.  These just looked so vibrant I couldn't resist giving them a go.  A few seasonal ingredients, seasoned well and wow, the flavours just sing.  This would make a vibrant entree or could feed a crowd and all the toppings could be made ahead and popped on the crostini just before serving. And even though it seems like a lot of ingredients it came together very quickly.

Crostini Misto, courtesy of the wonderful orange croc wearing chap.


Serves 12

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus 4 tablespoons, plus 2 tablespoons, plus 2 tablespoons
1 small red onion, finely diced
2 red bell peppers, cored and seeded, and chopped into 1/2-inch dice
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano leaves
Salt and pepper
½ head cavolo nero or kale, stalks removed and roughly chopped
1 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
¼ lb. prosciutto, cut into 1/4-inch dice
½ lb. porcinis or portobellos, stems removed
4 sage leaves, cut into chiffonade
2 leeks, cleaned and cut into 1/4-inch thick rings
½ bunch mint, leaves only
1 loaf Italian stirato, or baguette, cut into 1/2-inch slices, on bias


In a 12 to 14-inch saute pan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add the red onion and cook for 5 minutes, until soft and translucent. Add the red peppers, thyme, and oregano and saute over high heat for five more minutes, until the peppers and onions are very soft. Remove from heat, season with salt and pepper and set aside.

In the same 12 to 14-inch saute pan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil until smoking. Add the cavolo nero and the pepper flakes and cook until wilted and soft, about 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, place the cabbage mixture into a bowl, stir in prosciutto pieces, and set aside.
Place the mushrooms on a sheet tray and drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, place in oven and roast for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Chop the mushrooms into 1/4-inch cubes and place into a bowl with the juices that have exuded during cooking. Add the sage, season with salt and pepper, and set aside.
In a 12 to 14-inch saute pan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat until smoking. Add the leeks and cook, stirring occasionally, until the leeks are very soft and translucent, about 8 or 9 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool in a bowl. Tear the mint leaves by hand and add to leeks. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
Preheat the grill or broiler. Grill or toast bread for 2 minutes, until browned and firm. Taste each of the mixtures for seasoning and moisten any that may be dry with a little extra-virgin olive oil and a squeeze of a lemon. Top each piece of toast with a heaping tablespoon of any of the mixtures and serve immediately.  I tray baked mine in the oven, drizzle with a little olive oil and  5-10 minutes at 190C.  Be sure to put the timer on, otherwise like me you may well forget about them until the smell of burnt toast wafts out of the oven!  I then cut a garlic clove in half and gave them all a little rub.
These were delicious, sorry no other word will do.  Firstly the cavalo nero.  It retained a little texture and that almost bitter green taste that I love and then a fair bit of heat from the chilli, I used a large pinch, and who doesn't love  prosciutto? The saltiness and chewiness work so well with the flavour and texture of the cavalo nero.

The mushrooms and the sage, what an amazing combination, the meatiness of the mushrooms and the savoury sweetness of the sage just heaven.  This was the absolute stand out for me.  The peppers were also bursting with flavour with the thyme and oregano coming through and marrying so well with the sweetness of the peppers.  Last but not least the leeks, fresh and vibrant with the fresh mint and I added just a little splash of sherry vinegar.

This one is a keeper, thanks Mario.



  1. Great post, but you missed my favourite food blog of all time. www.smittenkitchen.com

  2. Hi AJ - Smitten Kitchen right in there at No 2...love it! Can't wait to see her cookbook.


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