Grilled Zucchini Crostini

Grilled Zucchini Crostini | Cravings & Crumbs

Summer is here and with it comes a bounty of produce.  Although my zucchini plant is just at the blossoming stage now, I know that one day i’ll blink my eyes and suddenly i’ll have more squash than I know what to do with.  So, before we get to that desperate stage when we have zucchini coming out our ears, I present to you this simple and delicious grilled zucchini crostini.

Grilled Zucchini Crostini | Cravings & Crumbs

These crostini are are great as a party snack and are particularly delicious with salty olives and a glass of wine.  We start by slicing the zucchini into ribbons and grilling them to get a little char and smokiness.  This can be done on the grill if you already have it lit, but I cooked mine in a grill pan on the stove and they were great.  Once the zucchini are cooked we briefly marinate them in balsamic vinegar to add sweetness and tang.

Grilled Zucchini Crostini | Cravings & Crumbs

Picking our bread is important here since not only is it the base of our entire dish, but since there are so few ingredients we want to pick each one with care.  Any good bread that you like will work, but try to pick one that will be nicely crunchy once toasted, so stay away from whole wheat and sandwich loaves.  A country style loaf or focaccia would be particularly nice here.  I used a rosemary focaccia for an extra layer of flavor.

Grilled Zucchini Crostini | Cravings & Crumbs

Once we have our zucchini cooked and bread toasted, we’re ready to assemble the crostini.  Drizzle the toasts with a good quality olive oil — or may I suggest the oil from garlic confit?  Then layer some torn fresh mozzarella and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Add a few zucchini ribbons on top and season with another small pinch of salt and some red pepper flakes.

Grilled Zucchini Crostini | Cravings & Crumbs

Zucchini and fresh mozzarella have delicate flavors, so if you want you can add a leaf of fresh basil and a drizzle of balsamic glaze for an extra pop.  You should also feel free use any cheese or other toppings you like.  I think goat cheese and prosciutto would be a welcome spin here.

Grilled Zucchini Crostini | Cravings & Crumbs

Grilled Zucchini Crostini
Yields 8
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Ingredients
  1. 3 zucchini (about 1 lb)
  2. Olive oil
  3. 2 T. balsamic vinegar
  4. Kosher salt
  5. Pepper
  6. Red pepper flakes
  7. 4 oz fresh mozzarella
  8. 1 clove garlic
  9. Good bread such as country loaf or focaccia
Instructions
  1. Slice zucchini lengthwise into strips about ½ cm thick. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Heat a grill pan or grill over high heat and sear zucchini until it slightly chars on the edges, flipping halfway through. Remove to a plate or bowl and toss with the balsamic vinegar.
  2. Slice bread into appetizer sized portions (about 2” x 2”). Toast until just golden brown on the edges and immediately rub with the cut side of a halved garlic clove.
  3. Drizzle the toasts with olive oil, layer some hand torn mozzarella, season with a sprinkle of salt, then top with 2 folded over zucchini strips. Season with another sprinkle of salt and crushed red pepper flakes.
Notes
  1. Feel free to get creative with the toppings - different cheeses, charcuterie, fresh herbs and extra vinegar would be all be great here.
Cravings & Crumbs http://www.cravingsandcrumbs.com/
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Fig and Arugula Grilled Cheese

Fig Arugula Grilled Cheese | Cravings & Crumbs

I was recently perusing the online menus of restaurants near my work, trying to quiet my hunger, when something jumped out at me – “best ever slow-cooked grilled cheese”.  Ummm, what?  What in the world is a slow cooked grilled cheese, how does it differ from how I normally make grilled cheese, and why had nobody ever told me about this?

Fig Arugula Grilled Cheese | Cravings & Crumbs

According to my research, all that makes it a “slow-cooked” grilled cheese is that it takes 15 minutes to come to the table.  Generally when I make grilled cheese at home I take about 10 to 12 minutes, so really no revelation there. They use three cheeses (and a lot of them), including one called “dry jack”.  Back to feeling out of the loop.  Apparently dry jack was created in the 50’s, before the proliferation of modern refrigeration, as an alternative to monterey jack that could stand to be left out in the summer.  It has a texture like parmesan and a sweet flavor.

Fig Arugula Grilled Cheese | Cravings & Crumbs

They also include a seasonal fruit mostarda on the sandwich, which intrigued me.  I haven’t ever been one to really love fruit condiments on savory food, but ever since I tried the duck and pork belly sausage from SF Cajun Co. that they serve with fig preserves and whole grain mustard I haven’t been able to get that combo out of the back of my mind.

Fig Arugula Grilled Cheese | Cravings & Crumbs

All of this is just a long winded way of explaining how I got to this delicious grilled cheese sandwich.  Using fresh levain bread, we spread some fig butter on one side and whole grain mustard on the other.  We’re using syrah-soaked toscano and a gouda/parmesan blend as the cheese here and adding a layer of arugula to the middle, which will wilt as we cook the sandwich.  In a cast iron skillet (for even heat distribution) we grill the sandwich over medium-low heat, hopefully getting about 7 minutes per side without burning.  Cut it diagonally and you have perfection.

Fig Arugula Grilled Cheese | Cravings & Crumbs

What we end up with isn’t the “best ever” grilled cheese – that’s far too subjective – but I’ll be damned if it isn’t in the top 3.  The bread has a perfectly buttery and crunchy exterior.  Inside, the cheeses are salty and gooey with a nutty flavor profile which pairs perfectly with the deep flavor of the fig butter and sharpness of the mustard.  I preferred mine with an extra dollop of mustard on the side to pick up the flavor a bit more.

Fig Arugula Grilled Cheese | Cravings & Crumbs

Fig and Arugula Grilled Cheese
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Ingredients
  1. Butter, room temperature
  2. Good bread, such as pain au levain
  3. Fig butter or preserves
  4. Whole grain mustard
  5. Toscano cheese
  6. Gouda/parmesan blend cheese, or both separately
  7. Baby arugula
Instructions
  1. Slice your bread and grate the cheese. You want to grate enough to have an even proportion of each type.
  2. Preheat a heavy cast iron pan over medium heat. We don’t want it too hot since we want to grill the sandwich slowly to get it evenly browned all across.
  3. Butter the outside of each slice of bread. Then smear a layer of mustard on one of the insides and a layer of fig butter on the other inside.
  4. Put one slice of bread in the pan, butter side down. Sprinkle half the cheese over the bread, then add a handful of arugula and then sprinkle the other half of the cheese and top with the other slice of bread, butter side up. Cook the sandwich for about 7 minutes, or until golden brown, turning down the heat if it seems to be cooking too fast. Flip and toast the other side until golden brown.
Notes
  1. Feel free to use any combination of cheese that you like. Just be sure that there's one that will melt well to hold it all together.
Cravings & Crumbs http://www.cravingsandcrumbs.com/
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Lomo Saltado

Lomo Saltado

On paper Peruvian cuisine is confusing.  The Incas cultivated potatoes, quinoa, and dried beef (yes, beef jerky); the Spanish brought olives and rice; Africans made frying foods more popular;  Chinese immigrants brought soy sauce, ginger, and stir-frying methods; Italians brought pasta…the list goes on.  What you end up with are dishes like aji de gallina (a creamy chicken stew made with walnuts, hard boiled eggs and black olives), tallarines verde (spaghetti with a pesto sauce made with basil, spinach, and queso fresco) with a side of pollo saltado (a chinese chicken stir fry dish), and of course Lomo Saltado, a beef stir fry with french fries mixed in.

Lomo Saltado

Like I said, these dishes don’t sound cohesive, but there’s just something about Peruvian food, that however strange the dishes sound on the menu, once you take the first bite you’re blown away.  Somehow the flavors just work together, as if you took your favorite elements from each cuisine and mashed them up into something amazing.   Read More

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Spiced Pita Burgers with Garlic Yogurt Sauce

Spiced Pita Burgers

Ah, finally, something on this blog that can actually be called dinner…

These pita burgers are absolutely delicious and a perfectly unambitious weeknight dinner with flavor that will make people think you worked hard.  With essentially 4 steps (mix the meat, mix the sauce, stuff the pitas, and cook) you can pull this one off in about 40 minutes or less if you play your cards right. The best part, though?  You can make these ahead through any step and save them for later.  You can mix the meat and/or the sauce the night before and stuff and cook when you get home from work the next day.  These even reheat really well in the toaster oven so you could make the whole recipe ahead and heat them up later. Read More

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