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.
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Shaved Asparagus Brunch Salad

Asparagus Brunch Salad | Cravings & Crumbs

With asparagus in season, so flavorful and plentiful, I’ve been buying so much I’ve been forced to come up with new ways to use it all!  I’m definitely not complaining though, as the necessity led to this brunch salad.  

Asparagus Brunch Salad | Cravings & Crumbs

A salad for brunch might seem strange, but hear me out.  Brunch is usually a pretty heavy meal, which is a great, but eat too much and you can count on hours of feeling sluggish and sleepy.  This breakfast is light and healthy, with just enough richness to keep you satisfied until lunch.  Since you’ll feel great after eating it, you’ll have all the energy to go take a hike, explore a new flea market, or whatever other fun plans you have for the day!  For those of you who think it’s not really brunch unless there are mimosas, well, there’s champagne here, it’s just in vinegar form in the dressing…

Asparagus Brunch Salad | Cravings & Crumbs

The dressing is based off of a warm bacon dressing you would normally put on a spinach salad.  Personally, a leafy salad isn’t appetizing for me first thing in the morning, but the shaved asparagus is tender with a little bite – perfect.  Add pancetta to the mix for that classic breakfast flavor combo, so feel free to substitute bacon.  The poached egg on top adds the final layer of creaminess to the salad as the yolk mixes with the dressing.  

Asparagus Brunch Salad | Cravings & Crumbs

Poached eggs have a reputation for being intimidating, but they shouldn’t be.  At home there’s no need for adding vinegar or constantly swirling your water.  An old friend taught me a trick of boiling water, talking it off the heat, immediately dropping the egg in and covering the pan for 5 or so minutes.  That’s the method I use in the recipe below, but there are lots of other great methods to poach an egg.  If you want more guidance, I found this video by Kenji Lopez-Alt to be really helpful, although I don’t follow all his suggestions.  If you want to cook your eggs in the shell, but still want a perfectly runny yolk, use David Chang’s 5:10 method:  Bring a pot of water to a boil, take an egg straight from the refrigerator and put it in the water and boil for exactly 5 minutes and 10 seconds.  The fact that refrigerators are all within a few degree of each other and water boils at 212°F removes any variation in starting temperature so you can get a perfect egg every time without the guesswork.

Asparagus Brunch Salad | Cravings & Crumbs

Shaved Asparagus Brunch Salad
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Ingredients
  1. 5 fat asparagus spears
  2. 1 small clove garlic, peeled and minced
  3. ⅓ of a medium red onion, peeled and slivered
  4. 1 large egg
  5. 2 heaping T diced pancetta
  6. 2 T champagne vinegar
  7. 1 T olive oil
  8. Salt and pepper to taste
  9. Crushed red pepper flakes
  10. 1-2 slices of your favorite toast (mine is Acme pain au levain)
Instructions
  1. Using a vegetable peeler shave the asparagus into ribbons, saving the tops. The easiest way to do this is to keep the spear flat on a cutting board or countertop as you shave. Place the shavings on whatever bowl or plate you’ll use to serve, and save the tops for later.
  2. Begin bringing a small pot of water to a boil and simultaneously preheat a small frying pan over medium heat on a separate burner. Crack your egg into a small cup or ramekin. Once the water is rapidly boiling, remove the pan from the heat and immediately drop the egg into the water and cover with a lid. Set a timer for 5 minutes.
  3. Into the frying pan add the pancetta, asparagus tops, and half the slivered onions. Saute until pancetta is just starting to get crispy and the asparagus tops are tender, about 4 mins.
  4. When your timer rings, use a slotted spoon to remove the egg from the water. The white of the egg should be taught, the yolk should not feel firm, and overall the egg shouldn’t be too jiggly, which would indicate that the whites aren’t fully cooked. When your egg is done remove to a paper towel.
  5. Turn your attention back to the frying pan and add the vinegar, olive oil, a pinch of salt and the remaining onion slivers. Cook briefly, about 30 seconds. (Note: if you substituted bacon omit the olive oil, as bacon has more natural grease than pancetta.) Pour the hot vinaigrette over the shaved asparagus and toss to coat. Add the poached egg on top and season the entire dish with another sprinkling of salt, freshly ground black pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes. Serve with toast.
Cravings & Crumbs http://www.cravingsandcrumbs.com/
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Homemade Garlic Croutons

Homemade Garlic Croutons | Cravings & Crumbs

Are you looking for a way to seriously improve your salad game?  Swapping storebought for homemade dressing is the first thing you should do.  The second is making your own croutons.

Homemade Garlic Croutons | Cravings & Crumbs

Homemade croutons are far better than any you can get at the grocery store.  Making them yourself also allows you to add any seasoning you like and use up any bread that is going stale or is close to getting moldy.  Not to mention it doesn’t require any skill and very little time.  

Homemade Garlic Croutons | Cravings & Crumbs

All you have to do is cube the bread, toss with oil and seasonings and bake for about 20 minutes.  Just be sure you make at least double what you think you need.  Almost every time I make them people gravitate toward the kitchen and slowly snack on them as dinner is being finished.  They’re so irresistible you might have to set aside what you actually want to put in the salad to make sure you have enough!

Homemade Garlic Croutons | Cravings & Crumbs

You can use any bread you have around, but they’ll be best with a bread that has a good crust.  I usually make them with baguette, french bread, and sourdough.  I would avoid any bread that is too sweet, like a whole wheat sandwich loaf, or too dense.  Of course, it really depends on what salad you’re going to put them on!  I’ve seen salads with cornbread croutons which are both sweet and dense, so really anything goes if it tastes good with your other ingredients!

Homemade Garlic Croutons | Cravings & Crumbs

Homemade Garlic Croutons
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Total Time
30 min
Total Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. 6 oz. stale bread
  2. 1 garlic clove, peeled
  3. 2 T olive oil
  4. 1 T vegetable oil
  5. ½ t. garlic powder
  6. ½ t. dried basil
  7. 1 small pinch red pepper flakes
  8. salt & pepper
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 350°.
  2. Cube or tear your bread into about ½” cubes. Press, mince, or grate the garlic clove into a medium sized bowl and add the oils. Add the bread to the bowl and toss to coat. Sprinkle seasonings on top and toss again to coat.
  3. Spread croutons on a small baking tray and bake for about 20-30 minutes, tossing ¾ of the way through, until golden brown. If the croutons look very dry when you toss them, feel free to add an extra drizzle of oil before returning them to the oven.
Notes
  1. These measurements are just a guideline. Feel free to use more bread, oil, or different seasonings. This is just a very basic version of the croutons I make. I switch everything up depending on the salad and my mood.
Cravings & Crumbs http://www.cravingsandcrumbs.com/
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Easy Rosemary Focaccia

There’s really nothing like a warm loaf of bread fresh out of the oven.  Once the smell of this focaccia baking fills the kitchen, no one can resist taking a bite of the warm, tender bread with an olive-oil crisped bottom.  While professional bakeries can make some truly amazing loaves using starters that have been kept going for years and steam injected ovens, there are some breads that are just made for home bakers.  Focaccia is one of the first breads I baked by myself and continues to be a favorite of mine.  

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