Crostini? Bruschetta? Toasts? Both crostini and bruschetta are Italian terms for crispy slices of bread (the former actually translates to "little toasts") that are used as a base for canapés, savory spreads, vegetables, or cheeses. Technically, bruschetta is made with thick farmers’ bread that’s roasted over coals and rubbed with garlic, but since the two terms have been widely adopted internationally, you can feel confident that no matter what you call them, these crispy breads are ideal finger food and a perfect palette for cheese, mushrooms, seafood, or shaved meat. Serve these toasts with goat cheese and fig compote or one of the variations that follow.
1/2 cup/60 g chopped dried figs
1/4 cup//60 g light brown sugar
1 cup/250 mldry red wine
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
Pinch of sea salt
3 tablespoons olive oil
One 8-ounce/225 g French bread or sourdough baguette
8 ounces/225 g goat’s cheese
To make the compote: Combine the figs, sugar, wine, thyme, and salt in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes, or until thickened. Let cool to room temperature. (Can be made 1 day ahead, covered and chilled; bring back to room temperature before serving.)
Preheat the broiler. Cut the bread on the diagonal into 24 slices. Brush both sides with olive oil. Place on a rimmed baking sheet and broil for 1 to 2 minutes on each side, or until lightly browned. To serve, spread each toast with goat’s cheese and top with a spoonful of the compote.
VARIATIONS: Goat‘s Cheese Crostini with Walnuts, Rosemary, and Honey: Grill bread as above and spread with goat’s cheese. Sprinkle 1/2 cup/60g chopped walnuts and 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary on top. Heat 1/3 cup/75 ml honey in a small saucepan for about 2 minutes, or until warm. Drizzle over the toasts.
Blue Cheese and Fig Bruschettas with Balsamic Glaze: Grill bread as above. Rub one side of each toast with a peeled garlic clove and spread with softened blue cheese. Top with thinly sliced fresh figs and drizzle with balsamic vinegar glaze. (You can purchase the syrupy vinegar or make your own by cooking a cup of balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan for 15 to 20 minutes, or until reduced by half).