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Tomato and Mushroom Crostini

Tomato and Mushroom Crostini

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Serves 10 to 12.
By Dennis W. Viau; one of my original ideas.

This crostini is so delicious, if I serve it as an appetizer before a meal, the dinner pales by comparison. I think this crostini is best served at a picnic or barbecue, or as a hearty snack when the guys come over to watch a football game. This recipe makes a lot, enough to serve a small crowd.

Ingredients:

1½ pounds (680g) fresh cremini mushrooms (or other mushrooms you might prefer)
¼ cup (60ml) olive oil, more as needed
¼ cup (60ml) clarified butter, more as needed (regular butter is okay)
2 pounds (900g) fresh Roma tomatoes, about 10 to 12 if large
¼ cup (60ml) dry white wine
Optional: 1 anchovy fillet
¼ teaspoon dry oregano flakes
¼ cup (60ml) extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup (1 ounce/30g) freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Two French baguettes (about 10 ounces/300g each)

Directions:

Clean and coarsely chop the mushrooms. Heat the olive oil and clarified butter in a large skillet over medium heat and sauté mushrooms in batches, enough to fill the bottom of the skillet, about 5 minutes, until tender. Place the cooked mushrooms in a small colander over a bowl to capture the juice. Reserve any juices that collect in the bottom of the skillet. When all the mushrooms are cooked, return the juices to the skillet and add the white wine with the oregano (and optional anchovy). Bring to a boil over medium heat (breaking up the anchovy, if used) and boil until the volume is reduced to less than half, thereby making a reduction sauce.

Meanwhile, bring several cups of water to a boil in a saucepan, enough to submerge the tomatoes. Cut an X in the bottom of each tomato and lower, a few at a time, into the boiling water and allow to cook for about 10 to 15 seconds. Remove and plunge in a bowl of very cold water (iced water works well) to cool. Peel the skin from the tomatoes and cut in half (along the equator, not top to bottom). Gently squeeze out the seeds and discard, or remove the seeds with a small knife. Chop the tomato flesh coarsely.

Combine the mushrooms, sauce, and tomatoes with the olive oil and grated cheese. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Mix well.

Cut the baguettes in half lengthwise, separating top from bottom, or cut at an angle in slices. Arrange on a baking sheet and toast under a broiler until lightly browned. Cut into serving-size pieces (if not using slices), about 3 to 4 inches (8 to 10cm) in length and arrange on a platter with the bowl of mushroom-tomato topping. Allow guests to serve themselves, spooning topping onto the toasted bread crostini.