One of the greatest things about food in Italy is the invention of the crostini. Crostini are basically just finger foods, and therefore can be eaten really at any time of day without the looming threat of a brutta figura or giving off the wrong impression. Your basis for crostini is some sort of good, crunchy bread. The size and shape of the bread is totally up to you–I like to make my crostini either on a large oval-shaped piece of toasted pane toscana (the typical Florentine salt-less bread) if there is going to be a lot of flavor in the toppings, or if it’s something more simple like a basic bruschetta al pomodoro I might switch to a more rustic French baguette sliced into little discs.
Anyway, you really don’t want to skimp on the bread–get a good solid type of bread that will stand up to your crostini’s toppings. It will totally change your perpective if you get the fresh, homemade casalinga stuff from your local bakery.
Then comes the toppings: For this recipe, I used salsiccia & gorgonzola cheese, with some sliced caramelized onions thrown on top for good measure. The earthiness of the Tuscan sausage mixed with the tang of blue cheese and sweetness of the onions makes for a heavenly combination of flavors. Trust me, it will change your life.
Now a lot of people might question this method of cooking, but for me, I like to stick to doing things the way the Tuscans do it. Which means we’re gonna eat our salsiccia raw, people. E buono, ti giuro! It’s good, I swear. If you’re totally skeeved out by the thought of eating raw meat, then you can stick yours underneath a hot grill to heat up the meat and melt the cheese all at the same time. It’s totally up to you.
2 slices of fresh Tuscan bread (long, oval slices)
1 Italian sausage from your local butcher (even better if it’s seasoned with herbs)
80-100 grams of cheese (suggested: gorgonzola, stracchino, taleggio, pecorino)
A drizzle of balsalmic vinegar glaze, or crema di aceto balsalmico
Salt and pepper
1 medium-sized yellow onion
1 small pat of butter for cooking onion
1 spoonful of brown sugar, cane sugar or regular sugar (whatever’s available)
Good quality olive oil
Take your two slices of fresh bread and put them underneath a heat source to toast them (you can also grill either side or just put them in the oven for a bit). While your bread is toasting, grab a small saucepan and throw the onions in with a bit of butter and brown sugar to caramelize for about 10-15 minutes. Meanwhile, unwrap the sausage from its plastic casing and put it into a little bowl. Add a pinch of salt and pepper, and a drizzle of good-quality olive oil and mix together to form a paste. Once your bread is toasted, spread a generous portion of the sausage mixture onto the slice. Gently spread a bit of cheese over the top of the sausage and top with a sprinkle of caramelized onion and a drizzle of balsalmic vinegar glaze.
And enjoy the shit out of that, cause I just made myself so hungry that I am going to eat some crostini as soon as I get off work tonight because ITALY RULES! LONG LIVE CROSTINI!