I heard about Polenta Crostini while I was planning this year’s Holiday Feast. I thought, they would make a great little treat, just right to make everyone a bit hungrier than they already were. They’re made from twice-backed polenta, fresh herbs and ricotta and shiitake bacon.
Unfortunately, I forgot to add the shiitake-bacon – I had made it and chopped it, and then, when the time came, I forgot that it every existed. No matter! I used it as garnish for our salads, which was also great! But I’m sure it would have been quite a cherry on top of an already amazing appetizer if I hadn’t forgotten… Next time!
I had never made Polenta Crostini before, but I assure you, that I will be making these again. They are amazing in taste and texture. Also, I love treats which you can prepare a bit ahead of time and then only have to assemble prior to serving. Next time, I’m making them with eggplant and tomato caponata…
Ingredients (for 16 triangular Crostini)
1 medium cup instant polenta
1,5 cups water
½ tsp salt
1 tbsp butter
1 chunk parmigiano (grated)
olive oil or butter (for brushing your Crostini prior to toasting them for the second time)
1 cup finely chopped fresh herbs, e.g. basil, tarragon, mint and parsley
salt and pepper to taste
Shiitake bacon (made from 5 shiitake mushrooms, butter, salt and pepper)
Bring the water to a boil in a small pot. Add the polenta and stir well. Cook the polenta on medium heat (while stirring every once in a while) until it is done. Add the butter and the grated parmigiano.
Turn on your oven to 200°C.
Line a baking tin with backing parchment. Spread cooked polenta out over baking parchment and with the help of a spatula form the batter into a more or less even square. Place polenta into oven and bake for about twenty minutes, until a thin crust has formed.
If you are smart and energy-efficient, this is the time to make your shiitake-bacon (not pictured). Take about ten tiny or five medium shiitake mushrooms and place them into a small oven-proof dish. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and butter. Bake in your oven until they have shriveled up and gotten kind of crispy (please don’t burn them!). You can see them in the back of the picture below. 😉Remove polenta from oven and allow to cool. You can now cut the polenta into whatever shape you please. I thought triangles to be the best possible shape for our needs, but you can obviously cut them into Christmas trees or other fun shapes using a cookie cutter. You can keep your crostini in a closed plastic container in your fridge overnight if you want, but you should leave them there at least a few hours.
Place ricotta into a medium bowl. Finely chop of the fresh herbs. Add them to the ricotta, season with salt and pepper and mix well. You can also, for a special tribute to The Grinch, use a handheld blender and run it through the ricotta-herb-mix, creating a green cream. I suggest you do this particularly, if you plan on running your ricotta-herb-mix through a cookie maker or pastry bag in order to give it a nice shape. I had to give up on this plan, because the herbs got stuck in opening of the cookie maker, as I had not chopped them fine enough, so I ended up spooning the ricotta-herb hats onto the crostini later on, because I had no time to rush a handheld blender through the cream. You can keep the ricotta-herb-topping in your fridge overnight, too, but I suggest taking it out an hour prior you plan to prepare the crostini, because you want the ricotta cream to be cold-ish, but close to room temperature.
To finish the polenta crostini:
Line a baking tin with baking parchment and place your refrigerated polenta crostini on it. Brush your crostini with olive oil or melted butter using a brush. Broil crostini at 220°C in your oven for about twenty minutes. They should be really hot and somewhat crispy.
Remove crostini from oven, set on a dish you’ll serve them on. Top each crostini with a ricotta-herb hat (using either a spoon or a pastry bag) and then sprinkle each crostini with a bit of shiitake-bacon (like I said, I totally forgot this!). Serve right away.