My favorite part of culinary school is when our teachers would say, “no recipes, make what tastes good”. A free for all in the kitchen to create new flavor profiles and expand your palate. One of the basics for making a great dish of any kind is variety in texture, temperature, and taste. This Goat Cheese and Walnut Crostini was one of my first successful attempts at combining a variety of these elements. Warm and sweet raisin crostini are complemented by tangy goat cheese which is infused with orange zest and rosemary. Spicy and crunch are added to the mix with the addition of walnuts that are candied in paprika and cayenne pepper. The mix is unusual but palate pleasing. Just a little goes a long way and will have your guests begging for more.
Makes: 2 dozen crostini
Prep Time: 25 minutes Total Time: 25 minutes
1 small loaf of raisin toast, cut into 12 slices
1 cup goat cheese, room temperature
3/4 cup whole walnuts
1 orange, zest and juice
1 tbs fresh rosemary, minced
1 tbs honey
1/2 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbs vegetable oil
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp brown sugar
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spray a large cookie sheet with cooking spray.
- Cut the toasts in half vertically to make crostini (roughly 2 bite pieces). Lay the crostini in a single layer and bake in the oven for 10 minutes or so, until the toasts are crunchy. When the crostini is finished, remove from the oven.
- While the crostini is cooking, mix together the goat cheese, orange zest and juice, rosemary, honey, cardamom, and salt in a medium sized bowl. Depending on the texture of the goat cheese, this may need to be done with a hand mixer. Whip until the goat cheese is light and fluffy. Set aside, covered, in the refrigerator.
- In a separate bowl, combine the vegetable oil, paprika, cayenne, and brown sugar. Add the walnuts and mix with your hands until they are coated evenly.
- Heat a sauce pan on medium-low heat and add the walnuts. Cook until they are lightly toasted- only 3-4 minutes- and be careful not to burn them! After they are toasted, remove from the pan immediately onto a cutting board. Roughly chop them and season lightly with salt.
- You can assemble the crostini completely yourself, or arrange on a cheese board for guests to assemble (as shown).