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The Charm of Crostini

June 18, 1997|MARY CARROLL | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES; Carroll is the author of the "No Cholesterol (No Kidding!) Cookbook" (Rodale Press, 1991)

Crostini, as many know, are thrifty Italian treats that use leftover bread. They differ from bruschetta in that they are thinner and are baked instead of grilled. Bruschetta reminds me of the best buttery garlic toast, and crostini are like crisp croutons. Bruschetta should be eaten hot, straight from the grill; crostini can be held for several hours after crisping and are perfect for parties.

Make crostini with leftover ends of bread loaves or with your favorite country or peasant-style whole grain bread. Cut the loaves into slices about 1/2 inch thick and arrange on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake the bread slices at 350 degrees until just golden, about 15 minutes. If the bread was made with a lot of fat, the crostini will brown quickly, so keep your eye on them.

The charm of crostini lies in their crisp exteriors and slightly soft interiors, so don't let the bread crisp all the way through. While they're still warm, lightly brush the slices with olive oil and rub with garlic if you like.

You can store crostini in an airtight container for up to a week. Top right before serving.


4 heads garlic

1 teaspoon olive oil

1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh herbs (such as thyme or basil)


8 slices bread, toasted

Trim tops of garlic heads with sharp knife or scissors, exposing soft cloves just at tips. Brush outside of heads with olive oil and place on foil-lined baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees until very soft, 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Squeeze garlic out of browned skins into small bowl. Add herbs and dash salt and mash well. Spread on toasted bread.

8 crostini. Each crostini:

49 calories; 101 mg sodium; 0 cholesterol; 1 gram fat; 9 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams protein; 0.38 gram fiber.


1/2 cup diced tomatoes

1/2 cup diced roasted red bell peppers

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon olive oil

1 teaspoon lemon or lime juice

8 basil leaves, chopped

Salt, pepper

8 slices bread, toasted

Combine tomatoes, peppers, garlic, oil, lemon juice, basil and salt and pepper to taste in small bowl. Let stand at room temperature until flavors blend, about 30 minutes, stirring often. Spoon on toasted bread.

8 crostini. Each crostini:

36 calories; 99 mg sodium; 0 cholesterol; 1 gram fat; 7 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram protein; 0.30 gram fiber.


8 slices bread, toasted

1 large plum tomato, cut into 8 thin slices

8 basil leaves, shredded

1 cup reduced-fat shredded mozzarella cheese

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Arrange toasted bread on broiler pan or baking sheet. Top each with tomato slice and basil. Sprinkle with mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. Broil until cheese melts, 1 to 2 minutes.

8 crostini. Each crostini:

73 calories; 173 mg sodium; 8 mg cholesterol; 3 grams fat; 6 grams carbohydrates; 5 grams protein; 0.22 gram fiber.

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