Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Warmed Blue Cheese and Apricot Crostini with an Arugula Drizzle

Memories are an incredible thing. Some come through as snapshots, quick glimpses back in time, others play out like a movie, every detail captured. Some though surface as feelings, the details of events foggy, but the emotions real and present. I find that most often these types of memories are triggered by a scent or a taste.

I was very fortunate to travel to Italy when I was a little girl. My memories are scattered from this trip, I have quick snapshots of bright, beautiful flowers cascading from the trellis' of the home across from the hotel we stayed in, the funny tour guide we had in Assisi, pizza adorned with peas-the strangest thing I surely had eaten at that time. I remember the scent of my mothers perfume, and the smell of the roses warmed by the sun in the rose garden. My most vivid memory however, not surprisingly, is of our breakfast each morning. The hotel we stayed at had a limited offering- Melba Toast, or something very similar, and apricot nectar. I was not a fan of either. Today though, whenever I enjoy the sweet deliciousness of apricot jam I am brought back to Italy, and I smile at the idea of sipping on apricot nectar in such a beautiful place.

I Can't Believe It's Not Butter invited me to enter their Toast Ambassador competition -a contest where bloggers create and submit original recipes utilizing toast as a main component and an I Can't Believe It's Not Butter product as an ingredient. Toast, to me, more often than not, means crostini, which means "little toasts" in Italian. As I considered my entry for this contest, I thought that it would be perfect opportunity to pay tribute to my childhood journey to Italy.

Warmed Blue Cheese and Apricot Crostini with an Arugula Drizzle

Arugula Drizzle
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
2 tbsp walnuts
1 cup arugula, washed
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and pepper

Blue Cheese and Apricot Blend
1/3 cup apricot jam
1/3 cup blue cheese
1/4 cup walnuts, roughly chopped

8-10 slices of French Baguette 1/4 inches thick
I Can't Believe It's Not Butter Spray with Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Preheat the oven to 375.

In a food processor, combine the garlic, walnuts, arugula, and pinches of salt and pepper, pulse to blend, adding the olive oil gradually until pureed. Set aside.

In small bowl combine the cheese and jam-using a fork to break up the cheese, and blend it with the jam. Fold in the walnuts.

Place the bread slices on a cookie sheet, and spray each liberally with I Can't Believe It's Not Butter Spray. Bake for about 10 minutes, monitor so you remove them from the oven when they are browned. Flip the slices over, spray the non browned side with I Can't Believe It's Not Butter spray. Spread the cheese and jam on to the bread, and place back into the oven for 5-7 minutes, or until the cheese starts to melt.

Remove the crostini from the oven, place onto a serving platter, drizzle with the arugula purée. Serve immediately, or at room temperature.

These make a perfect light bite for a party or gathering. The combination of blue cheese is cut beautifully with the sweetness of the apricots, and the arugula purée brings a brightness and a bit of relief from the dense spread. The walnuts do add a nice texture change, but can be easily omitted for those with allergies.  I loved using the I Can't Believe It's Not Butter Spray with Extra Virgin Olive Oil to coat the crostini.  The spray evenly coated the bread, getting into each crevice, and allowed the slices to toast up perfectly, creating a golden brown outside, a lovely crunch, and a moist inside.  The taste of the spray was just a little salty, but with a natural Olive Oil flavor that really rounded out the other flavors of the dish.  Together, the salty and sweet, combined with the wonderful indulgence of the spray and the brightness of the arugula really became a beautiful bite.


Jen said...

I love crostini! Sounds like a delicious combination.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe it's not toast....!?

Delicious Dishings said...

Great idea! I wimped out and couldn't think of anything creative enough to enter.

(P.S. We're going to Italy for our honeymoon, and your post makes me even more excited about that!)

Jen said...

This looks delicious, and reaffirms the fact that I need to add a food processor to my future wedding registry. :)

Boston Food Diary said...

Are you engaged Jen??? Congratulations! Also -for the record- a blender could be used to make the Arugula Puree :-)

Alicia said...

Yum, I love the flavor combo you used here - so creative....and I love that a sweet memory inspired it.
The color of that arugula puree is GORGEOUS.

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