White Bean, Warm Radicchio, Crisp Bacon Crostini


For Christmas Eve dinner, I make morsels and sauces, which as you know, is my favorite kind of eating. I head out with the husband to procure raspberries, chocolate-covered almonds, brillat-savarin cheese, assorted meats, olives, and marinated mushrooms. I pop open a bottle of champagne. Then we settle in for the annual showing of It's a Wonderful Life or Rudolph.

This year, I added these crostini to the buffet.  Bitter, savory, and salty, they were a delightful addition.

The warm bean mixture gets a bit of a kick from the red pepper flakes; the thyme and bay leaf lend a savoriness and a depth to this base for building a tower of goodies atop toast.

The radicchio needed a tad more sugar than I put in it (so I added a little more to the recipe below--the kind folks at Sunday Suppers call for 1/2 teaspoon. I called for 1 teaspoon, and added the step of tasting the radicchio to be certain on your sugar content).

And the bacon is just gilding the lily.

Finally, a note on the saba: Sure you can get this gorgeous Italian syrup of cooked-down grapes for this dish, but seriously, if you have balsamic vinegar on hand, don't bother. What? I said not to bother? Shock of all shocks.  Well, 2015 is coming to an end, and while I have enjoyed making page 215 from my various projects (a goal that fell apart a little around August when I took on a new job), it has led to the purchasing of many ingredients I have used once or twice.

This year I am vowing to reduce my food waste, to use what I have on hand, to reconstitute leftovers, to pare down. This is not to say I won't be busting out the radicchio for crostini or snapping up celery root for a soup, but it means that I vow to use all the things in jars in my fridge, to stash more away into the freezer for weeknight meals, and to really save those leek stalks for homemade chicken broth (rather than just intend to do so).

Long story short: just use the balsamic vinegar, which many of us have on hand in the pantry. (But if you are purist, and snagged some saba for another long ago recipe, by all means, use saba. It is a delicious.)

With that, a parting shot of the morsels and sauces Christmas Eve dinner...


White Bean, Warm Radicchio, Crisp Bacon Crostini

Adapted from Sunday Suppers


For the bread:
2 Tbsp olive oil
8 slices country loaf bread, cut into 1/2-inch slices
1 clove garlic, halved

For the topping:
1 15-ounce can white beans
6 Tbsp olive oil, divided, plus extra for drizzling
3 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 small head radicchio, sliced lengthwise into 1/2-inch wedges
1 Tbsp saba or a well-aged balsamic vinegar, plus extra for drizzling
1 tsp sugar
2 strips bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces

For the topping:
1.  In a 2-quart saucepan, heat 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) of the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add 2 teaspoons of the thyme leaves, the red pepper flakes, garlic, and bay leaf. Cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Add the beans, including the liquid, and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes.

2.  Discard the bay leaf, and transfer the bean mixture to a blender. Puree until smooth.  Season with 1/4 tsp salt and black pepper to taste. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

3.  Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the radicchio, and season with salt and pepper. Add the saba and sugar, and cook until the radicchio is slightly wilted and caramelized, about 8 minutes. Taste for sugar and add more if needed. Set aside.

For the toasts:
4. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

5.  Brush the olive oil over one side of each bread slice, and place them in a single layer on a baking sheet. Toast the bread, flipping the slices once, until golden brown, about 8 minutes.

To assemble:
6.  In a small skillet, fry the bacon pieces over medium-high heat until extra crispy.  Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

7.  To serve, rub the toast with the halved garlic clove.  Spread the bean puree over each piece of toast, top with the radicchio and bacon.  Sprinkle with the remaining teaspoon of thyme leaves. Drizzle with additional saba and olive oil. 


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