This seasonal appetizer is refreshing, classy and beautiful! Sometimes, the best recipes are the simplest ones and require only a few ingredients. If you're planning a cocktail or a party, you should definitely try these chic "croutons"! This stunning grape, goat cheese & thyme crostini have a perfect balance between crunchy, savory and sweet.
You can either use your favorite crackers (I love Lesley Stowe Raincoast crips fine crackers!), a regular (or gluten-free!) baguette or a multi-grain baguette. As for the grapes, I prefer to use red seedless grapes, but other varieties would be lovely too. In my opinion, the sweeter the better! I love to add thyme to this recipe, but you can also try cilantro, basil or rosemary. Toasted pine nuts or walnuts can also be a lovely addition. This time, I decided to add walnut oil instead or the whole nuts.
Most of the similar recipes I've seen are made with roasted grapes. I decided to roast half of the grapes to see which version I would prefer. My husband and I both loved the raw grapes version more than the cooked one. There's something irresistible about the crunchiness and freshness or the grapes on top of the creamy goat cheese. If you still want to do the cooked version, you simply have to roast your grape salsa (try adding a touch of honey for a sweeter taste) for about 35-45 minutes at 375F.
If you don't particularly enjoy the strong flavor of goat cheese, try fresh ricotta, brie or blue cheese instead. For a vegan version, I've included my basic almond cheese recipe. It's the perfect plant-based substitute to a spreadable cheese like goat cheese! For a light dinner or healthy snack, serve the almond cheese with fruits, dates, nuts or crackers. It can also be used in sandwiches, on top of a vegan pizza or even in a pasta dish (try it on top of my incredible fettuccini w/kale, pine nuts, raisins & caramelized onions recipe!).
This is a pretty simple "basic" recipe. Therefore, feel free to experiment and add other ingredients. Here are my favorite combos :
- Peppercorn & chilli flakes
- A mix of fresh herbs (chives, parsley, dill, basil, etc.)
- Cranberries & walnuts
- Roasted garlic & roasted red peppers
- Sun dried tomatoes & basil
Plus, you can also bake this almond cheese too if you want at 350F for about 30-45 minutes or until the crust is golden and crackled!
Grape, goat cheese & thyme crostini
- 500g red seedless grapes (or other variety), sliced in 4
- 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced + extra for garnish
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon walnut oil (optional)
- Pinch sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
- 1 whole baguette, cut into thin slices
- 8 onces fresh goat cheese (or almond cheese, see recipe below)
- Lay your bread slices on a cookie pan and grill in the oven at 375F for about 3-5 minutes each sides. Cool down.
- Meanwhile, mix the sliced grapes, onion, garlic, thyme, red wine vinegar, oil, salt and pepper. Toss well.
- Spread goat cheese on the grilled bread slices and add about one teaspoon of the grape salsa. Garnish with fresh thyme or nuts if you like.
My basic (spreadable) almond cheese
- 1 cup raw almonds unroasted with skins or blanched, soaked for 6 hours or more
- 1/3 cup water
- 1/2 teaspoon miso
- 2 tablespoons red onion, finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- Sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Put the almonds in a bowl, cover with purified water and let soak overnight (or at least 8 hours). Drain, rinse well. If not blanched, remove the skins by rubbing them with a dry towel or carefully pinch off the skins with your fingers.
- Put the almonds into a blender with water and miso. In a high speed blender or food processor, blend until smooth and strain through a nut milk bag or a cheesecloth.
- Put a heavy weight (I use a big tomato can!) on top of the bag and let it ferment 3-4 hours or overnight.
- Put the almond pulp back into the blender with the chopped onions, garlic clove, lemon juice, salt and pepper and blend until well combined. Roll into a ball if you want. Refrigerate and serve cold or cooked (for about 30-45 minutes or until the crust is golden).