Cannelini-Mushroom Crostini

With the holiday season approaching, it's tempting to bury all of you in endless dessert recipes. As soon as Thanksgiving hits, it's cookies, pies, and candies as far as the eye can see in the Blog World, and I'm restraining myself from doing the same. Trust me, I have a bunch of desserts waiting patiently in my "to post about" folder. Because of this, it's easy to forget how many other components there are to a holiday family meal -well, I guess not if you're actually planning one, but I think even then the focus can be a little heavy on the last course. But here's a little recipe that would work well as an appetizer for the holiday season: Cannelini-Mushroom Crostini.

I made it up.

Take that as you will. I promise, though, it's mighty tasty, and a heftier serving of it made a dinner for me one night this semester that I just about got lost in. It's easy to put together, forgiving (I think), not all that expensive, and very, very, very satisfying. To make this cannelini-mushroom-toast concoction more of a main meal as I did, use heftier bread, add some salad greens, and drop more of the dip on top. It's still kind of on the lighter side, I guess, but it filled me up all the same.

Cannelini-Mushroom Crostini
Yield: Maybe 4 main dish servings and a whole bunch of appetizers? I need to get better at writing this information down.
The Ingredients
1 can cannelini beans, drained & rinsed
4oz. baby bella mushrooms
1/4 onion, chopped
2 tsp. olive oil
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. coarse ground mustard
chicken broth, for consistency (approx. 1 Tbsp.)
fresh ground black pepper, to taste

For serving:
sliced baguette (for appetizer) or italian loaf (for main dish), toasted
salad greens, optional
parmesan cheese, optional

The Method*
1. Puree everything in a food processor or blender to desired consistency. Mine was on the chunkier side, but almost entirely because my blender is kind of annoying to puree things with.
2. Transfer to a small-medium sauce pan and heat over low heat to warm up.
3. Serve over toast and greens, and top with parmesan cheese.

*Note: I didn't write down the method, so this is how I remember it. The pureeing part may have, in fact, been more nuanced - you know, adding ingredients in a certain order. I may or may not have sauteed the mushrooms and onions a little first. I apologize for this - I'm getting much better at documenting my recipes since there's such a lag time before I get to posting them, but some of my earlier recipes are still missing some vital information.

What this recipe isn't missing, however, is a whole slew of suggestions for switching it up. I think a little more paprika wouldn't hurt, and some gobs of high quality cheese if you're not into the whole nutrition thing for the holidays. When serving it on bigger pieces of bread as a main dish, it didn't have quite the texture contrast I was going for - but as a smaller crostini, this shouldn't be a problem. The flavor as is, is delicate and subtle, but savory nonetheless. Feel free to add some salt to it, as any normal person likely would. Walnuts might also be a good addition, chopped up a little more coarsely and sprinkled throughout, maybe just before serving. As for actually serving, there are so many options! It could be a dip, a topping, a heavier pasta sauce (more on that in the next post - oh, so much more on that...).

I haven't made this a second time yet, but I absolutely love it. What I love even more than this is what I did with the extras - but you'll have to wait for that (a la what I just mentioned above about the pasta sauce). I know I'm leaving you hanging off the edge of your desk chairs, just about cursing me for this cruel trick. I know, I know. But you'll pull through. I took my last final today, so I shouldn't pull one of those disappearing acts.

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