Crostini with Whipped Rosemary Ricotta, Toasted Hazelnuts and Raw Honey

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My last night in Italy had to be one of the most memorable. Stationed away in the back garden of our vila was a full blown firewood pizza oven, and with a house full of foodies, we soon had a recipe for pizza dough out on the table and the oven lit.

Behold, the pizza oven….

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However, as romantic as the pizza oven sounds – making the dough from scratch, and tossing it into the oven via a large stick proved MUCH MUCH harder that the guys in pizza express make it look.

In fact, our first attempts were so flawed, head pizza chef Nick (my friend’s Dad), ended up flinging them as far as he could into the trees.

Anyways, circa 11pm, having commenced operation homemade pizza many hours earlier, we had some of the finest straight from oven. Even though we had healthy options topped with melanzane (italian for aubergine), and shrooms, the best, in my opinion, was the white pizza topped with ricotta and drizzled with lashings of raw honey.

It was so darn good, that ricotta was the first thing to make in on to my “Italian recipes” brainstorm when thinking about what I should fix up for the blog. Ricotta is a traditionally Italian soft cheese and although it is high in saturated fat, it is also an excellent source of protein and calcium.

Plus, when in Rome!

I think creamy ricotta, crunchy toasted hazelnuts and sweet honey is a match made in heaven, not least when paired with aromatic rosemary for a total knockout.

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Makes about 5 crostini

Ingredients

• 5 slices of good quality sourdough bread
• 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
• Zest of 1 lemon
• Roughly 10g rosemary
• 1 tbsp olive oil
• 1/4 cup hazelnuts
• Raw honey for drizzling

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Preheat the oven to 175 degrees celsius.

Place the rosemary on a baking tray, drizzle with olive oil and roast in the oven for 10 minutes or so.

Add 1/2 the roasted rosemary to a food processor along with the ricotta, lemon zest, tablespoon of olive oil and plenty of seasoning. Whizz for 10-15 seconds until you have a rosemary infused whipped ricotta.

Transfer into a bowl, and store in the fridge for 10 minutes before serving – this can be much longer if you’d like to make the crostini in advance.

Crush the hazelnuts, and dry fry in a pan until golden.

Toast the sourdough in the oven, or an ordinary toaster.

Spread the toasted sourdough with heaps of whipped ricotta, scatter with toasted hazelnuts and drizzle liberally with raw honey. Finally finish it all off with a garnish of the left over rosemary.

Serve immediately.

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