Over the past few weeks, I’ve given you three different canapés to cover a diverse set of gatherings. This week, I wanted to finish the series off with a one-bite-wonder that should appeal to almost everyone. It’s a crisp crostini, slathered with a nutty herbal za’atar spread, and topped with a concentrated burst of sweet umami that lingers far after you’ve swallowed the bite and moved onto a sip of bubbly.
Although it happens to be vegan, this is a canapé that will appeal to anyone who likes a bite of something delicious. While the dip does contain tofu, the other ingredients mask any trace of the tofu smell, allowing it to work its magic, turning this into a smooth creamy spread, that falls somewhere between an herbed chèvre and hummus, on both taste and texture.
The spice, Za’atar, is a Middle Eastern blend of spices that varies by region, but generally contains thyme, oregano, marjoram, sesame seeds, and sumac. It’s an awesome all-purpose seasoning and condiment that I use on everything from breads to salads to steaks. Za’atar is also the Arabic word for Thyme, so if you’re buying it from a Middle Eastern market, be sure you’re getting the blend and not just the thyme.
As for the tomatoes, they may not be at their best in winter, but enough time caramelizing in the oven, and even the most pallid tomatoes will come out sun-drenched sweet and flavorful. And that, my friends, is the secret of making impressive canapes, taking otherwise ho-hum ingredients and turning them into delicious bites of food that make you want to go for another.
Roast Tomato Crostini with Creamy Za’atar Spread
This roasted tomato crostini recipe with creamy Za'atar spread is a flavorful canape or appetizer for an intimate gathering.
- 400 grams assorted cherry tomatoes
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon maldon salt (or other coarse sea salt)
- black pepper
- 1 narrow baguette
- extra virgin olive oil
- 1 pack firm tofu (340 grams/12 ounces)
- 1/4 cup tahini
- 1 tablespoon za'atar
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 small clove garlic (1.5 grams/0.05 ounces)
- fresh thyme leaves (for garnish)
- Remove the stems from the tomatoes (if they have them) and toss them with 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon of coarse salt and black pepper. Dump these onto a baking sheet including all the oil and roast in a 350 degree F (180 C) oven for 35-40 minutes.
- While the tomatoes are roasting, slice the baguette, into 1/4-inch (7mm) thick slices, you should get about 40 slices from a baguette. Line them up in a single layer on a baking sheet, brush with olive oil and bake until golden brown (about 6-8 minutes).
- Put the tofu in a cheese cloth and wring out as much water as you can. You can also crumble the tofu into a fine mesh strainer and add a weight on top, letting it drain for about an hour. After squeezing, you should be left with about 250 grams of tofu.
- Put the squeezed tofu, tahini, za’atar, lemon juice, 1/4 teaspoon salt, lemon zest, and garlic in the work bowl of a small food processor and process until smooth and creamy.
- To assemble, smear some spread on the crostini and top with the tomatoes. Sprinkle on some thyme leaves to garnish.
Yield: about 40 crostini
Marc Matsumoto is a culinary consultant and recipe repairman who shares his passion for good food through his website norecipes.com. For Marc, food is a life long journey of exploration, discovery and experimentation and he shares his escapades through his blog in the hopes that he inspires others to find their own culinary adventures. Marc’s been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today, and has made multiple appearances on NPR and the Food Network.