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Crostini with Salted European-Style Butter, Smoked Sardines, and Pepper Cress

Updated February 23, 2016
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This image courtesy of JosephDeLeo.cookstr.com

In the midst of trying a bunch of Spanish products for this book, I tasted canned sardines for the first time. I liked them so much I knew I had to think of a way to include them in the book. I tried to think of what Gabrielle Hamilton would do with them. They just seemed like something she would use. So this recipe is dedicated to Gabrielle. I hope she approves. Since butter is a central ingredient in these crostini, I call for a high-fat butter, such as domestic Plugrà or any high-quality European variety. I use regular supermarket varieties of smoked sardines, but I do try to find sardines that say “lightly smoked” so the smoky flavor doesn’t overwhelm the flavor of the fish.

Serves4

Cooking Time20 min

Cooking Time - Text20

Cooking Methodbaking

CostModerate

Easy

Total Timeunder 30 minutes

One Pot MealYes

OccasionCocktail Party

Recipe Courseappetizer

Mealdinner, lunch

Taste and Texturebuttery, salty, spiced, tangy

Type of Dishcanape/crostini

Ingredients

  • 4½-inch-thick slices from a bâtard (or 8 slices from a baguette or 2 slices from a large round rustic white loaf, cut in half)
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing the bread
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 3 tablespoons salted, Europeanstyle butter, softened just to a spreadable (not oily) consistency
  • 1/8 small red onion, cut through the core and thinly sliced (about 40 slices)
  • 4 fillets canned smoked sardines, backbones removed
  • 24 stems pepper cress or live watercress
  • Sea salt

Instructions

Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 350°F.

Place the bread slices on a baking sheet, brush the tops with olive oil, and bake them for 15 to 20 minutes, until they’re lightly toasted and golden brown. (You can also toast the bread in a toaster, but without the oil. Then brush the toast with oil after they’re done.) Rub the oiled side of the crostini with the garlic and set them on your work surface, oiled side up.

Spread about 2 teaspoons of butter in an uneven layer on each crostino, leaving the edges of the bread visible. Scatter the onion slices over the butter, dividing them evenly, lay 1 sardine on each, and top with the cress and a few grains of sea salt.

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