If you follow along with me on Instagram, you’ll know that I was recently in Italy for 2 weeks celebrating nonna’s 80th birthday with her. It truly was special to be there for such a big milestone.
To celebrate, we of course went to my mom’s hometown of Sperlonga where nonna lives. The weather was beautiful, I got to sneak in a few beach days (in mid October!!!), and we even made a 2-day trip to Tuscany. Anyway, I’ll save details of the trip for a future post.
While we were in Italy, we noticed a lot of cicoria in the area, to the point that we were eating it almost everyday. I had had cicoria before, but never so regularly in such a short period of time. It’s probably because it’s not easy to find here in Vancouver, and not as popular? I personally love cicoria. It’s one of those greens (think sort of like rapini) that’s quite bitter, and almost has a peppery flavor to it like arugula.
Nonna would boil it to dull down the bitter flavour, then sauté it in olive oil and garlic, not unlike this recipe. But we didn’t just eat cicoria at nonna’s house. We went out to a pub one night and the pub was featuring a panino where cicoria was the star of the show. Made with sautéd cicoria and a white bean puree, the grilled panino was heavenly. And it’s what inspired this recipe. It’s simple and not fussy at all. But instead a making a panino, I made a crostino so it would be a bit easier to share and enjoy.
So without further ado, here’s the crostino inspired by our trip to Italy, and all the cicoria we ate.
Crostini with white bean puree, sautéd cicoria and almonds
Makes about 18 crostini
- One bunch washed cicoria (dandelion greens), roughly chopped
- 1 398 mL can of white beans (rinsed and drained) I used these
- 1 clove garlic
- Olive oil to sauté the beans and cicoria
- Baguette cut into slices
- Almonds chopped into small pieces
- Place baguette slices on to baking sheet and drizzle with a bit of olive oil. Bake in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until slightly golden and crispy.
- Reserve liquid when you drain the can of beans. In the mean time, heat up 1 tbsp olive oil in a pan on medium heat and add garlic. Once garlic is fragrant, add the white beans. Cook until heated through, about 5 minutes.
- Add the beans and garlic to a food processor. Process until the mixture is smooth. A this point, the bean pure may be a little dry. SO if it is, add the liquid you set aside from the can of beans. Pure a little more in the food processor.
- There’s no need to dry the cicoria, in fact it’s better if it’ s left wet – it needs that moisture to cook in the pan. Sauté your cicoria in 1 tbsp of olive oil until it’s cooked down. If it starts to dry out before it’s done cooking, add a bit of water to the pan.
Note: If you add your cicoria directly to the pan, the crostini will be a bitter (which I love). If you want to dull down the bitterness of the cicoria, I suggest you boil it first.
- Assemble the crostino: Spread a small amount of the bean pure on the toasted baguette slice, top with cooked cicoria, and sprinkle with chopped almonds.