- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 16, 2008

In the United States, we eat toast with butter and cinnamon or jam for breakfast or as a late-night comfort food.

In Italy, toast is prepared and eaten in a whole different way. It is an appetizer, antipasto or midday snack, brushed with garlic and olive oil, and served either plain or dabbed with savory toppings. Small Italian toasts are called crostini and can be topped with just about anything. If you use fresh, high-quality bread and toast it carefully, you can’t go wrong. This might just be the simplest tasty bite yet.

It’s fun to make a platter of crostini with several different toppings. Garnish it lavishly and serve it to your delighted guests with bowls of soup for a wonderful light supper. In this very basic recipe, the crostini are topped with a simple combination of goat cheese (plain or herbed) and very thinly sliced radishes — akin to open-faced “tea sandwiches.” Feel free to experiment with other toppings — different savory cheese spreads, olive paste, sliced cucumbers, roasted tomatoes. This is a great opportunity to be creative.

Crostini with radishes

1/4 to 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 small garlic cloves, minced or crushed

1 good-quality baguette, 2 to 3 inches in diameter

6 ounces very fresh goat cheese (plain or herbed)

1 bunch beautiful radishes, cleaned and very thinly sliced

Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Combine the olive oil and garlic in a small bowl, and set aside.

Cut the baguette into ½-inch slices, and brush them lightly on both sides with the olive oil-garlic mixture. Lay the slices flat on an ungreased baking tray and bake on the center rack of the oven until the bread begins to get crisp but is still a little chewy (about 10 to 12 minutes).

Remove from the oven and let cool for about 5 minutes. Spread each piece with a small amount of goat cheese, and top artfully with radish slices.

Grind on some black pepper and serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes 4 servings.

Mollie Katzen is the author of “Moosewood Cookbook” (Ten Speed Press). To contact her, go to www.molliekatzen.com.

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