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Urban Foodies

Strawberry Basil Crostini – Urban Foodie Kitchen

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This lovely strawberry goat cheese crostini with fresh basil just screams summer! The toasted bread gets topped with strawberries, fresh goat cheese, basil, and balsamic glaze for an easy summer appetizer.

Crostini topped with sliced strawberries, goat cheese, basil and balsamic glaze

This recipe is a perfect balance of simplicity and sophistication. It only uses a handful of ingredients, including fresh summer produce in the form of strawberries and basil. Yet the bright color and flavor combo make it feel very elegant.

You can whip up these Strawberry Basil Crostini in less than 30 minutes to give you an amazing appetizer for your next get-together. Or enjoy it for a light lunch or an afternoon snack…or maybe even for breakfast! 🙂

Overhead shot of toasted bread topped with goat cheese, strawberries, basil and balsamic glaze

Recipe Ingredients

This is hands down one of the simplest appetizers around. And it only uses a few ingredients. Here’s what you’ll need:

Baguette: I like to use a sourdough baguette if I can find one, but any baguette-style bread will work. If possible, ask the bakery to slice it for you so you have slices with uniform thickness.

Baguette slices on a baking sheet

Fresh strawberries: Medium-sized strawberries work the best for this recipe.

Soft goat cheese: One small log of goat cheese should be four ounces. Use your favorite brand.

Fresh basil: If you are growing basil, garden-fresh is always the best option. Otherwise, just use fresh from the grocery store or farmer’s market.

Close up of basil growing in the garden

Balsamic glaze: This has become a fairly common ingredient so you can find it in most major grocery stores, including Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. In a pinch, you could substitute balsamic vinegar though it will make the bread quite soggy so I don’t really recommend it.

Mascarpone: You can find mascarpone in most major grocery stores, typically in the deli section near the goat cheese, feta, parmesan, etc. You can substitute cream cheese if necessary.

Spices: cracked pepper

Pantry staples: olive oil, honey

Notes from the kitchen: I like to keep some balsamic glaze on hand, as it has many fabulous uses. It’s fantastic drizzled on tomato mozzarella salad and also on melon and prosciutto. It keeps for many months in the pantry so I’d highly recommend giving it a try if you haven’t used it before.

Tips for making crostini

Crostini is one of my favorite party appetizers. In a just few simple steps, you’ll have a delightful summer appetizer ready for your guests.

Toast the bread. You’ll start by brushing both sides of the bread lightly with olive oil. Grill at 400°F for 2 to 3 minutes per side until golden brown and grill marks are visible. Grilling bread is a great way to toast bread in the warmer months. You can also toast in the oven for 4-5 minutes.

Slice the strawberries. Slice the strawberries from the top (stem end) to the bottom in thin slices. If they are really large, you may want to cut the slices in half, also longways.

Assemble the crostini. Once the toasts are cool enough to safely handle, top each slice with a smear of goat cheese, followed by several strawberry slices. Top with fresh basil and a drizzle of balsamic glaze. Crostini are best served immediately. Enjoy!

Five slices of bread topped with strawberries, basil, goat cheese and balsamic glaze

What’s the difference between crostini and bruschetta?

Crostini means little toasts. So crostini typically uses small, thin slices of bread that are brushed with olive oil and toasted. They are almost always served with some type of topping.

Bruschetta comes from the Italian word bruscare, which means to “roast over coals” and is typically made from larger, thicker slices of bread that are rubbed with garlic and drizzled with olive oil. Sometimes it is just served plain, with no toppings.

Though there are technically differences, you’ll often find the two terms used somewhat interchangeably.

Serving Suggestions

This crostini makes the perfect start to a summer backyard party menu. It also makes a great summer afternoon snack or even a light lunch.

For a party menu, I’d add this Summer Tortellini Pesto Pasta Salad, this Tuscan White Bean Salad, and these Pulled Pork Sliders. I’d finish with either this Lemon Lavendar Naked Cake or these Mini Lemon Cheesecakes.

A nice wine pairing with this recipe is a sparkling Rosé.

More summer appetizer ideas

If you are looking for more ideas for summer appetizers, check out these Proscuitto, Melon and Mozarella Skewers or this Mexican Street Corn Dip.


tools you may want want for this recipe

Serrated knife (not an affiliate link) – I find this is the best knife to use for slicing both bread and cheese.

Crostini topped with sliced strawberries, goat cheese, basil and balsamic glaze

Strawberry Basil Crostini

This lovely strawberry goat cheese crostini with fresh basil just screams summer! The toasted bread gets topped with strawberries, fresh goat cheese and balsamic glaze for an easy summer appetizer.

Prep Time 15 mins

Cook Time 5 mins

Course Appetizer

Cuisine American

Servings 14 crostini

Calories 360 kcal

Ingredients  

  • 1 tabelspoon olive oil, extra virgin
  • 14 baguette slices
  • 1 cup strawberries, sliced
  • 4 ounces goat cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon mascarpone
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • ¼ teaspoon cracked pepper
  • balsamic glaze

Instructions 

  • Grill the baguette slices. Lightly brush both sides of each slice. Place on a grill heated to 400°F and grill for 2 minutes per side, until the edges are crunchy. Remove the toasts from the grill and let them cool.

  • Mix the goat cheese. While the toasts are grilling, place the goat cheese in a small bowl. Add the mascarpone, honey and cracked pepper. Mix well.

  • Slice the strawberries. Slice the strawberries from the top (stem end) to the bottom in thin slices. If they are really large, you may want to cut the slices in half, also longways.

  • Assemble the crostini. Once the toasts are cool enough to safely handle, top each slice with a smear of goat cheese, followed by several strawberry slices. Top with fresh basil and a drizzle of balsamic glaze. Crostini are best served immediately.

Nutrition

Calories: 360kcal

Keywords : strawberry recipes, summer appetizers





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Urban Foodies

Celebrating Our 20th Anniversary at Taco Maria (During Covid) –

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Taco Maria in Costa Mesa has always been one of our favorite Mexican restaurants in LA.

Chef Carlos Salgado is originally from Mexico but spent over ten years training in some of the best kitchens in the US, including 2-Michelin starred restaurants like Coi in San Francisco and Commis in Oakland. He opened Taco Maria in 2013.

Prior to achieving a Michelin Star, Chef Salgado was a James Beard Award semifinalist for Best Chef West consecutively for the past four years, and was named Food & Wine Best New Chef in 2015.

Dining During Covid

Notoriously challenging to book, this Michelin-starred restaurant got even harder to book during Covid. They removed all indoor dining and limited seating to parties of four. They also opened up bookings only 1-2 weeks in advance, so Bryan diligently logged onto their website (at midnight in Hong Kong!) to grab seats for us during popular, coveted weekend slots.

Taco Maria – The Food



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Urban Foodies

Visiting Family in Los Angeles During Covid

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Returning to the US



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Urban Foodies

A Weeknight Meal for Two

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This Deconstructed Skillet Lasagna gives you that great lasagna taste without all the fuss of traditional lasagne, making it an easy weeknight meal for two!  

Skillet filled with lasagne with bread, wine and cheese on the side

This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product via these links, I will earn a small commission which helps to keep this blog running!

There is nothing like a good hearty pasta dish on a chilly winter night! This creamy, deconstructed lasagna takes all the components of traditional lasagna and incorporates them into an easy-to-make version. No need to spend time layering anymore. 

This skillet version might just change the way you make lasagne forever!

Contents:
Deconstructed Skillet Lasagna shot from overhead on a teal blue napkin

Recipe Highlights

  • Cheese sauce! Do I really need to say more?!
  • Designed for two. Since it’s made in small skillets, this lasagna is the ideal two serving meal.
  • Easier than traditional lasagna. Traditional lasagna can be time consuing to make. By deconstructing it a bit, this recipe is ready in just about 30 minutes, making it a weeknight staple.
  • Make-ahead option. You can make everything ahead of time and refrigerate until you ar ready to cook. Then just pop the skillet in the oven and bake for 20 minutes.
  • Packed with flavor. Cheese sauce, red wine, tomatoes and ground beef combine to give this dish loads of flavor.

Key ingredients

The full list of ingredients and quantities can be found in the recipe card below.

Ingredients - corkscrew pasta, tomatoes, onion, red wine, cheese, herbs and garlic

The key ingredients include…

  • Cellentani pasta: This corkscrew style pasta works well with both the meat and the cheese sauce. Cavatappi also works for this recipe.
  • Ground sirloin: I typically use at least 90% lean ground beef.
  • Beef broth: Purchased beef broth works fine for this recipe.
  • Red wine: I recommend a fruitier red wine, but your favorite varietal or whatever you happen to have open will work.
  • Diced tomatoes: Ideally, you’ll use petit diced tomaotes for the best consistency in the sauce but sometimes they seem to be hard to fine so standard diced tomatoes also work.
  • Italian blend cheese: I normally prefer to grate cheese instead of purchasing pre-bagged, grated cheese, however since you want an Italian blend it’s easiest to purchase a bag.
  • Pamesan or Asiago cheese: Freshly grated is the best option here.
  • Spices: dried basil, dried oregano, dried thyme, sea salt, ground pepper
  • Pantry staples: Garlic cloves, milk, butter, all-purpose flour

How to make this recipe

Since it’s ready in just about 30 minutes, this lasagna is ideal for any night of the week.

Cook the pasta. I always recommend following the package directions, since cooking times for pasta vary based on brand. You want to cook to al dente.

Make the meat sauce. You’ll start by browning the ground beef, then adding in the beef broth, wine and tomatoes.

Make the cheese sauce. Starting with a traditional roux (butter + flour) gives you a nice, thick cheese sauce that eventually combines with the meat sauce to give you cheesy goodness in every bite.

Assemble the lasagne. You’ll divide the pasta between the two skillets, then top with the meat sauce, and then pour the cheese sauce over the top. Next, you’ll bake the lasagna for about 15 minutes and dinner is ready!

You can cook the pasta, make both the meat and cheese sauces and assemble the lasagna ahead of time. If you will be refrigerating for more than a few hours, I don’t recommend using cast-iron skillets. Stainless steel skillets or small ceramic baking dishes will be a better choice.

Frequently Asked Questions

What if I don’t have mini skillets?

If you don’t have mini skillets you can either use another small baking dish, or you can make this in a larger skillet though you will need to increase the cooking time by about 5 minutes.

How should I store leftovers?

If you used cast iron skillets, I recommend removing any leftovers from the skillets and storing them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to four days.

Close up of Deconstructed Skillet Lasagna with a glass of red wine

Tools you’ll want for this recipe

Small cast iron skillets – Cast iron skillets are great for cooking so many things. Something about 6″ in diameter is ideal. I like to keep two of the smaller version in my kitchen for smaller servings. You can also use a small stainless steel pan.

Serving Suggestions

To keep it simple, I like to pair pasta with a nice green salad. My quick and easy salad is greens topped with some shaved asiago, toasted pine nuts, a squeeze of lemon juice, some olive oil, and a bit of balsamic glaze.  

And of course, you can’t go wrong by adding some homemade garlic bread to soak up any extra sauce! Add a nice glass of red wine, perhaps the merlot you used in the sauce, and you have the perfect meal!

More pasta recipes

If you are looking for other easy pasta dishes check out these reader favorites:

  • Creamy Lemon Pasta. While this recipe is easy enough for a weeknight meal, the bright lemon flavor and parmesan breadcrumbs give it a touch of elegance.
  • Roasted Tomato Summer Spaghetti. This is pasta is perfect for an easy, everyday meal. Tomatoes, mozarealla, pesto and pasta combine for vegetarian dish that’s ready in just under 30 minutes.

Skillet filled with lasagne with bread, wine and cheese on the side

Deconstructed Skillet Lasagna Recipe

This Deconstructed Skillet Lasagna gives you that great lasagne taste without all the fuss of a traditional lasagne, making it an easy weeknight meal for two! 

Prep Time 15 mins

Cook Time 15 mins

Total Time 30 mins

Course Pasta & Grains

Cuisine Italian

Ingredients  

For the meat sauce:

  • 1 cup Cellentani pasta, uncooked
  • pound ground sirloin
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground pepper
  • 2 ounces beef broth
  • 4 ounces Merlot, or other fruity red wine
  • 1 15- ounce can petite diced tomatoes

For the cheese sauce: 

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup non-fat or 1% milk
  • 1 cup shredded Italian blend cheese
  • ¼ teaspoon ground pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • Grated asiago or parmesan for topping

Instructions 

  • Heat the oven. Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat two small cast iron skillets with olive oil. 

  • Cook the pasta. Cook the pasta according to package directions for al dente pasta. Drain when pasta is done cooking.

  • Brown the ground beef. While the pasta is cooking heat a large skillet or saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the ground sirloin and onions; cook for 4-5 minutes until the ground sirloin is browned. Add the garlic and cook for an additional minute. Add the basil through pepper and cook for an additional minute until fragrant.

  • Make the meat sauce. Add the beef broth, wine and tomatoes; continue to cook until the mixture begins to boil. Reduce heat and simmer while you make the cheese sauce.

  • Make the roux. melt the butter in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk until a thick paste forms.

  • Make the cheese sauce. Slowly add the milk, a small amount at a time, stirring with a whisk after each addition until the sauce is smooth. Once all of the milk has been added cook for an additional 2-3 minutes, whisking constantly, until the sauce begins to thicken. Remove from heat and stir in the cheese; continue stirring until the sauce is smooth (sauce will be quite thick). Add the pepper and nutmeg; stir to combine.

  • Assemble and bake. Add half of the pasta to each of the prepared skillets. Top each skillet with half the meat sauce mixture then half of the cheese sauce. Bake for 15 minutes or until the cheese sauce begins to bubble around the edge of the skillet. Top with grated cheese and serve

Notes

  • If you are saving one or both of the skillets for another time, wait to put the dish in the skillet until you are ready to bake. You can refrigerate in an airtight container and then transfer to the cast iron skillet. Alternatively use a non-cast iron mini skillet or baking dish. 
  • When ready to eat, cook as directed, however, you will need to increase the cooking time by 5-10 minutes to ensure everything gets hot!

Keywords : cast iron cooking, pasta for two

This post was originally published in January 2016. It was updated in January 2022 with some new photos and information. No changes were made to the original recipe.





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