This tomato crostini with pesto and ricotta looks almost too pretty to eat! This recipe includes fresh, homemade pesto and pretty prosciutto roses! It’s a gorgeous, garden-fresh appetizer for Mother’s Day or a perfect addition to any spring or summer brunch buffet!
Tomato Crostini with Pesto and Ricotta
All the bits and pieces in this recipe can be prepared the day before and the crostini itself takes just 5 minutes to assemble!
I like to get everything sliced, rolled, and mixed the evening before a party, then assemble these shortly before guests arrive so that the toppings are fresh and the toast is still crunchy when we sit down to eat.
I have Crostini for just about every holiday. I love my maple butternut squash crostini for Fall parties, colorful Easter crostini in April, skirt steak crostini for fancy parties, and balsamic strawberry crostini for pretty summer picnics.
This crostini is actually similar to my bruschetta with burrata, seared tomatoes, and roasted garlic. They’d look so pretty if served together!
Castelvetrano Olives – I love meaty, green olives for this recipe. Don’t substitute with Spanish or pimento-stuffed olives. They’re too flavorful and may overpower the other ingredients.
Cherry Tomatoes – I was lucky to find 2 different kinds of yellow olives that looked so pretty, but you can substitute with any color you like.
Proscuitto – Be sure to choose a brand of prosciutto that has separated the slices with wax paper or plastic film. If the slices are stuck together, you won’t be able to easily create roses with them.
Pepitas – These are pumpkin seeds. They’re not as expensive as traditional pine nuts, and they make the pesto even greener, so I prefer them for this recipe. However, you can certainly substitute with pine nuts, or even almonds.
French bread – I used a French bread that gave me 3½-inch long slices. I find this is a perfect size. Not too big to take 1 bite, and not so small that it’s hard to balance all the toppings nicely on the toast.
Ricotta – You can substitute with whipped cream cheese for an even creamier topping if you can’t find ricotta.
White Balsamic Vinegar – Don’t substitute with dark balsamic. Even though it will taste just as nice, it will make the pesto look unappetizing.
Parmesan – Freshly grated or the kind in glass bottles works just as well.
Basil – If you can, choose a bunch that you see lots of tiny leaves on. You’ll use those as pretty “rose leaves” on the crostini once they’re assembled.
How to Make This Recipe Step-by-Step
1. First, remove any tiny pesto leaves from basil, and store them for garnishing. In a food processor, add 2 oz. fresh basil, 5 tbsp. pepitas, 3 tbsp. olive oil, 2 tsp. white vinegar and 2 tbsp. grated parmesan. Process on a purée setting for at least 30 seconds, or until creamy. You should have ½ cup pesto.
2. In a mixing bowl, stir together pesto and ½ cup ricotta cheese.
3. Slice ½ cup pitted Castelvetrano Olives. I like to slice them into thin rings.
4. Slice ½ cup cherry tomatoes into quarters.
5. Make prosciutto roses. Remove 1 slice of prosciutto from the package, and use kitchen scissors to cut the slice in half.
6. Fold each slice over.
7. Carefully roll each folded slice into a rose.
8. Roll each slice until you have 10 roses.
9. Slice bread and brush with olive oil. Sprinkle with garlic powder and toast for 7-10 minutes at 450 F. or until nicely toasted.
10. Once toasts are ready, wait until they’re cool – about 5 minutes. Give each slice a nice smear of pesto ricotta.
11. Carefully spoon tomatoes and olives on top.
12. Add a pretty prosciutto rose and 1 or 2 small basil leaves.
You can make the pesto ricotta a whole 2 days before serving, and slice the tomatoes and olives too. The prosciutto roses can be prepared 3 days ahead. As long as everything is refrigerated and stored in sealed containers, they’ll taste perfectly delicious when ready to serve.
I HIGHLY suggest making your own pesto for this recipe, but if you’re really in a pinch, you can use store-bought pesto too. It might just be a bit more oily, and not taste as garden-fresh. You’ll use ½ cup just like the recipe states for homemade pesto.
I find it’s best to assemble these crostini up to 1 hour before serving, then refrigerate them all together. The toasts will stay crunchy for up to an hour or so, even when refrigerated.
Assemble crostini on a cutting board that you don’t intend to serve on. Assembly can get a little messy (you might spill a little pesto, maybe the tomatoes will fall and wet the board, etc). I assemble on a kitchen cutting board and serve on a prettier one. It just looks more tidy that way.
Remember to remove those little basil leaves before making the pesto! You’ll find the tiniest leaves at the very ends of the leaf bunches. I remove them with the stems attached and store them in a refrigerated, sealed container if making a day ahead, so they stay nice and fresh.
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More Crostini Inspiration
Tomato Crostini with Pesto and Ricotta
- 1 food processor
- 1 mixing bowl
- 1 pair of kitchen scisors
- 1 pastry brush
- rustic French bread – enough for 10 slices
- 2 oz. fresh basil
- 5 tbsp. pepitas
- 3 tbsp. olive oil – and a little more for brushing the crostini
- 2 tsp. white balsamic vinegar
- 2 tbsp. grated parmesan
- ½ cup ricotta cheese
- ½ cup pitted Castelvetrano olives
- ½ cup cherry tomatoes
- 5 slices prosciutto
- garlic powder – a nice sprinkle
- First, remove any tiny pesto leaves from basil, and store them for garnishing. In a food processor, add 2 oz. fresh basil, 5 tbsp. pepitas, 3 tbsp. olive oil, 2 tsp. white vinegar and 2 tbsp. grated parmesan. Process on a purée setting for at least 30 seconds, or until creamy. You should have ½ cup pesto.
- In a mixing bowl, stir together pesto and ½ cup ricotta cheese. Set aside.
- Slice ½ cup pitted Castelvetrano Olives into rings and ½ cup cherry tomatoes into quarters.
- Make prosciutto roses. Remove 1 slice from a package of 5 prosciutto slices, and use kitchen scissors to cut the slice in half. Fold each slice over and carefully roll each folded slice into a rose. Make 10 roses.
- Slice French bread into 10 slices and brush with olive oil. Sprinkle with garlic powder and toast for 7-10 minutes at 450 F. or until nicely toasted. Cool for 5 minutes.
- Give each slice a nice smear of pesto ricotta, carefully spoon tomatoes and olives on top, add a pretty prosciutto rose and garnish with 2 small basil leaves.
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