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Beautiful Pesto Ricotta Crostini

June 18, 2020

These beautiful crostini are layered with pesto ricotta, olive tapenade and topped with tiny balsamic pearl onion roses and cherry tomatoes. What appetizers could possibly be prettier for a summer party!?

If you make all of the little pieces ahead of time, they take just 10 minutes to assemble, so let’s add some rainbow colors to your appetizer tray!

11 beautifully garnished crostini on a marble plate.

Believe it or not, these crostini are one of my “Fancy & Frugal” recipes, meaning they can be made for $25 or less (not including ingredients like olive oil or basic spices). In fact, you can DOUBLE the recipe and still spend just that much!

I love colorful appetizers, and I’m always dreaming up how to mix and match bruschetta, canapés and crostini for parties. How pretty would these be with my Bruschetta with Seared Tomatoes, Roasted Garlic & Burrata and Beautiful Spring Canapés?! They would make such perfect appetizers for a bridal or baby shower, wouldn’t they?

A pesto crostini with onions, tomato and small flower on a marble plate.

Here’s the Process!

1. We’ll slice and toast little garlic breads for about 10 minutes.
2. We’ll blanch and peel tiny pearl onions for 30 seconds, slice them, drizzle with balsamic vinegar and bake them for 30 minutes.
3. We’ll slice cherry tomatoes.
4. We’ll make a simple olive tapenade.
5. We’ll mix pesto with ricotta.
6. Then we’ll assemble the pretty crostini.

A Few Tips!

1. Don’t skip the blanching step.

Believe me, 30 seconds of boiling your pearl onions will save you an hour of time and help you peel them perfectly. I can’t believe how many years I spent butchering my poor pearl onions trying to peel them without blanching first.

2. If you can’t find edible flowers, you can make prosciutto roses!

Take a look at my 5 Pretty Rose Garnishes post on how to make roses from prosciutto, bacon, scallions… I love making tiny flowers for my cocktails and appetizers, so feel free to substitute these other edible, floral accents.

3. Make all the bits and pieces ahead of time, so all you have to do is assemble and serve.

I like to make the pesto ricotta and tapenade, slice the tomatoes and bake the onions ahead of time so I can assemble the crostini quickly about 30 minutes before a party. That way, the toasts are still crunchy and they taste perfectly fresh.

4. If you can’t find tiny pearl onions, just peel a layer or 2.

These really do look prettiest when the onions are tiny. So if you can only find big ones, simply peel off a layer or two to slim them down.

5. Want to make pesto from scratch?

I used store-bought pesto for this recipe, but if you want to make your own from scratch, it’s incredibly simple! You just need 1 cup fresh basil, 3 tbsp. olive oil, 3 tbsp. fresh grated parmesan, 2 tsp. white balsamic vinegar and 2 tbsp. of pine nuts (but I often use nuts like almonds or pepitas). Put them all together in a food processor and process until you have a nice, smooth texture.

A small bowl of ricotta mixed with pesto, beside a jar of pesto and a small bouquet of flowers.

Common Questions:

1. What kind of flowers are those? Are they edible?

I used little edible flowers called “Feverfew” that grow in my garden, but there are so many edible flowers that would look so pretty, too. You can use tiny pansies, chive blossoms, violas, cilantro flowers, borage, pea flowers, or chamomile flowers which look very similar to the ones I used, just to name a few.

2. How far ahead can I make them for a party?

Once assembled, you will want to serve them within 45 minutes to an hour or the toasts will start to get soggy.

3. What is the difference between crostini and bruschetta?

Bruschetta is larger than crostini, and prepared with rustic Italian or sourdough bread. It’s toasted with garlic olive oil, or simply dipped in oil and rubbed with garlic, and although bruschetta is technically an appetizer, it’s large enough that 2 or 3 slices can be a suitable first course.

Crostini is an appetizer made with a smaller bread like baguette. The bread doesn’t necessarily have to be drizzled in oil and rubbed with garlic, but it is toasted, and more suitable as a bite-sized appetizer.

Both can contain the same toppings, so it’s just a matter of size, type of bread and whether garlic and oil are involved.

4. What do I need to make this recipe?

  • Sharp, thin knife and cutting board
  • Small pot
  • Foil-lined baking sheet
  • Food processor
  • Small mixing bowl
  • Measuring cup

How to Make Beautiful Pesto Ricotta Crostini – Step by Step

A step by step process showing how to slice bread and prep pearl onions for roasting.

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 F. (175 C.) Cut 12 slices of baguette about ½ an inch thick. Brush or dip one side of the slices in olive oil, and sprinkle with garlic powder. Toast slices for 10 minutes, or until nicely brown. Remove toasts, but keep the oven on.

2. Bring a small pot of water to a rolling boil and blanch 1 cup (226g) of small pearl onions for 30 seconds. Quickly pour out the hot water, and replace it with cold water. Allow the onions to sit in cold water for about a minute.

3. With a very sharp, thin knife, slice the ends off of the pearl onions and peel.

4. Slice pearl onions in half and place them on a foil-lined baking sheet. Spoon a few drops of balsamic vinegar onto each onion-half. Bake at 350 F. (175 C.) for 30 minutes.

A step by step process showing how to slice tomatoes, make tapenade, make pesto ricotta and baked onions.

5. While the onions bake, slice 6 small cherry tomatoes in half. Set aside.

6. Make simple tapenade. Pour ½ cup (113g) of kalamatta olives into a food processor, and process until it’s a pâté-like texture. About 15-20 seconds. Set aside.

7. Make the pesto-ricotta. Add 1½ tbsp. of pesto to ½ cup (113g) of ricotta, and stir. Set aside.

8. Remove onions from the oven when finished, and carefully remove them from the baking sheet.

Assemble Your Pretty Crostini

A step by step process showing how to assemble crostini.

1. Add a thin layer of olive tapenade to your toasts.

2. Then, add a thicker layer of pesto ricotta.

3. Place a sliced cherry tomato in the center and a few onion roses on the right.

4. Then, add a pretty edible flower and arugula leaf and serve.

11 beautifully garnished crostini on a marble plate.

Help Yourself to More Floral Appetizer Inspiration!

Vegan Canapés with Mushroom Pâté
Beet Napoleon Appetizers with Prosciutto Roses
Crostini with Balsamic Strawberries and Ricotta
Deviled Eggs with Bacon Roses

And for more inspiration, follow me on INSTAGRAM @shekeepsalovelyhome, on PINTEREST and FACEBOOK! And if you ever make any of my tasty drinks or treats, take a picture and tag me. I want to see!

Beautifully garnished crostini on a marble plate.
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5 from 1 vote

Beautiful Pesto Ricotta Crostini

These beautiful crostini are layered with pesto ricotta, olive tapenade and topped with tiny balsamic pearl onion roses and cherry tomatoes. What appetizers could possibly be prettier for a summer party!?
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time50 mins
Crostini assembly10 mins
Total Time1 hr 30 mins
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: International
Keyword: crostini
Servings: 12 crostini
Calories: 163kcal
Cost: $25

Equipment

  • Sharp, thin knife and cutting board
  • Small pot
  • Foil-lined baking sheet
  • Food processor
  • Small mixing bowl
  • Measuring cup

Ingredients

  • 12 slices baguette
  • 1 cup pearl onions - small
  • 6 cherry tomatoes - small
  • ½ cup kalamata olives - pitted
  • ½ cup ricotta
  • tbsp. pesto
  • 1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • garlic powder - a few sprinkles
  • arugula - a few small leaves for garnish
  • edible flowers - for garnish

Instructions

  • Pre-heat oven to 350 F. (175 C.) Cut 12 slices of baguette about ½ an inch thick. Brush or dip one side of the slices in olive oil, and sprinkle with garlic powder. Toast slices for 10 minutes, or until nicely brown. Remove toasts, but keep the oven on.
  • Bring a small pot of water to a rolling boil and blanch 1 cup (226g) of small pearl onions for 30 seconds. Quickly pour out the hot water, and replace it with cold water. Allow the onions to sit in cold water for about a minute.
  • With a very sharp, thin knife, slice the ends off of the pearl onions and peel. Slice pearl onions in half and place them on a foil-lined baking sheet. Spoon a few drops of balsamic vinegar onto each onion-half. Bake at 350 F. (175 C.) for 30 minutes.
  • While the onions bake, slice 6 small cherry tomatoes in half. Set aside.
  • Make simple tapenade. Pour ½ cup (113g) of kalamata olives into a food processor, and process until it's a pâté-like texture. About 15-20 seconds. Set aside.
  • Make the pesto-ricotta. Add 1½ tbsp. of pesto to ½ cup (113g) of ricotta, and stir. Set aside.
  • Remove onions from the oven when finished, and carefully remove them from the baking sheet.
  • Assemble your beautiful crostini. Add a thin layer of olive tapenade to your toasts. Then, add a thicker layer of pesto ricotta. Place a sliced cherry tomato in the center and a few onion roses on the right. Then, add a pretty edible flower and arugula leaf and serve.

Notes

Once assembled, you will want to serve these crostini within 45 minutes to an hour or the toasts will start to get soggy.

Nutrition

Serving: 1crostini | Calories: 163kcal | Carbohydrates: 19g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 5mg | Sodium: 312mg | Potassium: 93mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 147IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 58mg | Iron: 1mg

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