Capers are flower buds that are either pickled in a brine solution or preserved in sea salt. If you’ve never had capers, they have a distinctive flavor that is highly prized in southern Italian cuisine. Capers that hail from the island of Pantelleria, part of the region of Sicily, are said to be the finest in quality and the most sought after. Capers are excellent in salads, fish, and poultry dishes. Salted capers are much more expensive than the common pickled variety found in most grocery stores but they do taste better. They also require rinsing and soaking in water before use. This recipe is made using the pickled variety.
Crostini are basically mini toasts – the Italian version of toast points. You can put just about anything on a crostino (singular). You can spice up a dinner party or wine tasting by offering a platter of assorted crostini with a minimum of three different toppings. Along with caper patè , my favorite toppings are caponata and peperonata just to give you a few ideas. Caper patè is a quick, easy topping, and it can be made several hours ahead of time. It’s similar to a tapenade; which by the way, comes from the word for capers. Tapenades are mostly olive based but also have capers in them.
For a variation of this recipe, try placing thin sliced hard-boiled eggs on top of the crostini and top with patè.
CROSTINI WITH CAPER PATÈ
Crostini con Pate di Chiappari (Capperi)
Difficulty Rating: Easy
Makes 2 dozen crostini.
24 (1/4-inch thick) slices of a French baguette
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 (3.5-ounce) bottles of brined capers
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 anchovy fillets, mashed
2 small cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons finely minced flat-leaf parsley
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon dry oregano leaves
Pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
MAKE THE CROSTINI: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place bread slices on a cookie sheet and lightly brush both sides with 3 tablespoons oil. Bake for approximately 15 minutes, until lightly browned, turning once during baking.
MAKE THE CAPER PATE: Using a processor, pulse the capers, remaining olive oil, anchovy, garlic, lemon zest, and oregano until capers are finely minced. Alternatively, you can finely mince the capers with a knife and stir in the remaining ingredients. Transfer to small bowl, season with black pepper, and stir in parsley and red pepper flakes. Makes 2/3 cup, enough for 2 dozen crostini.
Spread a thin layer of the caper patè on each crostini and place on a platter or serve the pate in a small bowl surrounded with crostini, so guests can help themselves.