Friday Night Fixes: feta-basil crostini and anchovy dressing for green vegetables

My cooking life has, rather unexpectedly, been turned upside down by renovations that don’t even touch the kitchen.  A new bathroom. moving the washing machine and new doors would, in most people’s houses, not even stroke the edges of the cooker but, since I live in a flat that makes ‘bijou’ look generous, I have stuff everywhere, including the kitchen floor. I keep retreating to baking every time the plasterer/carpenter/plumber arrives but it’s not quite working; I just feel trapped and not in the least bit inspired. And every morning, instead of a soothing shower followed by a cup of Earl Grey (I typed Early then, which is pretty apt) I have to get dressed, leave the house and go to my neighbour’s house for a shower. Evidently this is better than being smelly but, still, it’s not quite the calming routine I’m used to. And I really really owe my neighbour lots of favours as a result.

So, on Friday night I offered to cook for him which, I realised afterwards, was a bit of a mistake since there is only one place to sit in the house, apart from bed, and that’s in the chair where I’m typing this. Thankfully, like his shower, his kitchen is but a short walk from my own so I prepped here and then took it there. I had a fridge full of leftover cheese and bread (which I shall explain in my next post) and I wanted to use it up but, somehow, make it a little bit more special than just leftovers. A cheese soufflé made sense, since I also had tons of eggs and then I made some garlic toast, inspired by David Lebovitz’s method for using up leftover bread (more poshly known as crostini or bruschetti) topped with a feta and basil mash-up and, in an attempt to make it all a tad more healthy, I steamed some green beans with a variation of this lovely anchovy dressing. Everything was ridiculously easy, done quickly (even the soufflé, because I cooked it in small dishes) and, amazingly, considering it had been prepped in one building, finished in another and I made most of it up as I went along it tasted wonderful.

Since dressings/dips are so personal, and both anchovies and feta are so salty the recipes below are very approximate, so they may need adjusting to taste. But they’re very easy to fix, unlike a new bathroom…

Garlic toast
Cupboard, or things you may already have
leftover, slightly stale (but not rock-hard) bread (something decent, none of your Warburton’s sliced)
olive oil
garlic clove, or two (depending on how much bread you are toasting)
sea salt and pepper

How to
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C/gas 4.
2. Slice the bread quite thinly and put it on a baking sheet.
3. Lightly brush the slices on both sides with some olive oil (or if, like me, you don’t have a pastry brush, spoon it haphazardly over the top…).
4. Season with salt and pepper then bake for about 3 minutes on each side until just toasted and brown.
5. Whilst the bread is toasting, peel the garlic clove(s).
6. Remove the toasts from the oven and once cool enough to handle but still warm, rub the garlic across one side so that little bits of it get stuck to the bread.
7. Serve the same day, with something like the spread/dip below.

Feta and basil mash-up
Cupboard or things you may already have
olive oil
garlic clove
sea salt and pepper

Shopping list
feta, 100g or so (about half a normal-sized packet)
fresh basil leaves, a handful
yogurt or cream, a spoonful or two

How to
1. Peel, top and tail and finely chop the garlic.
2. Roughly chop the basil leaves.
3. Mash the feta in a small bowl or pestle and mortar with a spoonful of yogurt, the garlic and some salt and pepper.
4. Thin, if required, to your preferred consistency with some olive oil (I made it with a thick, almost cream cheese-like consistency, with only a dessertspoonful or so of oil). Season and serve with the toasts.

Anchovy dressing
Cupboard or things you may already have
Dijon mustard, 1½ teaspoons
garlic clove
red wine vinegar, a teaspoon or two
olive oil, about 75ml (but I didn’t measure it)
sea salt and pepper

Shopping list
tinned anchovy fillets, 6

How to
1. Peel, top and tail and finely chop the garlic then put it, with half the anchovy fillets, the mustard and a little salt and pepper in a small bowl or pestle and mortar.
2. Mash to a paste then stir in the red wine vinegar.
3. Thin to a dressing with some olive oil, add a little more vinegar if you like it sharper then season.
4. Peel, top and tail the shallot, chop the remaining three anchovy fillets and stir into the dressing. Serve with steamed green beans, courgettes or anything else green and crunchy (this is very like bagna cauda, but without the heat so would be very good with broccoli florets too).

This entry was posted in David Lebovitz, Fast food fixes, Green veg recipes, Random bits that don't belong in a category..., Salsa and sauce recipes and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Friday Night Fixes: feta-basil crostini and anchovy dressing for green vegetables

  1. Claire Connolly says:

    All sounds great Louise – look forward to trying the anchovy dressing. I sometimes make Denis Cotter’s broad bean paste which is like your basil/feta mash but with cooked shelled / broad beans. Love from across the road from Cafe Paradiso …

  2. Tony Austin says:

    We made the crostini this evening to go with a punchy brazillian chorizo soup and its a great way to use up slightly over the hill bread. the anchovy dressing goes really well with both green beans and broccoli. great stuff.

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