For one hot minute, I thought spring wasn’t going to come. I envisioned endless winter nights, sunglasses that would never see the light of day, too many oranges, and a devastating dearth of peaches. I doubted spring, and I wanted to cry.
But then something magical happened: hope appeared, first in the guise of a beautiful day, and then another, and finally, in the form of tiny, blushing magnolia buds that were only just beginning to open up. All my doubts disappeared, and the slew of rainy, muddy days that followed, so typical of spring, cemented it: spring, finally, has arrived!
To celebrate, I made these crostini, topped with seasonal beets and asparagus. Beets are at their most tender in spring (and fall), and roasting these gives them caramelized edges. Their sweetness is tempered by the tangy, herbed goat cheese, but also accentuated by a drizzle of honey, making for a sweet and savory bite. Asparagus, at their peak right now! are best when kept simple, so I roasted the stalks in olive oil and crunchy sel gris, and removed them when they were perfectly juicy, but still a little toothsome. They added a clean, earthy flavor to the crostini, and kept the goat cheese from overwhelming these little bites.
We ate these for a late lunch and I couldn’t help thinking about how grateful I am for this season. Not just for the food, although that, of course, plays a part. But for the longer days, the sun we’re seeing more of, and for the magic of watching everything slowly awaken. It’s my favorite season, and I couldn’t be happier that it’s finally arrived.
Now, to the kitchen for one last crostini…
Yield: 15 crostini
Why I love this recipe: using beets and asparagus at their prime, these crostini are perfectly flavored, with sweet, savory and creamy touches. Roasting the beets at a high temperature for a long time gives them caramelized edges and draws out their sweet flavor, and the asparagus is roasted for just long enough to make them juicy yet still hardy, a wonderful complement to the soft beets and goat cheese.
For the beets:
- 1 bunch beets (around 3 small ones)
- extra virgin olive oil
- sea salt
- black pepper
- 1 small shallot
For the asparagus:
- 1/2 bundle asparagus (around 15 stalks)
- 2 tablespoons light olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon sel gris or coarse sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
For the crostini:
- 1 long multi-grain or seeded baguette
- herb chevre (goat) cheese
- roasted beets, recipe above
- roasted asparagus, recipe above
- clover or lavender honey, for drizzling
- Preheat oven to 425°. Cut the beets into quarters. Drizzle with olive oil, season heavily with salt and pepper. Place in pan, cover and bake for 1 1/2 hours.
- When beets are done, remove from oven (do not turn off the heat!) let cool, then cut into half moons. Thinly slice the shallot and toss with the beets. Let sit while you roast the asparagus.
- Cut off the woody ends of the asparagus stalks. Season with the oil, salt and pepper. Roast the asparagus for 10-13 minutes on 425°. Let cool. Once cool, cut off the tips of the asparagus, saving the bottoms for another purpose (like eating)
- To assemble the crostini: slice the baguette diagonally, and spread the sliced baguette rounds with chevre, covering the whole surface. Place 3 overlapping beet slices on top of the chevre.
- Top beet slices with another small round of chevre. Top with roasted asparagus, and drizzle crostini with a little clover or lavender honey. Top with a few granules of sel gris. Eat immediately.