These easy to make crostini are an elevated, bite-sized play on Italian sausage sandwiches. They are ideal for a Superbowl spread or as a starter for your next casual get together. Make a few without sausage – your vegetarian guests will thank you.
Italian Sausage and Herbed Ricotta Crostini
makes about 30
- 1 baguette, cut into 1/4 inch-thin slices
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
- 3 cloves garlic, 1 peeled and cut in half, 2 minced
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, blitzed in a spice grinder or crushed with a mortar and pestle until finely ground (or 3/4 teaspoon ground fennel seed)
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 and 1/2 lbs sweet or hot Italian sausage
- 2 cups whole milk ricotta
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 3 roasted red bell peppers, small diced
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lay baguette slices evenly on a large baking pan. Brush tops with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with kosher salt. Bake until light golden, about 8-10 minutes. While baguette slices are still warm, gently rub tops with cut side of garlic clove.
Stir 1/4 cup olive oil, minced garlic, ground fennel seeds, dried oregano, and crushed red pepper flakes together in a medium, unheated sauté pan. Place over medium-low heat until mixture warms and begins to sizzle, about 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to lowest setting and continue to heat mixture for another 3-4 minutes (you are gently infusing the oil with the garlic and spices – you don’t want to fry or brown the garlic). Pour mixture into a large bowl and allow to cool. Wipe pan out with a paper towel.
Heat enough olive oil to thinly coat bottom of the sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add sausage and cook until browned on all sides and completely cooked through, 12-14 minutes total. Remove cooked sausage from pan and place on a paper towel lined plate. Let rest for a few minutes, then slice sausages into 1/2 inch-thick pieces on the bias. Cutting on the bias will give you elongated, oval slices of sausage that will fit the crostini perfectly.
Place ricotta, kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper in bowl with the garlic/olive oil mixture. Whisk with a fork until thoroughly combined.
Spread 2 teaspoons ricotta mixture onto each baguette slice, then top with a sausage slice and a generous 1/2 teaspoon of diced roasted red bell pepper. Finish with a very light drizzle of olive oil.