These Spanish-inspired crostini appetizers are easy to put together, and make a great starter for a cocktail party. Just smear toasted baguette slices with store-bought quince paste (a.k.a. membrillo), then top with crispy baked serrano ham, thinly sliced Manchego cheese, and a drizzle of mint oil.
What to buy: Look for membrillo, also called quince paste, in gourmet groceries and Latin markets.
Serrano ham is a salt-cured ham from Spain. If you can’t find it, substitute prosciutto.
Manchego is an aged sheep’s-milk cheese from Spain; look for it in gourmet groceries.
All of these Spanish products are available online at La Tienda.
Game plan: The mint oil and toasted baguette can be prepared a day ahead. Store the baguette slices in an airtight container so they don’t get stale.
This recipe was featured as part of our lineup of Killer Apps.
1Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil over high heat. Meanwhile, prepare an ice water bath by filling a bowl halfway with ice and water; set aside. Blanch the mint by submerging the leaves for 10 seconds in the boiling water, then immediately placing them in the ice water. Remove the mint from the ice water and pat dry.
2Place the mint leaves and olive oil in a blender and purée until smooth. Set the blender carafe aside and let the oil steep for at least 2 hours. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer into an airtight container, cover, and set aside.
3Heat the oven to 400°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and arrange the ham in a single layer on it. Bake until the ham is crisp and golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer the ham to paper towels to drain and cool, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, place the membrillo in a small bowl and stir until smooth. When the ham has cooled, crumble it into bite-sized pieces and set it aside.
4To assemble the crostini, spread a heaping teaspoon of the membrillo on each slice of the toasted baguette, then top with a few crumbles of ham and a shaving of cheese. Drizzle a few drops of mint oil on top and serve.
Beverage pairing: Bodegas Martín Códax Albariño, Spain. Salty, sweet, and rich with flavor, this dish requires a wine to counterbalance it. Since the theme is Spain, it’s good to go with a Spanish wine, in this case a crisp, lemony Albariño.
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