Tuscan bean crostini

    45 min

    Here's a delicious snack to be enjoyed hot or cold – toasted slices of baguette topped with a creamy white bean purée flavoured with garlic and thyme, and finished with colourful slices of tomato and leaves of rocket.

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    Serves: 22 

    • 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
    • 1 small onion, finely chopped
    • 1 garlic clove, crushed
    • 1 can cannellini beans, about 400 g, drained and rinsed
    • 2 tbsp crème fraîche
    • 1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
    • 1 thin baguette, about 250 g (8½ oz)
    • 3 plum tomatoes, thinly sliced
    • salt and pepper
    • rocket or sprigs of fresh herbs, to garnish

    Prep:25min  ›  Cook:20min  ›  Ready in:45min 

    1. Heat the oil in a small frying pan, add the onion and garlic, and cook gently for about 10 minutes or until softened, stirring occasionally.
    2. Meanwhile, place the cannellini beans in a bowl and mash with a potato masher or fork. Remove the pan of onion and garlic from the heat and stir in the mashed beans, crème fraîche and thyme. Season with salt and pepper to taste and mix well. Keep warm while preparing the toasts.
    3. Preheat the grill to high. Remove the crusty ends off the baguette and cut the loaf into 22 equal slices, each about 1.5 cm (¾ in) thick. Toast the slices on both sides under the grill. (The toasts can be left to cool and then kept in an airtight tin; when ready to serve, top with the bean mixture, cooled to room temperature, and garnish.)
    4. Thickly spread some bean mixture over each toast, top with a tomato slice and garnish with rocket or fresh herb sprigs.

    Some more ideas

    Instead of cannellini beans, use other canned pulses, such as butter beans or chickpeas. * Top the bean mixture with grilled courgette slices, lightly cooked button mushrooms or halved cherry tomatoes. * Herbs such as fresh basil, oregano, sage or parsley can be used in place of the thyme. * Use different types of bread, such as ciabatta, pugliese, wholemeal or granary. * Make tuna crostini. Drain and flake 1 can tuna in spring water, about 400 g. Mix with 1½ tbsp each mayonnaise and plain low-fat yogurt, 2 tbsp chopped fresh chives and pepper to taste. Spread each slice of toast with ½ tsp tomato relish or chutney, top with the tuna mixture and garnish with tiny watercress sprigs or rocket leaves.

    Plus points

    Cannellini beans belong to the same family as the haricot bean and have a similar floury texture when cooked. Though an excellent source of dietary fibre, beans can produce side effects such as bloating and wind. These can be minimised by ensuring that canned beans are thoroughly rinsed before use. * Crème fraîche is a cream that has been allowed to mature and ferment so that it thickens slightly and develops a tangy taste. Because of its rich texture, only a little is needed to give a creamy finish.

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