Crostini and Bruschetta
Credit: Image courtesy of Serge Bertasius Photography /

A wonderful way to start your meals is with one of the traditional Italian appetisers or "antipasto", called Crostini.

Italian meals are often preceded by an "antipasto", literally a "before meal" dish, not dissimilar to the French hors d'oeuvre, but often a little more substantial than just a bite size or two.  That said, it's very much up to you just how large your Crostini are, but the spirit of the thing is some  small, eaten in a few bites, that introduces the meal.

The Italian version - Crostini, or "little toasts" - are simplicity itself: bread toasted just to crispness and topped with something delicious.  You will often hear of “Crostini” to refer both to the bread pieces once toasted, and thus forming the basic crostini recipe onto which is heaped your delicious topping and also to the bread once the toppings are added.  I use the term both ways in this article, and you can tell the difference below.

The great thing is you can add many different toppings as it suits you.  So they are very very versatile and you can use them for all sorts of occasions, whether a substantial meal with Veal Involtini or Spaghetti al Sugo di Tonno follows, or even when no meal follows, such as for a cocktail type party if you need to.  For most meals, one variety of Crostini is enough, but they’re so delicious, you would normally want two types.

So, today, how to make the basic Crostini breads themselves: simplicity itself.  And then, two different toppings: Tapenade Crostini and Red Capsicum Crostini.

The Basic Crostini Recipe

To make 50 Crostini (to which you will later add toppings), you need the following ingredients:

2 day-old ciabatta bread is ideal (since you are aiming for small bread pieces of one to two mouthfuls, according to your taste)

185 ml (3/4 cup) extra virgin olive oil 


  1. Preheat your oven to 180C (350F/Gas 4).  
  2. You are aiming for small bread pieces of one or two mouthfuls according to your taste.  So, thinly slice the ciabatta bread and cut each piece into quarters
  3. Drizzle the oil over both sides of the bread.
  4. Lightly toast the breads in the oven until they are just crisp.  

Crostini will keep in an airtight container for at least a couple of days.

Tapenade Crostini

To make Tapenade Crostini, you need these ingredients:

250g (9oz) black olives, pitted
50g (1 3/4 oz) anchovy fillets (try to buy the Italian variety)
1 tablespoon capers, drained
2 garlic cloves, crushed
15g (1/2 oz) basil, finely chopped
185 ml (3/4 cup) extra virgin olive oil
grated zest and juice of 1 lemon


  1. Finely chop the olives, anchovies and capers together with a knife or food processor and place in a bowl.  
  2. Add the crushed garlic, the basil, lemon zest and lemon juice, stir in the olive oil and season well.

Spread on individual Crostini to serve.

The Tapenade will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a month.

Red Capsicum Crostini

To make Red Capsicum Crostini, you need these ingredients:

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 red capsicums (peppers), sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tablespoon capers, drained and chopped
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon roughly chopped flat-leaf Italian parsley


  1. In a frying pan, heat the oil and cook the onion for a few minutes until soft.
  2. Then add the capsicums and cook for a further 15 minutes, stirring frequently.  Season.  
  3. Add the garlic and cook for a further minute
  4. Add the capers and balsamic vinegar and simmer gently for a few minutes to reduce the liquid.  
  5. Add the parsley just before spreading onto each Crostini.

Enjoy with your choice of red or white wine!  If you are using them for a cocktail type party or even if you are not, Italian cocktails might be the way to go instead.  Perhaps a nice Northern Italian Prosecco, or Aperol on the rocks or an Americano.  Enjoy your Scrumptious Italian antipasto.