Get on this. It’s a fun way to incorporate a traditional holiday ingredient into your meal, in a non-traditional way. Plus, a good appetizer is reason enough to get out of bed in the morning. I could write three paragraphs about why I love pickled cranberry crostini, how pretty it is, and how many high-fives you’ll get for adding it to your Thanksgiving menu. But we’re 48-hours away from the big day, I should have posted this two weeks ago, and THE CLOCK IS TICKING. (You guys, the holidays are sooooo relaxing!)img_1109

So, let’s get to it, shall we?

(Quick sidebar: if crostini isn’t your thing, these cranberries would be great on a leftover turkey sandwich, slathered on a rich grilled cheese, or even used as the filling in sweet/savory thumbprint cookies. Lots of good options.)

What you’ll need for the appetizer:

-1 loaf french bread (or pre-made crostini from your favorite bakery or grocery store)
-1 jar pickled cranberries (recipe below)
-4-oz goat cheese
-kosher salt and course-ground pepper
-Optional (but awesome): zest of one orange, finely chopped chives

 

Pickled Cranberries (Yields 1 pint jar)

Ingredients:

-2 cups fresh cranberries
-1 cup apple cider vinegar
-1 cup sugar
-1 cinnamon stick
-1/4 tsp whole allspice
-1/4 tsp black peppercorns
-1/4 tsp juniper berries
-1/4 tsp cardamom seeds
-1/4 tsp kosher salt

*NOTE: If juniper berries and cardamom seeds aren’t in the spice section of your local grocery, skip them. The pickled cranberries will still be great. Don’t sweat it.

Instructions:

-Tie allspice, peppercorns, juniper berries, and cardamom in cheesecloth, or place in paper teabag.
-Bring sugar, vinegar, salt, and cinnamon stick to boil in small saucepan over medium/high heat.
-Add cranberries and spice packet to boiling brine; continue boiling until cranberries pop open, approximately 3-4 minutes.
-Discard spice bag; pour cranberries, brine, and cinnamon stick into a pint jar or glass container. Refrigerate until ready to use. (They will keep in your refrigerator for months, though they probably will be eaten long before that!)

 

Crostini

You can find ready-made crostini in the bakery department of any grocery store these days. Go that route if you want to cut down on time and effort in the kitchen. But making your own is really easy. And delicious.

Ingredients:

-1 loaf french bread
-olive oil
-kosher salt

Instructions:

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
-Cut bread into 1/2-inch slices.
-Toss bread on rimmed baking sheet. Slices can overlap, so don’t worry about precise placement of each piece. Drizzle with olive oil and mix with your hands. (No need to coat every single slice of bread with olive oil top-to-bottom. Just a little oil on each slice is fine.)
-Bake in oven for until bread is slightly crispy, approximately ten minutes. (Rotate pan half-way through, but don’t worry about flipping slices of bread. Just leave them where they are, and all will be fine.)

 

 

Assemble the appetizer:

*Important: drain the pickled cranberries through a fine mesh strainer before placing them on the crostini (or at least use a slotted spoon) . That way the brine won’t drip all over your gorgeous appetizer.

-Spread goat cheese on each slice of toasted bread
-Top each slice with a few pickled cranberries
-Sprinkle each piece with some chopped chives, orange zest, kosher salt, and coarsely-ground black pepper.

Now… eat. Eat like you mean it. Eat like it’s Thanksgiving and dang you’re hungry and wow do you need a nap but not until you eat all this crostini.