My kids are always STARVING when they get back from school. Anyone else?? I often think they are so busy during the school day that they forget to eat, and when they finally get a break their bodies realize how hungry they really are. In general I would say my kids are grazers rather than a big meal kind of people, only rarely will they eat what we would consider a full meal; so I do try to offer nutritious and significant snacks that will do more than just fill their stomach until the next big meal.
The start of school also happens to be such a great time for fresh local produce. From tomatoes, to cucumbers, peppers and zucchinis.... I often wonder 'How can I use all of it and enjoy it while it lasts?' I know I'm really going to miss picking tomatoes soon, or getting local cucumbers at the market. So to tie all of these thoughts together I want to introduce CROSTINI!
Crostini, an Italian appetizer, is crusty bread with different delicious toppings. What's better than using your leftover bread and upgrading it with whatever you might have in the fridge?
Here are a few options, but we do encourage you to use your imagination and that leftover pepper you have in the fridge!
This is a very loose recipe and includes suggestions for how your kids can help. Keep in mind that even if they just eat leftover bread, taste some tomatoes or lick some ricotta cheese, they already got something good in their bellies!
For a precise recipe scroll all the way down
Step 1: Brush and Toast
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Cut a baguette or a crusty Italian bread to 1/2 inch thick slices (if you have regular sliced bread you'd like to use, go ahead!)
Place slices of bread on a lined sheet pan and brush with about 1/4 cup olive oil.
Sprinkle with some salt. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven. If you have a clove of garlic, you can peel and have kids rub that onto the toasted bread for some extra flavor.
Have kids "paint" the bread with oil.
Step 2: Prepare Toppings
While the bread is toasting get the toppings ready. Here are just a few options:
Chop 3 medium tomatoes or 1 cup cherry tomatoes. Place in bowl and add a splash of balsamic vinegar, chopped basil (anywhere between 1-2 tablespoons) and 1 tablespoons of olive oil as well as a pinch of salt and a sprinkle of black pepper. Toss to combine.
Have kids rip the basil leaves with their hands or place the basil in a small cup and using a clean pair of scissors, have them snip the basil into small pieces.
Using a peeler create zucchini ribbons (just peel away into the zucchini core). Place in a bowl and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, salt and pepper and toss. Spread on a lined sheet pan and roast in the oven for 10 minutes. While the zucchini is roasting, spread some soft goat cheese or regular cream cheese on the toasts.
Have kids peel the zucchini (supervised), mix the zucchini with their hands and help spread the cheese on the toasts.
Ricotta and Honey
Ricotta is actually very easy to make. We like this recipe from Martha Stewart. Or you can purchase ricotta from the grocery story. Spread ricotta on the toast and top with a drizzle of honey. Sprinkle fresh thyme leaves on top.The ricotta also makes a nice base for either the tomatoes or the zucchini.
Have kids pull the thyme leaves from the stem.
Step 3: Top and Eat
Top each toast with either tomatoes, zucchini ribbons or ricotta cheese and honey and enjoy an after school snack.