This was sort of an impromptu appetizer I served at my birthday party* the other night. I had some really nice quality fig jam which made me crave a salty-sweet-treat appetizer to go along with a bottle of prosecco. I’m familiar with the idea of fig and gorgonzola crostini, but since I’m not a fan of gorgonzola (I know, I just lost a few readers), I got stuck on the idea of creamy ricotta instead. I caramelized tiny onion slices with balsamic, assembled the little bites, and sprinkled fresh thyme leaves and lemon zest on top.
This turned out to be a super delicious combo… Rich, light, sweet, salty, tangy, and earthy. And a special brightness from the lemon zest. (there’s a reason this site name is what it is – it’s my opinion that a squeeze of lemon or a bit of lemon zest is always a necessary finishing touch.)
It was only as we started eating this that I realized had made a really snobby version of probably my favorite childhood snack: crackers & cream cheese & jelly. (As in… processed butter crackers, cream cheese, and artificially purple colored “grape” jelly). My mom is going to laugh reading this because she probably never imagined I’d be “perfecting” that concoction with things like caramelized onions and thyme leaves which were unheard of (by us) back then.
*party = me and Jack… parties of 2 are the best kind, right?
serves 6-8, or about 2 pieces per person, (depending on the size of your bread). I halved this recipe because I was not serving a crowd.
Loaf of fresh ciabatta bread (or baguette, or any crusty bread that you like)
Store bought fig jam, I use this kind.
8 oz. Ricotta (or about 1 tablespoon per piece), the less processed the better, part skim is ok.
1/2 garlic clove
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
zest of half a lemon
Carmelized onions: (you might end up with extra)
2 teaspoons olive oil or butter (or enough to coat the pan)
1 yellow onion, sliced very thin
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon agave syrup or honey or sugar of choice
pinch of salt
Slice bread into 1 inch thick slices (I also cut each slice in half to make it more finger-food-friendly) and grill or toast in the oven under the broiler until golden brown but still soft on the inside. Slice a clove of garlic in half and rub the grilled bread as it comes off the grill (or out of the oven) while it’s still warm. Let toasts cool for a few minutes to room temperature while you caramelized the onions.
Heat oil or butter in a medium nonstick pain. Add thinly sliced onions and a pinch of salt and saute for a couple of minutes until the onions start to turn translucent. Add balsamic and sugar and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown (just barely not burnt), about 5-7 minutes. If onions are sticking to the bottom of the pan, add some water a tablespoon at a time to keep them loose. Remove from the heat and let cool for a few minutes while you start assembling.
Top each piece of bread with about 1 tablespoon of ricotta (depending on the size of your bread), a dollop of fig jam (a teaspoon or 2), a bit of the caramelized onions. Finish with a pinch of grated lemon zest and thyme leaves on each.