Blackberry & Lemon Zest Crostini

A simple summer appetizer: blackberries + mascarpone cheese with thyme and lemon zest. (vegan option).

blackberry and lemon zest crostini /

Now that it’s nearly summer, I’ve been making more and more things with less and less ingredients. Lately, I’ve been in love with this juicy little blackberry bite – it’s simple, sweet & bright, with an unexpected savory note from the thyme leaves.

These would be beautiful (not to mention ridiculously easy to assemble) for any last minute cocktail party. The only thing missing here: a patio & a few glasses of prosecco. It’s 5 o’ clock somewhere right?

blackberry and lemon zest crostini /

blackberry & lemon zest crostini

  • slices of toasted baguette
  • mascarpone cheese (see vegan version in the notes)
  • blackberries (macerated w/ a pinch of sugar and salt)
  • lemon zest
  • a few thyme leaves
  • drizzle of honey
  • optional - more salt, to taste
  1. Place blackberries in a small bowl, add a pinch (or two) of sugar and a small pinch of salt. Stir, and let sit at room temp for 20-30 minutes. (you can skip this step, it just makes them a bit juicier).
  2. Assemble crostini with a spread of mascarpone cheese, a few blackberries, top with lemon zest.
gluten free version: use toasted gluten free bread or crackers.

vegan version: make cashew "cream": 1.5 cups soaked raw cashews, drain and rinse, then blend (in a high speed blender) with the juice of 1 small lemon, ½ cup water (more as needed), and a few pinches of salt. Blend until creamy, then chill before serving. (Also - skip the honey on top).


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  1. These are so beautiful. As soon as I saw them I thought they would be lovely for a little backyard dinner party, and then there you were suggesting it. Now I just need more patio furniture and I’ll be all set!

    • jeanine

      ha! (buying patio furniture is the worst :))

  2. Giada from

    These look so nice, such a clever idea!

  3. Baby June from

    Wow elegant! I’ve never tried a sweet crostini but I think I will have to now. Sounds like it would be lovely with fresh blackberries!

  4. That looks so delicious! A perfect summer recipe and very original too!

  5. Adorable! I love blackberries, it’s crazy pants to me that some folks in the states ignore the random blackberry bushes in the yard or even *gasp* kill them!! Man, it must be an Alaskan thing but a teensy, tiny package up them up here is like $8! I would be all over the blackberry bushes if I had some in my yard! πŸ™‚

    • jeanine

      ha, well we don’t have them growing wildly here either (opposite problem – we have extreme heat – I think berries grow here only for a very short time). They’re pricey but oh so worth it every now and then!

  6. Ahh yes the summer time is when I go simple in the kitchen too, and now you have me craving prosecco πŸ™‚ Beautiful pictures by the way!

  7. chelsea from

    This looks incredibly delicious!

  8. These are so simple yet really elegant and tasty looking. I love the use of less and less ingredients over the summer, my plan too:)

  9. I love the simplicity. As I am constantly traveling and rebuilding kitchens, I am always on the hunt for quick recipes that will yield amazing results with few ingredients. If it winter wasn’t turning the corner here in Santiago, Chile, I would definitely be making these for fellow travelers.

  10. Kathryn from

    These sound wonderful; I love the combination of creamy cheese and the bright and tart fruit. What a sophisticated little mouthful!

  11. Abigail from

    This looks yummy !

    Does this count as an appetizer or dessert?

    Or breakfast πŸ™‚

    • jeanine

      ha – I’ll consider it any of those 3 πŸ™‚

  12. Leah from

    I love the combination of blackberries and goat cheese – but I have never tried marscapone. What a perfect appetizer for summer!! Yum!

    • jeanine

      thanks! It’s mild like cream cheese (I like it because it’s creamier and easier to spread) – although for a bolder flavor you could use goat cheese.

  13. This is the best idea ever! I could see the blackberries being macerated with a little balsamic too for a more pronounced savory/sweet. Yum!

    • jeanine

      balsamic would definitely be a tasty addition πŸ™‚

  14. These look divine! I love anything that it’s socially acceptable to eat with my hands, and these crostinis are just too cute. I’ve never made cashew cream before, but I’ll definitely have to give it a shot, maybe even with a little agave nectar drizzled overtop.

  15. These look absolutely amazing and so simple! I can’t wait to whip these up this weekend.

  16. amanda from

    YUM!! I love crostinis, seriously they are a perfect food and if i were to ever open a resto it would be one dedicated entirely to crostinis. and tequila. this version looks bomb. roberta’s in brooklyn has a version that’s smoked ricotta, fresh thyme, honey and cracked black pepper that is just so perfect.

  17. I all the time used to read paragraph in news papers but now as I am
    a user of internet so from now I am using net for posts, thanks to web.

  18. Wowww all of your creations look and sound so heavenly! These are so delish, I can tell….it has all my favorite ingredients in one . πŸ˜€

  19. Erin from

    I love your photos, they are gorgeous!!

  20. Linda

    I am hosting a baby shower and wanted a unique appetizer. Made these for my husband and I to try last night and they were amazing! I didn’t realize you had used mascarpone cheese. I had Laurel Chenel Orange Blossom Honey Goat Cheese and used that. I live in Oregon and the blackberries are just arriving at the market. The lemon zest and thyme leaves are a must, such a beautiful flavor combination. We will try these again tonight with the mascarpone!

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Linda, I’m so glad you enjoyed them! I bet they were delicious with the goat cheese!

A food blog with fresh, zesty recipes.
Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.