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?
- Loaf of fresh crusty bread
- ½ garlic clove
- 8 oz ricotta cheese
- Store-bought fig jam
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- Zest of ½ lemon
- 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil or butter, enough to coat the pan
- 1 yellow onion, sliced very thin
- 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sweetener of choice (honey or agave work well here)
- Sea salt
- Slice bread into 1-inch thick slices. If you have a large loaf, cut each slice in half. Grill or toast slices in the oven under the broiler until golden brown but still soft on the inside. Rub the ½ garlic clove on the bread slices as they come off the grill or out of the oven, while still warm. Let toast cool to room temperature while you caramelize the onions.
- Make the caramelized onions: Heat the oil or butter in a medium nonstick pan over medium heat. Add thinly sliced onions and a pinch of salt and sauté until the onions start to turn translucent. Add the balsamic and sweetener and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown but not burnt, about 5-7 minutes. If onions are sticking to the bottom of the pan, add water a tablespoon at a time to loosen. Remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes.
- Top each piece of bread with 1 tablespoon of ricotta, or enough to thickly cover the center of your bread slices. Add a dollop of fig jam (1-2 teaspoons) and a few caramelized onions and finish with a pinch of grated lemon zest and thyme leaves.