October 2, 2020
You've planned your entire Thanksgiving feast. But now you're in need of the perfect appetizer for you and your family to snack on while Thanksgiving dinner's being prepared. Don't worry!
In years past, we've snacked on my delicious spinach & artichoke dip. This year, I'm adding a new menu item to the holiday appetizer list: vegan cranberry and cashew goat cheese crostini! (This recipe is also a great option for holiday parties.)
Crostini (an Italian word meaning "little toasts") share some traits with their better-known antipasto cousin, bruschetta. Both are finger foods made from toasted bread slices with various toppings. However, bruschetta traditionally uses larger slices of bread (from a loaf of Italian bread, for example). Crostini are made with smaller bread slices, typically from baguettes. Crostini are also toasted in the oven on a baking tray, while bruschetta is usually grilled over a fire.
The most time-consuming portion of these vegan crostini is the cranberry sauce, but that can be made ahead of time. (You could also double or triple up the cranberry recipe and serve the rest of the cranberry sauce along with Thanksgiving dinner). Then, when you're ready to eat, you can just toast the baguette slices for a couple of minutes under the broiler, and assemble the crostini! The cranberry sauce recipe should make more than enough for 15-18 slices, which is about what you'll get out of a full-size French baguette.
For the cashew goat cheese, I like Treeline French Style Soft Nut Cheese or Miyoko's plain vegan cream cheese (it tastes more like goat cheese than cream cheese). To find these at a local grocery store, go to the Treeline store locator or the Miyoko's store finder and be sure to choose the specific cheese you want when you're searching. If you want to make your own, try this recipe.
Toppings and garnish are up to you, but walnuts work well with these flavors. You can also add some fresh herbs like thyme or parsley.
I would only toast and assemble as much crostini as I expect to be eaten right away. It's so quick to assemble and toast the crostini, that I think it's better to store the components separately, then assemble it each time. However, the crostini won't get soggy if you decide to refrigerate them fully-assembled for a day or two.
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time40 minutes
Total Time60 minutes
In a large skillet or saute pan over medium heat, melt the vegan butter. Add the diced onion and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add minced garlic to the pan and continue cooking for another 5 minutes. If the ingredients in the pan start to dry out at any point during cooking, add some water.
Reduce the heat to medium-low and allow the pan to cool off a bit. Then add cranberry juice and brown sugar, and stir until the sugar dissolves.
Add red wine vinegar and cranberries to the pan. Turn up the heat again until the juices begin to boil, then reduce the heat to simmer for 15 minutes. As the cranberries soften, use a fork or potato masher to mash them. The mixture should be a jelly-like consistency by the end of this step. If it dries out too much, add about a tablespoon of water, and if it’s too runny, allow it to simmer a little longer. (Keep in mind it will thicken more as it cools).
Add cinnamon and salt to the cranberry mixture and stir. Remove from heat.
Slice the baguette diagonally to make 1/2” to 3/4” thick slices. Spray or brush both sides of each slice with olive oil and place in a single layer on a large baking sheet.
Broil on low for 2 minutes, then turn the bread and broil the other side for 2 minutes.
Spread a generous portion of nut cheese on top of each slice of bread. Then add a spoonful of cranberry sauce. Top with your choice of chopped walnuts, parsley, or thyme.
Broiling the bread for 2 minutes on each side produces a crunchy crust with soft bread in the middle; for bread that's crunchier in the middle bake at a lower temperature for a few minutes longer.
Make ahead: Prepare the cranberry sauce ahead of time, and refrigerate it in an airtight container. Then, when ready to serve, toast the baguettes and assemble!
Leftovers: Store unassembled crostini components in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Toast baguette slices and assemble according to recipe.
Note: This data should be used only as an estimate. Please see the nutrition section of my terms and conditions for more information on how this data is calculated.
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