There's a winning combination of spicy sweetness that i've experienced a few times recently with pizza. Each time some iteration of cheese, meat, honey, and heat made the experience difficult to quite nail down and yet good enough to want to never stop eating. I thought I'd try something similar with a slightly different cast of characters, substituting in roasted olives as a briny, bitter agent that pairs so well with ricotta cheese, spicy chili oil, honey, and lemon. These little toasts have such a cool balance of flavors going on—I can't get enough.
These are a great, unexpected appetizer. Crostini are easy to throw together and always crowd-pleasing. There's a lot of eyeballing, pinching, and drizzling going on with this recipe, as opposed to exact measurements, mostly because it's difficult to mess these up. Just use good, quality ingredients, for everything from the bread to the chili oil, and the result will be divine.
Ricotta toasts with roasted olives and chili oil
Yields about 24 toasts
About a dozen Kalamata olives
1 T olive oil
¾ cup whole milk ricotta
¼ cup shredded parmesan cheese
¼ tsp salt, plus flaky sea salt for sprinkling
Freshly cracked black pepper
Baguette, sliced into ¼ inch thick rounds
Cracked red pepper flakes
Chili oil to drizzle
Honey to drizzle
Zest of a lemon
Squeeze of lemon
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place olives in a baking dish and use hands to coat them with olive oil. Roast for 20 minutes, and remove from oven to let them cool in the baking dish. They will begin to shrivel up a bit as they cool. When you can handle them, slice or tear the olives in half. Meanwhile, combine ricotta with ¼ tsp salt and a good amount of black pepper. Spread baguette rounds onto a baking sheet and broil on Low for 2-3 minutes until just starting to get crusty. Remove from oven and spread about ½ T of the ricotta mixture onto each (you just want an even layer of it). Then top each with a couple olive halves. Return to the broiler on High this time, and broil for 3-5 minutes until toasts are hot and crispy, and ricotta may even start to turn slightly golden in parts. Remove from oven. Transfer toasts to serving plate. Immediately sprinkle with cracked red pepper flakes (a little goes a long way), a thin drizzle of chili oil and honey (about equal parts), lemon zest, and a squeeze of lemon juice, all over the top. Finish with a light sprinkling of flaky sea salt.