Small Plates

By Nicole Franzen | April 26, 2011

Photo: Nicole Franzen

I love crostini, its simple and easy to prepare. Depending on what’s in season and at the market should be your inspiration.

I chose ramps, cremini mushrooms and broccoli rabe. Ramps have just started appearing at the Farmer’s market. Ramps are a wild leek that pops up in the first weeks of spring. They are perfect grilled, roasted, pickled or made into sauces. I choose some cremini mushrooms but you could use any assortment of wild mushrooms available. I also picked up some “winter” broccoli rabe, which is known to be less bitter. One of my favorite cheeses is from Hawthorne Valley Farm in Ghent, New York. They make a Farmer’s Cheese called “Bianca” which is rolled in herbes de Provence and made from cow’s milk. You could use any type of cheese; something like goat cheese or ricotta would be a nice substitute.

Photo: Nicole Franzen

Nicole Franzen is a food, travel, and lifestyle photographer, Nicole captures food and light in a fresh and original way, elevating the subjects beyond their quotidien means. In her cooking, she keeps her recipes simple and fresh, to showcase how easy it can be to create delicious food. Visit her website:, become a fan of her Facebook Fan Page here or follow her on Twitter.

Photographer: Nicole Franzen

  • 1 bunch of ramps
  • 1 pound of wild mushrooms
  • 1 bunch of broccoli rabe
  • 1 loaf of bread(I used a sesame baguette)
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 lemon
  • Fresh basil, or your favorite herb
  • Herbed farmer's cheese
  • Olive oil
  • 1 lemon
  • Sea salt and pepper


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Rinse and remove any excess dirty leaves from the ramps. Place on a sheet pan and drizzle a little olive oil, season with salt and pepper.

3. Using a damp rag clean the dirt off the mushrooms. Slice mushrooms and place on another sheet pan, again drizzle with olive oil and season. Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes until golden brown. Ramps may take slightly less time.

4. Meanwhile rinse your broccoli rabe. In a large saute pan on medium heat add olive oil to coat and then add chopped broccoli and one clove of garlic minced. Saute till tender about 4 minutes and set aside.

5. Slice your bread into even slices and toast. You can either place under the broiler, watching closely and flipping, or in the toaster.

6. Composing the crostini; I chose to use the farmer's cheese on one topped with the roasted ramps and lemon zest. On the other I placed the broccoli rabe with some shaved Parmesan. And lastly with the Cremini mushrooms I used the same farmers cheese with the addition of fresh basil. Drizzle the crostini with some good olive oil, some sea salt and lemon zest. Things like sea salt and lemon zest really make the flavors pop. Enjoy.

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