Can something so simple be so tasty? Absolutely! Crostini with Gorgonzola and Prune Chutney are little bites with big flavor, thanks to prunes reduced in wine and balsamic vinegar. You’ll never think of prunes the same way again, I promise!
So, when it comes to entertaining, it’s no secret that I favor small bites to elaborate dinner parties. This wasn’t always the case — once upon a time, I loved the idea of a formal-ish dinner party, with courses and wine, and lingering over the dinner table way past dessert.
But fast forward to a life filled with children and pets and work, and everything that accompanies the lot, and I much prefer something more relaxed — for both host and guests. As it is, finding the time to even host friends can be a big challenge, so when you finally get something on the calendar, the less fussy, the better. Wine is always included, that will never change. And cheese. Always cheese.
A few weeks ago, I found myself in a large kitchen in the city (San Francisco), alongside Jenn from Yummy Healthy Easy, Rachel from The Chic Site, and none other than the lovely chef Sara Moulton. It was an intimate day hosted by my friends at Sunsweet (remember that baked oatmeal stuffed acorn squash I shared with you last week?). I didn’t get a chance to tell you all about it, but there are some Facebook live videos where you can catch some of the fun we had cooking all day.
There was one thing Jenn, Rachel and I were nervously anticipating. A mystery basket challenge awaited us after lunch, where we would be given the task of creating a recipe featuring prunes. Yes, on the fly! Now, I’ve watched my fair share of Chopped and Top Chef, so you can imagine how nervous I was! Would there be fighting over ingredients? Stealing of oven space? Snide remarks during the tasting?
I’m relieved to let you know there was nothing to worry about.
Everyone there, from Sunsweet to Sara Moulton, were extremely sweet, and we were reminded again and again that this wasn’t a competition and not to be anxious. Having Sara Moulton as a teacher and a guide, and simply to chat with as I chopped shallots and prunes, was one of the most memorable cooking experiences in my life. I loved how she mentored each of us, tasted our dishes along the way, and just chatted about life in general. It was the perfect day in the kitchen!
So what did I make? I kept thinking of a chutney, for some reason. And in my basket, I was rewarded with a bottle of balsamic wine, good bread, walnuts, apricot jam, and of course, prunes. In the kitchen, there was a bottle of wine and good cheese, so Sara poured us all a glass, I took what was left in the bottle, and sipped and cooked the afternoon away.
I loved how the fragrant olive oil toasted the bread beautifully, and how earthy blue cheese mingled with the tangy prune chutney that was so bold in flavor from the wine, balsamic vinegar, prune juice and apricot jam. Each bite was crunchy, sweet and very savory — you know how much I love these kinds of flavors!
The chutney itself is wonderful to keep on hand in the refrigerator – besides making these appetizers so easy to assemble in a jiffy, it would also be wonderful on roasted chicken or grilled pork chops, or anything that needs a pop of flavor.
In my case, I made another batch over the weekend, and took some, along with a wedge of blue cheese and a baguette, for a holiday potluck. It went perfectly with the wine, and of course, with good friends. Because that, of course, is the best part of entertaining, don’t you think?
I developed this recipe while I attended a Sunsweet event, however, this post is not sponsored. I just had to share this recipe with you! Check out Jenn’s Soft and Chewy Oatmeal Date Cookies and Rachel’s Prune Sticky Toffee Pudding!
Crostini with Gorgonzola and Prune Chutney
Crostini with Gorgonzola and Prune Chutney are little bites with BIG flavor, thanks to prunes reduced in wine and balsamic vinegar. Such an easy appetizer!
- 2 tablespoons good olive oil, divided
- 2 shallots, finely minced
- kosher salt, to taste
- 3/4 cup red wine (such as a cabernet sauvignon)
- 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
- 8 oz prunes, chopped (see notes)
- 1/2 cup prune juice
- 1/4 cup apricot preserves
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 baguette, sliced in 1/4 inch rounds
- 7.5 ounces Gorgonzola cheese (or your favorite blue cheese)
- fresh thyme, for serving
- candied walnuts, for serving
In a medium saucepan, heat the 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over low heat. Add the shallots, season lightly with salt, and cook, stirring periodically, until the shallots are translucent. Try not to brown them.
Add the wine and vinegar, raise the heat to medium, and when it comes to a bubble, lower the heat to let it simmer, cooking for about 5 minutes, or until the liquid has reduced somewhat.
Stir in the prunes, prune juice, apricot preserves, garlic and cayenne pepper. Let it simmer for about 7-10 minutes, or until the chutney is thick and flavorful. Adjust seasoning with salt, if necessary. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
Preheat the broiler and place a rack about 6 inches below the heat source. On a lined baking sheet, lightly brush the sliced baguette with the olive oil and arrange in a single layer. Place the crostini under the broiler and let it toast, watching very carefully. This should take just a few minutes, and can easily burn if left unattended. Remove the crostini from the oven when golden brown.
To serve, spread a dollop of gorgonzola cheese on the crostini and drizzle with the prune chutney. Garnish with fresh thyme and candied walnuts.
The crostinis can be served warm or room temperature.
While you can buy diced prunes (which I love for snacking), I prefer the whole prune in this recipe, as they are more plump and meaty. It’s worth taking the time to chop them. One trick I learned is to brush your knife with a little oil before slicing so the prunes do not stick.
This will yield about 2 cups of compote. 1 cup is adequate for the crostini recipe; save the rest in the refrigerator and try it on grilled chicken or pork chops!
Make ahead tips:
This appetizer is great because you can make both the prune chutney and the crostini up to a day ahead. Store prepared chutney in a glass jar in the refrigerator until ready to use, reheating before serving.
For the crostini, once the bread is toasted and cooled, store in an airtight container until ready to assemble.