East Meets West: From Classic Tuscan Crostini to Himmat’s Fusion Crostini

Good morning everyone,I embarked on the challenge of converting recipes that I’ve used forever in my previous life to recipes that are suitable to my vegetarian diet and to my life with lupus because I wanted a variety of foods for my little family and all our friends to choose from.  I also wanted food that would satisfy our desire for spice and would be at least a little familiar.When I began I sort of had a plan on how this would work and now, only a few posts in, I’m beginning to realize that it is going to be a much bigger challenge that I first thought.  A MUCH bigger challenge.  But oh well, what fun is life if you can’t have a few big challenges to overcome from time to time.

This is what today’s recipe is – a challenge to overcome.  I had to come up with suitable replacements for chicken livers, chicken stock, dry white wine and anchovies.  Anchovies!  (Which I can never find in Whitehorse anyway).  Also, I tried to keep that beautiful Tuscan flavour while still adding a little spicy punch.  Try them and let me know how I did, will you?

The original (yummy) recipe is Classic Tuscan Crostini for the New Basics Cookbook by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins.  Page 3 if you want to try the non-vaishno version which includes chicken livers, wine, and anchovies.  The adapted version I’ve called Himmat’s Fusion Crostini.  These are nice little appetizers which are, in the fusion version, completely vaishno.

Crostini’s are small toasts that are usually spread with a meat or cheese or a combination.  They are really great as a snack as well and this version can be made ahead, stored in the refrigerator and dug into any time the snack urge bites.

Himmat’s Fusion Crostini


2 tbls unsalted butter
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 lb crimini mushrooms, cleaned, trimmed and chopped finely
1 cup onions, chopped
1 cup of vegetable stock (I make my own, a recipe I’ll share later but store bought and low-sodium is also fine)
1 tbsp lemon juice (about the juice of 1/2 lemon)
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tsp crumbled dried sage leaves or 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh sage
2 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
fresh ground pepper, to taste
2 or 3 fresh chilies, finely chopped
A pinch of cumin seed
3 tbsp small capers, drained (you can chop them if they’re large)
6 kalamata olives, pitted and chopped finely
1 1/2 tsp tomato paste
Toasts made from chappatis, pitas, or thinly sliced baguette
Extra virgin olive oil, for assembly
Grated parmesan cheese, for garnishing


Heat the butter and oil in a skillet over medium high heat and saute the mushrooms and onions until the onions are browned, about 10 – 12 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add a little water if necessary to prevent the mushrooms from scorching after they lose their water.  Add the stock, lemon juice, garlic, sage, rosemary and pepper to the mixture in the skillet.  Cook, stirring frequently, until the liquid in the pan has reduced to about a 1/3.  This should take about 4 minutes or so.

Add the capers, chilies, cumin seed, olives and tomato paste.  Stir well and cook for another minute.  Transfer the mixture to a food processor or blender, scraping the skillet well.  Puree the mixture until it is reasonably but not completely smooth.  Remove the mixture to a serving bowl, cover and let sit in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.  Let the pate stand at room temperature 30 minutes before serving.

When you are ready to serve, lightly brush the toasts with olive oil on one side.  Spread the mushroom mixture generously on the toasts, and sprinkle with parmesan cheese to taste.


– chicken livers were replaced by a slightly larger amount of mushrooms
– chicken stock was replaced with vegetable stock
– dry white wine was replaced with 1/2 cup of vegetable stock plus 1 tbsp of lemon juice
– anchovies were replaced with kalamata olives
– French bread toast was replaced with a broader range of options, including the unleavened Indian flatbread – chappatis – that Karan is familiar with

There are plenty of other vegetarian substitutes for these items.  Experiment and let me know what works for you!

Chilies were added to give this dish a bit more punch.  When working with chilies, if you don’t want all the punch that chilies bring but you want the flavour, simply ensure that you remove all of the seeds from the pepper while you are prepping.  If you want even more heat, try a hotter pepper.

I added cumin to kick the fusion flavour up a notch as well.  I love me some cumin and it is so delicious in this recipe – barely there, just a hint but it adds an earthiness that goes so well with the mushrooms.




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