This weekend, Cookie and I hitched a ride down to Tulsa for Friendsgiving. Four hours later, we stretched our limbs outside the car as our dear old friends came outside to greet us. Hugs all around. The rest of the day was one long, happy blur full of good food and good company.
As always, Michael cooked the turkey. Emily made a giant green salad. Jordan’s pecan pie survived a trunk mishap. I brought the cranberry cornbread and eagerly stole little bits of crispy onions off the green bean casserole as I stood in line (sorry, Jes).
Nate brought homemade cranberry sauce, which was leaps and bounds better than the gelatinous, ridged glob of canned cranberry sauce that I remembered from college Friendsgivings. Those were the days when Pabst Blue Ribbon tall boys littered the table. This year, I still didn’t eat the turkey, but I went back for seconds of the cranberry sauce. Bright and bursting with sweet-tart cranberry flavor, it made a great jelly for my roll and livened up the mashed sweet potatoes.
As I polished off my plate, I wondered why Americans ever resort to canned cranberry sauce. It’s a travesty, especially considering that fresh cranberry sauce takes about five minutes to make. Five minutes!
I decided to highlight cranberry sauce with these crostini. Crusty whole grain bread, topped with tangy goat cheese and bold cranberry-orange sauce, makes for a stunning (and super simple) appetizer. Serve the crostini before Thanksgiving dinner or at any of your other holiday festivities this fall and winter.
This recipe yields more cranberry sauce than you’ll likely need for the crostini. You can swirl leftover sauce into oatmeal or granola and yogurt for a filling breakfast. It would be a killer addition to a grilled cheese sandwich made with whole grain bread and brie, too.
You can use any type of bread that you’d like, of course, but I really love the nutty flavor of hearty, whole grain bread paired with sweet cranberry sauce and cheese. It’s more nutritious, too. For more information about the health benefits of whole grains, visit GrainsforYourBrain.org.
- 1 small loaf of artisan whole grain bread, sliced into ½-inch thick slices
- 2+ tablespoons olive oil
- sea salt
- 10 ounces goat cheese, preferably at room temperature (Brie, ricotta, or cream cheese would be fine substitutes)
- ½ cup+ honey
- ½ cup water
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 (12-ounce) bag fresh cranberries
- Zest of 1 orange (orange part only), divided
- Toast the bread: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly brush both sides of each slice of bread with olive oil and arrange them in a single layer on a baking sheet. Lightly sprinkle the slices with salt. Toast the bread in the oven for 10 to 12 minutes, turning halfway, until the slices are lightly golden on both sides. Set the pan aside to cool.
- Make the cranberry sauce: Rinse the cranberries and toss any squishy ones. In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, bring ½ cup water, honey, cinnamon, cloves and allspice to a gentle boil. Add the cranberries and cook, stirring frequently, for about 3 minutes or until the cranberries have popped and the sauce is starting to look, well, saucy. Remove from heat and stir in about two-thirds of the orange zest.
- Assemble the crostini: Top each slice of toast with a generous spread of cheese, then cranberry sauce and a light sprinkle of orange zest. Serve.
- Cranberry sauce adapted from Shockingly Delicious and my cranberry orange steel-cut oatmeal.
- This recipe yields around a cup of extra cranberry sauce, which would be a great addition to the Thanksgiving table. Serve leftovers on toast or stirred into oatmeal or yogurt. It should store well, refrigerated in an air-tight container, for up to 1 month.
Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Grains for Your Brain and I received compensation for my participation. Thank you for supporting the sponsors who allow me to serve up more recipes. Opinions are my own, always.