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RECIPE: Summer Squash Crostini With Goat Cheese

Don’t let summer slip away without trying this sunny bruschetta, for breakfast, lunch, snack or a first course at dinner.

It was created by Kelley Epstein of Mountain Mama Cooks (her mountain is in Park City, Utah). The recipe was sent to us by Vermont Creamery.

You can use flavored goat cheese instead of plain. Vermont Creamery makes Creamy Goat Cheese in Classic, Olive & Herb and Roasted Red Pepper, all of which work well with summer squash.

If you don’t have spreadable goat cheese, use a goat cheese log at room temperature, which makes it more spreadable.

Ingredients For 4 Large Or 8 Small Pieces

  • 1 small zucchini, thinly sliced
  • 1 small summer squash, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Juice of 1/2 ripe lemon
  • Pinch salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • 3 oz Vermont Creamery Plain Creamy Goat Cheese or substitute
  • 1 tablespoon fresh dill
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Pinch ground black pepper
  • 4 slices crusty baguette or french bread, toasted or grilled

    1. SLICE the zucchini and yellow squash as thinly as possible, using a mandoline or sharp knife.

    2. COMBINE the squash, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Let it sit for 30 minutes or so until ready to serve. Then…

    3. TOAST the baguette slices. While they toast…

    4. COMBINE the goat cheese mixture in a food processor with the dill, lemon zest and pepper. Pulse until smooth and incorporated.

    5. SPREAD the goat cheese on each slice of bread and top with zucchini and yellow squash. Top each bruschetta with extra fresh dill and a sprinkle of kosher or coarse sea salt and pepper, if desired.

    The answer, in brief, is the size of the slice, plus grilling versus toasting.


    Summer Squash Bruschetta
    [1] Eat your vegetables…on bruschetta or crostini. The differences are below (this photo shows bruschetta, a larger slice that is grilled instead of toasted; photo courtesy Mountain Mama Cooks).

    Summer Squash
    [2] Zucchini and yellow summer squash (photo courtesy Produce On Parade).

    Vermont Creamery Spreadable Goat Cheese

    [3] Vermont Creamery’s spreadable goat cheese in three varieties: original, olive & herb and roasted red pepper (photo courtesy Vermont Creamery).

    Bruschetta (three or four inches in diameter) are cut from an Italian loaf and grilled; crostini (about two inches in diameter) are cut from a thinner loaf like a baguette, and toasted.

    Bruschetta (pronounced broo-SKEH-tuh) are grilled bread rubbed with garlic and topped with any variety of items. The toppings can be as simple as extra-virgin olive oil, salt and pepper, to diced tomatoes and basil, to almost any spread, vegetable, cured meat or cheese—even fruit.

    Bruschetta originated in the Tuscany region of Italy, where it is commonly served as a snack or appetizer. It may have been the original garlic bread.

    The word comes from the verb bruscare in Roman dialect, which means “to roast over coals.” If you have access to a grill, grill the bread for authenticity. If not, you can toast it.

    Some American manufacturers and others in the food industry misuse the term, using it to refer to the topping only and selling jars of “bruschetta” (it should be bruschetta topping). Show your superior knowledge and don’t allow the term to be distorted: The word bruschetta refers to the grilled bread, not the topping.

    Crostini (cruh-STEE-nee) are croutons: not in the American sense of small cubes tossed into soup or salad, but thin slices of toasted bread.

    Smaller than bruschetta, the slices can be cut from a ficelle, a thinner baguette one to two inches wide (the word is French for “string”), or from a thinner baguette. The slices are brushed with olive oil, toasted and then topped with spreadable cheese, pâté or other ingredients. Plain crostini are served with soups and salads, like melba toast, or set out with cheese.

    Final take:

  • Large slice grilled = bruschetta.
  • Small slice toasted = crostini.
    An easy memory aid: Crostini = crouton in French. Croutons are toasted (in the oven), not grilled over coals.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Replace Croutons With Fried Potato Cubes (Gluten Free!)

    Potato Croutons
    [1] Potato croutons plus bread croutons garnish this wedge salad. Photo and recipe courtesy Idaho Potato Commission.

    Sweet Potato Croutons

    [2] For other salads, you can make sweet potato croutons. Here’s the recipe and salad ideas from Eating Bird Food.


    If you like croutons on your salad (and how many of us do not), here’s an idea from the Idaho Potato Commission:

    Substitute crispy, fried potato “croutons” instead of bread. They’re gluten-free, but can be combined with conventional bread croutons for a layered texture-flavor approach.

    If you reach for the most well-done french fries, this recipe is for you!

    In this recipe the Idaho folks used the retro wedge salad. This one is loaded with bacon, cheese, potatoes, croutons (both bread and potato).

    The recipe was created by Jonathan Melendez of The Candid Appetite. He uses feta instead of the conventional blue cheese (we love either).

    Time-Saving Tip: The different salad components can be made and prepped the day before and assembled on the next day.


    Ingredients for 4 Servings

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
  • 3 medium Idaho russet potatoes, rinsed and thinly sliced or diced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 large iceberg lettuce, quartered
  • ¾ cup buttermilk ranch dressing (recipe—we also like blue cheese dressing)
  • 8 slices crispy bacon, chopped
  • 1-pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • ¼ cup thinly sliced red onion
  • ½ cup croutons
  • ¼ cup crumbled feta cheese (substitute blue cheese)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

    1. SET a large skillet over medium-high heat with the oil. Once hot, add the potatoes and cook until crispy, browned and softened, about 15 to 20 minutes. Stir them occasionally so that they cook and brown evenly.

    2. SEASON with salt, pepper and rosemary.

    3. ASSEMBLE the salads: Arrange the iceberg quarters on a platter. Drizzle each wedge with dressing, and top with potatoes, bacon, tomatoes, red onion, croutons feta cheese and chives. Serve immediately and enjoy!




    TIP OF THE DAY: 10 Uses For Croutons & Jumbo Croutons

    Jumbo Croutons
    [1] Our idea of croutons on salad (photo courtesy MorningStar Farms.

    [2] If you want to bake your own ciabatta, here’s a recipe from Brown Eyed Baker.

    Dried Oregano

    [3] Premium dried oregano from Rancho Gordo.


    We love good bread. Buttery or cracker-dry, fine or rustic crumb, plain or seasoned, tall or flat, soft or crusty, made with any type of flour, with or without inclusions (cheese, dried fruits, nuts…): All are welcome.

    If you’re a bread lover, you’re likely a crouton lover, too. Can there be too many croutons served with salad or soup?

    Maybe, but the bar is high.

    When we saw this photo from MorningStar Farms, we were decided that our lunch would be salad with a topping of croutons. Big, garlicky ones, like crunchy garlic bread.

    You don’t have to toss them on the salad. If you prefer, serve them on the side.


    You can make croutons in whatever size and shape you like—even using cookie cutters for hearts or other shapes. The ingredients are similar; only the size of the bread varies.

    For jumbo croutons, look for an oblong loaf so you can cut biscotti- or mini-biscotti-size slices as shown in the photo. We used a ciabatta loaf.


    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F, with a rack positioned in the center.

    2. ADD the oil to a saucepan, along with the the garlic, oregano, basil, thyme, salt and pepper. Simmer for 5 minutes; discard the garlic.

    3. TOSS the bread cubes in a bowl toss with the seasoned oil. Spread them onto a jelly-roll pan (a baking sheet with a rim) and bake them for 8 minutes.

    4. SPRINKLE the croutons with the parmesan and bake them for another 7 minutes, or until they are golden brown (if you’re not using cheese, simply bake for the additional 7 minutes). Remove from the oven.

    5. TASTE a crouton and sprinkle with additional salt and pepper as desired. Cool. Croutons will keep in an airtight container for a week. for tossed green salad.


  • 2 large garlic cloves, sliced thin lengthwise
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil, crumbled
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme, crumbled
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt (we used truffle salt—use whatever flavor you have)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly-ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup olive oil (substitute butter)
  • 1 loaf of bread of choice: baguette, ciabatta, Italian bread, cut as desired
  • Optional: 1/4 cup finely grated fresh Parmesan

  • Cheese grits/polenta garnish
  • Crouton snack mix (like Chex Party Mix, but with croutons)
  • Green salad garnish
  • Grilled fish garnish or pulsed for a crust
  • Pasta with olive oil, mac and cheese (pulse into coarse crumbs as desired)
  • Sauce thickener
  • Scrambled eggs
  • Soup garnish
  • Stuffing
  • Stuffed* pepper or stuffed tomato garnish
    Too many croutons? You can pulse them into bread crumbs.


    *Stuff with a protein salad: chicken, crab, egg, tuna or shrimp salad.


    TIP OF THE DAY: Put Fruit On Your Sandwiches

    You put cranberry sauce on turkey sandwiches, don’t you? Mango chutney on chicken or cheddar sandwiches? Goat cheese or brie with fig jam?

    How about fresh fruit?

    Fruit and cheese, a perfect complement on a plate, do equally well on a baguette, croissant or other bread.

    Lush stone fruits are a perfect complement, particularly ripe and juicy nectarines, peaches and plums. (With a sandwich, even barely-ripe works).

    In the cooler months, turn to apples, grapes, pears, orange, raisins and other dried fruits, including coconut.

  • Slice or dice the fruit as you prefer.
  • Consider turning fruit and berries into a compote.
  • You can also turn the fruit into a spread, by pulsing in a blender or food processor. Add a pinch of cinnamon or nutmeg.
  • In an hour, you can pickle the fruits, alone or with onions.
  • Grill, toast, pan-fry or use your panini press as you wish.
  • Before adding the top slice of bread, sprinkle some raisins or dried blueberries/cherries/cranberries and nuts on the filling.
  • Try a sweeter condiment: honey mustard, mayo mixed with a bit of jam, mostarda. As appropriate, use a drizzle of balsamic, honey, even barbecue sauce
  • Play with different breads: not just whole grain, but baguette, brioche, ciabatta, croissants, Portuguese sweet bread (like King’s Hawaiian), etc.
  • Add fresh herbs: basil, chives, cilantro, dill, rosemary or other favorite.
  • Sweet onion adds a counterpoint, as does a bit of heat: cracked black pepper, sliced or minced chiles, red pepper flakes.

  • Blue cheese with peaches or nectarines
  • Brie with apricots, blueberries, fresh basil and a honey drizzle
  • Creamy blue (Castello, Dolcetta, St. Agur) with peaches or nectarines
  • Cotija or feta with guava
  • Feta with watermelon and basil
  • Goat cheese with mixed berries (blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries) and a honey drizzle
  • Goat cheese with stone fruit: apricots, nectarines, peaches, plums
  • Goat cheese with fresh figs
  • Mozzarella with cantaloupe, basil leaves, optional pimento
  • Mozzarella or burrata with fresh figs (or any fruit)
  • Smoked gouda or smoked mozzarella with plum

  • Blue cheese and pear
  • Brie with apple, grape, mango or pear on baguette
  • Cheddar and Granny Smith apple, with a sprinkling of raisins and toasted pecans/walnuts
  • Chicken, egg or tuna salad (or curried chicken/tuna/egg salad) with grapes; with Delicious or other sweet apple; with kiwi or pear
  • Cream cheese with any fruit: apples, berries, grapes, pears, etc.
  • Fried paneer or halloumi with mango
  • Goat cheese with dried fruits, figs, raspberries, strawberries and optional chopped pistachios or toasted pecans
  • Grilled cheese or panini with Granny Smith apple and caramelized onion
  • Grilled proscuitto with mozzarella with fig (fresh, dried, jam)
  • Grilled tofu and pineapple with a drizzle of barbecue sauce.
  • Ham and cheese with pineapple
  • Mozzarella with sliced strawberries and a balsamic glaze drizzle
  • Waldorf chicken salad (with apples, grapes, celery, chives and toasted walnuts) on a croissants

  • Grilled gjetost* cheese (photo #5) with apples on cinnamon-raisin bread
  • Grilled brie on pound cake with fig jam
  • ________________

    *Gjetost (JEE-nust) is a unique, caramelized, fudgy cheese that some say tastes like dulce de leche or a Sugar Daddy. A blend of cow’s and goat’s milk is boiled until caramelization occurs, then packed into blocks. The taste is super unique but If I had to compare it to something, I wo.

    This recipe from Good Eggs was the inspiration for today’s tip. The recipe was adapted from one in Samin Nosrat’s cookbook, Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking.

    This recipe works well as a wrap and go sandwich for lunch or snacks.
    Ingredients For 4 Sandwiches

  • 1 log goat cheese
  • 1 baguette
  • 1 pound peaches (substitute nectarines)
  • Cilantro or other herb

    Goat Cheese & Peach Sandwich
    [1] For a sweet touch, add fruit to your sandwiches. The recipe for this goat cheese, peach and cilantro baguette is below (photo courtesy Good Eggs).

    Mixed Stone Fruit
    [2] In the summer, head for the stone fruits. Slice ‘em, dice ‘em, picked ‘em (photo courtesy Washington State Fruit Commission).

    Bowl of Grapes
    [3] Grapes are available year-round. Pick red grapes for more color, and be sure they’re seedless (photo courtesy Sun World).

    Mixed Berries
    [4] Berries are a treat on cheese sandwiches. Even if they’re not sweet enough for eating plain, no added sugar is needed on a sandwich (photo courtesy Green Giant Fresh).

    Gjetost Norwegian Cheese

    [5] Gjetost, a caramelized cheese from Norway that tastes like dulce de leche.


    1. SLICE the baguette into 4 pieces, and slice each in half. Toast as desired.

    2. SLICE the log of goat cheese into 8 coins.

    3. SLICE around the hemisphere of each peach, and twist to pull apart. Remove the pit, and slice the peach into wedges.

    4. PICK the cilantro leaves from their stems.

    5. ASSEMBLE: Layer 2 slices of goat cheese onto four of the slices of baguette, and top with a few peach wedges and cilantro leaves. Top each sandwich with another slice of bread, and serve.


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    GLUTEN FREE: Three Bakers Snackers Crackers

    A gluten-free recommendation from Georgi Page-Smith, who reports on GF products for THE NIBBLE.

    One of the perks of my gluten-free lifestyle is the license I give myself to eat limitless quantities of cheese.

    Years ago I indulged my cheese cravings with perhaps the best cheese crackers ever to exist (including Cheez-Its): Gluten Free Cheddar Snackers, by The Grainless Baker.

    These crackers were unabashedly rich and cheesy, with just the right melt-in-your-mouth crumb. I purchased them in bulk from a local store until they were discontinued by the store; then I stalked them online.

    One day in 2011 the crackers disappeared completely. I searched, I Googled…and I found the Grainless Baker website. It said that the company had recently joined forces with The Gluten Free Food Group and would be replacing their old products with a new gluten-free product line under a new brand name, Three Bakers.

    I joined their Facebook community and waited to hear about the rollout. I think I even wrote a sad note “beg-couraging” them to not change their Cheddar Snackers formula. And then I cold-stored the information in a mental box with other sad things and doubled-down on my brie consumption.

    Recently, however, these crackers drifted into my mind again and I went to check their Facebook page for an update. The page was defunct and a cheerful selection of Snackers were now available from the Three Bakers website!

    I swung into action and within days, four bags of Snackers—Cheddar, Chocolate Chip, Chocolate Chocolate Chip and Honey Graham flavors—arrived at my doorstep. That was Friday. As of this Sunday’s writing there is about one-quarter of one of the bags left. They were that good.

    Four Flavors, Cheesy Or Sweet

    The Cheddar Snackers, though not as intense and decadent an experience as the originals, are incredibly good. The flavor is authentic tangy-and-toasty cheese, and they are quite light, delivering more flavor than you would expect in such a small package. The only downside on these was the texture, which was slightly more brittle than the other Snackers.

    Use them as dippers, as croutons on salad or chili (photo #1), in a crust for apple pie or pot pie, as a garnish on mac and cheese, or as a snack with apple wedges.

    The Chocolate Chip Snackers, with only 4 grams of sugar and 90 calories per 1 ounce serving, were simply scrumptious, with a gently dissolving crumb that quickly delivers the flavor to every part of your mouth. Best of all they are not too sweet, with no cloying aftertaste!


    Three Bakers Cheddar Snackers
    [1] Cheddar snackers add some crunch to chili (photo courtesy Three Bakers).

    Three Bakers Snackers Chocolate Chip
    [2] Time for dessert: chocolate chip snackers with ice cream (photo courtesy Gluten Free Palate.

    Three Bakers Snackers Crackers

    [3] Just plain snacking (photo courtesy Gluten Free Palate).

    The chocolate is of a high enough quality to carry the cookie, without additional sweeteners. The Chocolate Chocolate Chip Snackers increase the chocolate ratio, for aficionados.

    The Honey Graham Snackers deliver a very tasty, roasty flavor— again, with a gorgeous texture. These would also be fantastic on an ice cream sundae (photo #2), or crushed up to use in a crust. I was also impressed with the low sugar level, at 1 gram per 1 ounce serving, it made it that much easier to eat the whole bag.

    All Three Bakers’ Snackers are Ccrtified gluten-free by the Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG) and are made with non-GMO ingredients. The whole grains provide a source of fiber and the low sugar and salt mean that you can feel good about serving them to kids.

    Three Bakers also produces gluten-free breads, buns, pizzas and more. The products are available across the country; here’s a store locator.

    For more information head to

    —Georgi Page-Smith


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