Homegrown Chef: Cranberry Crostini with Sautéed Mushrooms and Shallots

PERHAPS NO FRUIT HAS COME TO SYMBOLIZE A PARTICULAR TIME OF THE YEAR more than cranberries. Cranberries are virtually synonymous with the holidays. November and December wouldn’t be the same without my mom’s cranberry apple gelatin salad, or my aunt’s cranberry bread, or my mother-in-law’s cranberry orange sauce, as well as the canned version tipped onto a plate.

While fresh cranberries are rare in my house past New Year’s, I use the dried version year-round. I add them to homemade granola, or sprinkle them on steel cut oats, or stir them into this earthy mushroom appetizer for a little zing.

These crostini are perfect for impromptu gatherings during the holidays and beyond. You can either put them out assembled, or leave them deconstructed for guests to top with the cheese and cranberry-mushroom mixture on their own. If you don’t have time to make the crostini, they are just as delicious on freshly cut baguette slices or crackers. They can be served warm or at room temperature, allowing you to spend more time with friends and family.

Cranberry Crostini with Sautéed Mushrooms and Shallots

Makes 12 | Prep time: 10 minutes | Cook time: 20 minutes

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon butter ½ cup peeled and minced shallots

5 cups sliced mushrooms—cremini, shiitake, button, or your favorites

½ teaspoon salt

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

¼ cup dried cranberries (preferably unsweetened)

1 tablespoon minced parsley

Softened goat cheese, or brie cheese

1 baguette sliced in thin rounds

Olive oil

Optional: parsley leaves for garnish

Preheat oven to 350. In a medium saucepan, melt and heat butter and olive oil. Add shallots and caramelize over low heat for 8 to 10 minutes. Take care not to burn. While shallots are cooking, brush bread slices with olive oil. Place on a cookie sheet and pop in a preheated oven to toast for about 10 minutes. Turn up the stovetop heat to medium. Add mushrooms, salt and pepper to the shallots. Sauté mushrooms until tender and lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Turn heat off. Stir in cranberries and parsley.

Spread goat cheese or brie on each toasted bread slice. Top with a scoop of cranberry-mushroom mixture. Finish with a sprig of parsley for garnish. Set them out on a platter for holiday guests and watch them disappear.

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