This Goat Cheese Crostini Spread with Preserved Lemons and Balsamic Drizzle is a slight misnomer. I didn’t toast the ciabatta bread so technically it isn’t a crostini appetizer. But I couldn’t find a word that quickly conveyed, “freshly cut untoasted ciabatta bread” so I just went with crostini.
Feel free to toast the ciabatta if you want, but I designed this as a picnic appetizer, where the bread is freshly cut at the picnic site. It is very simple and built around a few very good ingredients.
- Freshly made ciabatta bread from my local grocery store
- Good quality olive oil. I like to try different ones all the time but Copper Hill’s Frantoio is in my pantry all the time for when I want to use a nicer olive oil. This time I used their Meyer Lemon Olive Oil.
- Traditional balsamic vinegar. I tried a different brand this time (Lucero) and ended up liking it quite a bit. It was a blend that really emphasized the California wine bouquet. It also was $12, which is pretty good.
- Preserved Lemons
The preserved lemons are where things get a little complicated. I preserved my own and I know they aren’t exactly the most common of ingredient. I did however see them at my local Nugget Market, which is very similar to Whole Foods. However the ones I saw had a couple of peppers in it and I have no idea how that affects the over all taste.
For assembly, it’s best if you let everyone make their own when they want one. The bread can get soggy from the olive oil and balsamic vinegar if it just sits there during the whole picnic. Putting it together right before eating is the best way to get all the flavors.
Fermenting and Preserving Food
I feel really bad because I’m going to have a lot of posts coming up where I use all the stuff I’ve been pickling and preserving. This is one of the first. Some of the time store-bought brands can easily be substituted (like with standard kimchi, sauerkraut, and pickles).
But for the more creative ferments (kimchi asparagus pickles, lemon and dill kraut, etc.) I don’t know what brands/products to point people to. And I didn’t think to record through pictures or videos my ferments because I was teaching myself how to do it. I’ve been learning through Kristen and Christopher Shockey’s book Fermented Vegetables.
It’s a great resource and I love it. Fermenting foods is one of those tasks that seem hard and scary but is actually easy. You spend a certain amount of time preparing everything (usually 15 minutes to an hour) and then the rest is just waiting 3 to 21 days while nature works.
There is some maintenance involved, like checking to make sure everything remains submerged, mopping up spillage, and checking for mold. It’s starting to get warm, so I’ve had to add an ice pack to the cooler out in the garage where I keep my ferments, and I might have to eventually move it indoors.
I’m going to provide instructions on how I preserved my lemons, all of which I based off a recipe in the book Fermented Vegetables. I’ve learned that fermenting food is different every single time and that I am always adjusting the tools I use, the ingredients, and routines.
Goat Cheese Crostini Spread with Preserved Lemon and Balsamic Drizzle
- 8 ounces soft goat cheese
- 3 tablespoons finely diced preserved lemon about 3 lemon quarters
- 1 teaspoon preserved lemon juices
- slices of ciabatta bread
- good quality olive oil
- good quality traditional balsamic vinegar
With an electric mixer, beat the goat cheese, preserved lemon, and juice until smooth.
Spread on top of sliced ciabatta and drizzle good quality olive oil and balsamic vinegar on top. Eat immediately.
- 8 lemons
- 1/2 to 1 cup unrefined sea salt
- 32 ounce wide mouth mason jar
- 1 quart zip lock bag or small 8 ounce mason jar with lid
Cut the top ¼ inch off 8 lemons
Quarter lemons length wise without actually slicing through the bottom
Put the lemons in a bowl and rub a ½ cup to 1 cup of unrefined sea salt on the outside and inside of the lemons. It’s okay if some of them break apart.
Pack the lemons into a 32-ounce wide mouth mason jar, using your fist to press the lemons down. I was able to squeeze and press down eight Meyer lemons and there was plenty of brine (the juices created from rubbing and pressing the lemons with salt) to cover them. If you don’t get enough brine though, squeeze some fresh lemon juice until the lemons are completely covered.
Top the lemons with 2 tablespoons of unrefined sea salt.
There are a couple of things you can use as weights to make sure the lemons stay submerged. I use smaller mason jars filled with water but you can also top it with a quart sized zip lock bag filled with water.
I set aside my ferment in a cooler out in the garage, where the temperature stays cool. The ideal temperature range is 55 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. I place a paper towel over the top but you can use a clean dishcloth too (this lets air escape-which is crucial to the fermentation process-but keeps out bugs, dust, and other contaminants).
After 21 days the lemons will be ready, but check everyday to make sure the brine is covering the lemons completely and that no mold has formed.
The lemons will be a deep golden yellow color and the brine will be thicker and richer.