With layers of hummus, marinated cashews, and grilled artichoke hearts, this artichoke crostini is a delightfully light & flavorful starter for summer get-togethers. Or if you’re anything like me, make a meal out of them along with a simple side salad.
Everything is lighter in the summer. Heavy coats and boots with ties give way to gauzy dresses and sandals.
At the winter holidays when friends come over, we spend all day making filling, elaborate dishes that warm our insides against the biting weather outside.
But in the summer we fire up the grill, pull out an assortment of mustard and pickles, and say, “Come on over. We’ll be on the deck.”
We’ve had friends over for cookouts already this year. What a joy to have the extent of dinner being making a simple salad and slicing some buns.
I feel present in a totally different way than during holiday gatherings when the expectations are higher. I can just chat with friends without worrying that something is going to burn in the oven or won’t quite turn out right.
So I’ve been making vegan finger foods to start that are similarly fuss free. Everything can be prepped before guests arrive, and then it’s just a matter of topping some crostini.
It’s easy to eat one vegan crostini right after the other. The mixture of cool creamy hummus as a bed for briny cashews and savory artichoke hearts balances beautifully.
How to prepare the crostini
The crostini can be toasted in the oven, air fryer, or grilled on an outdoor grill. I give all of the options in the recipe card below.
In the air fryer, the bread toasts in just four minutes. (Depending on how much crostini you want to make, you may have to work in batches since overfilling an air fryer brings less than desirable results.) Make sure to really keep an eye on it that last minute. It has a way of going from toasty brown to overdone in a moment’s notice.
There are just three steps in topping the toasted crostini:
- Spread homemade hummus onto the toasted bread.
- Sprinkle on marinated cashews.
- Finish it off by placing a sliver of grilled artichoke heart onto each crostini.
Homemade hummus is easy to make, but of course, if you’d rather use store-bought for simplicity’s sake, that’s fine too.
To make marinated cashews, simply toss raw cashew pieces with seasonings, microplane zested garlic, vinegar, and olive oil. Then allow the raw cashew pieces to soak up the marinating liquid in the refrigerator until they are softened and flavorful. Stir the cashew pieces occasionally for even coating.
I started making marinated cashews years ago when I heard about them in Vegan Eats World by Terry Hope Romero.
Terry calls it cashew faux feta. While it wouldn’t fool anyone into thinking it’s the same as animal-based feta, it does a good job of standing in for feta in dishes. With its specific briny flavor, it works well in all of the places that animal-based feta would.
Over the years I’ve simplified the way I do it, and changed up the herbs and seasonings. The original is also terrific, though, and you can find that here as part of her Greek Village Salad.
I give two options on the vinegar in the marinating liquid – either balsamic vinegar or ume plum vinegar. The balsamic vinegar gives the cashews a bit of sweetness, while the ume plum vinegar imparts more of a cheesy quality.
By allowing the cashews to marinate for at least a few hours, they soak up the marinating liquid and soften. If you’re short on time, though, even a half an hour will do. They will be a little crunchier, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
The marinated cashews will last for several days in the fridge. When I’m not using them for artichoke crostini, I also like to pull from them to top my avocado toast in the morning and finish salads. They work particularly well with a balsamic vinaigrette or balsamic glaze.
(If you’d prefer a non-dairy feta that has more of the classic texture, check out this vegan feta cheese recipe. It’s made with almonds.)
Grilled artichoke hearts
The grilled artichoke hearts are sold halved in oil. They are one of my favorite vegan Trader Joe’s products. But I’ve also seen them at Hy-Vee with the other artichoke hearts. (They were a different brand, of course, but just as good.)
I’ve never met an artichoke heart I didn’t like. However, the grilled flavor of these oil-packed halves takes them up a further notch.
When you’re slicing the halves, I’ve found that they slice the best when using a butter knife, as opposed to a serrated knife.
And if you really want to go the relaxed route for your gathering, just put out the toppings and warmed bread, and let the guests help themselves.
If you have an abundance of summer tomatoes, these vegan crostini go well with a bruschetta appetizer. They would also work well with warmed Castelvetrano olives, vegan ceviche with hearts of palm, roasted asparagus bruschetta, or vegan crab rangoon.
Artichoke crostini with hummus & marinated cashews
To make marinated cashews
- In a bowl, combine raw cashew pieces with extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, balsamic or ume plum vinegar, dried basil, dried oregano, granulated onion, zested garlic, and a pinch of salt.
- Cover and put in the refrigerator to soften. Stir occasionally, so that the cashews stay moist and are evenly coated in seasonings. Allow the cashews to absorb the marinade for a few hours or more. (It can even be made a day in advance.)
To make artichoke crostini
- The crostini can be toasted in a variety of ways - pick either theair fryer, grill, or oven.
- To toast the crostini in the air fryer, put half of the baguette slices in the air fryer. Some overlap is okay. Cook at 380 degrees for 3 to 4 minutes, stopping once halfway through to flip. Watch the crostini during the last minute to insure they don't burn. Remove the slices from the air fryer, and cook the other half of the baguette slices in the same way. (Overfilling the air fryer basket makes for less than optimum results.)
- To toast the crostini on the grill, heat outdoor grill to 400 degrees. Lightly oil the baguette slices and grill on each side for a few minutes, until brown and toasted. Remove from grill.
- To toast it in the oven, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Put the baguette slices in a single layer on two baking sheets. Lightly rub oil on the slices. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, stopping to flip the slices halfway through.
- To top the crostini, slather hummus on each crostini with a knife.
- Sprinkle marinated cashews on top of each crostini.
- Put a sliver of grilled artichoke heart onto each crostini.
- Serve on a platter.