Crostini with Ricotta, Honey and Lemon Zest

By • May 25, 2010 31 Comments

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Author Notes: I should probably be embarrassed by the following admission, but I'm not: anyone who has been to my apartment for drinks or dinner multiple times in the last few years has most likely had the same hors d'oeuvre more than once. The reason I'm not embarrassed? This particular hors d'oeuvre is, quite simply, good enough to eat every night. I'll admit that the concept was not my own, but hijacked from a favorite local spot in Brooklyn -- an unassuming neighborhood place called Lunetta, where the food is simple but carefully prepared, and the ingredients are always top-notch. The signature dish is a grilled slab of country bread that's rubbed with garlic, slathered with ricotta, drizzled with honey and finished off with a fine dusting of lemon zest. It's addictive. Even my fiancé, a self-professed hater of what he calls "uncooked cheese," has been known to nibble on occasion when I order one of these for my starter.

A couple of things are key to the success of this simple recipe. First, the bread must be somewhat charred -- whether you achieve this by grilling or broiling is your choice and matters little. Second, make sure to use the best quality ricotta you can find. Here in Brooklyn, we have easy access to an incredible locally made version from Salvatore Bklyn. Wherever you are, seek out the best, creamiest (and likely the most expensive) ricotta you can get your hands on. You won't regret it.
Merrill Stubbs

Serves 8 to 10 as a pre-dinner treat

  • 1 medium loaf crusty Italian bread, cut into 3/4-inch slices on the diagonal (halve the slices if they're big)
  • Good olive oil
  • 1 fat clove garlic, peeled and cut in half
  • 2 cups high quality, smooth whole milk ricotta
  • Maldon sea salt or kosher salt
  • Honey
  • 2 lemons
  1. Once your guests have been adequately plied with drinks and roasted almonds, or whatever else will buy you time, steal a few minutes for yourself in the kitchen or out by the grill, which should already be going strong. If you don't have a grill, set a grill pan over medium-high heat or turn on your broiler. Brush both sides of each slice of bread lightly with olive oil. Put the bread to the grill or griddle, and cook until slightly charred on each side, about 2 minutes per side; alternatively, broil the bread slices about 3 inches from the heating element, flipping them after about a minute and watching them like a hawk. When the bread is charred to your liking, remove it and rub the toasted sides lightly on one side with the cut side of the garlic clove.
  2. To the side you've rubbed with garlic, add a generous smear of ricotta (best to leave it kind of messy and rustic-looking), then drizzle with more olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Drizzle a bit of honey over each bruschetta and use a fine microplane grater to grate a good amount of lemon zest over the top. Serve immediately. Be prepared to make another batch.

More Great Recipes: Hors d'oeuvres|Snacks|Cheese & Dairy|Appetizers|Condiments

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Comments (31) Questions (3)


about 1 year ago Pam

My daughter made these for my husband & I when we were visiting her. They were so heavenly delicious. I cannot wait to serve this at my next dinner party.


over 1 year ago Sabine Gagnon

These were so ridiculously good and super simple to prepare. These will be going in to regular Summer BBQ rotation. Thank you for the recipe! Heavenly!


over 1 year ago Nicole

I started making this when I host guests either to serve with cocktails before dinner or to accompany soup. Everyone is always skeptical when they see the lemon and honey, but then they can't stop eating them! Don't skip the garlic rub.


over 1 year ago Rivertree kitchen

Sabine, you can certainly prepare the bread ahead of time, but I think the ricotta would soften the bread fairly quickly.


over 1 year ago Sabine Gagnon

Thank you for your input. I was thinking maybe I could even mix the topping and have it on the side so guests can kind of assemble themselves. Or, I might just need to save this recipe for a dinner party where I have the luxury of more time..


over 1 year ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

Like the idea of letting people assemble it themselves! I agree that if these sit for more than 10 or 15 minutes, they'll start to get soggy.


over 1 year ago Sabine Gagnon

Do you think this would be a good recipe to make ahead and set on the table until guests arrive? I am hosting a baby shower for 25 ladies and this sounds divine but I don't want to be out by the grill to prepare this. I'd like it ready for when they arrive. I'm worried it may be a soggy mess? Opinions?


over 2 years ago htan

ridiculously yummy. will be my new go to appetizer!


almost 3 years ago Holly Zajac

So delish.


almost 3 years ago Holly Zajac

Sometimes my husband and I make appetizers for dinner. We both love this one. So simple to make and very tasty.


almost 3 years ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

So glad you like it!


about 3 years ago NC waterfaucet

This is delicious as promised even when made with part skim ricotta ( heresy I know but all I had at the time). Can't wait to try it with the good stuff


about 3 years ago ltosoc

Can you give me an idea of what is the best ricotta out there that I can buy?


about 2 years ago Jamie Atkinson

Make your own! It's so easy. If you can boil pasta, you can make fresh ricotta at home. Totally worth it.

Fresh ricotta:
Combine 1/2 gallon of milk + juice of 1 lemon + 1 tbsp sea salt in a large stockpot. Heat gently until almost boiling (190-195 degrees, if you have a candy thermometer lying around). When the curds start to separate, remove from heat and let sit for 10 minutes. Strain through cheesecloth. Too easy! Way tastier than anything at the store.


about 3 years ago Rivertree kitchen

I brought the makings for these (plus coarsely ground black pepper) to a party last winter. They were a huge hit. A few crystals of coarse sea salt balance the honey nicely.


about 3 years ago Katie

I made this last night but substituted mascarpone for the ricotta, as it was all that I had in my fridge. While this adjustment, combined with the honey, made the appetizer rather sweet, it was still fabulous. I look forward to trying it again when I have time to make or purchase good-quality ricotta. Thanks for another wonderful recipe!


over 3 years ago em-i-lis

Emily is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Fabulously simple and delicious! I made one round with just ricotta, honey and freshly ground pepper. Also delish! Mmmm...


over 3 years ago HeatherG

These were delicious! I made this for a light lunch in the afternoon for my family and everyone loved husband added more honey to his as he likes things really sweet. My kids ate them as well as said they were really good. I'll be trying more from Merrill.


over 3 years ago TheBostonian

This reminds me of something I had at college at their "French Table" - crusty, toasted bread topped with goat cheese, honey and what I think was smoked paprika. I could not stop eating them. I imagine this dish would have the same effect on me.


over 3 years ago lfm

If you live in NYC try this with Salvatore smoked ricotta - even better


over 4 years ago Margaret McCormick

Tried this recipe last night and LOVED it. If you crisp the bread under the broiler, keep a very close watch. Even burnt, this was absolutely delicious!


over 4 years ago Utopiandeviant

Anyone have an idea what kind of wine would go well with this?


over 3 years ago Truly Scrumptious

a rich chardonnay. their are so many to choose from.
here are a few
sonoma valley kistler or sonoma cutrer,
napa valley chateau montalena or flora springs


over 4 years ago Corkage

I made this last night for my in-laws. I think they love me even more now. It's so yummy! This is definitely a go-to recipe now!


over 4 years ago jfinnert

Light, crunchy, zesty, and sweet without the guilt. Easy and quick to prepare, too.