Three-Cheese Crostini with Italian Sausage

I’ve been struggling with what to call these delectable crostini (Crostini with Sausage and Ricotta?;  Sausage and Ricotta Crostini;  Really Amazing Crostini with Sausage and Ricotta That Can Also Be An Open-Faced Sandwich?).  In the end I decided to just call them dang good.  And boy howdy are they ever.  The idea for these has been sitting in my “try this!” recipe file for say, about 20 years, and the reason I never really made it before was that I usually serve crostini as an appetizer before a meal, and they sounded a little heavy with the meat and all.

Then, as I was recently putting together a meal of just appetizers, this one finally just jumped out and wrestled me to the ground.  “Make me NOW!”  So I did.  And we’re hooked.

And I must say, these DO NOT need to be limited to appetizer crostini.  No siree.  Just top large slices of your grilled Italian bread with the sausage mixture, top with the mozzarella, bake or broil and serve as an open-faced sandwich.  With a nice green salad, you’ve got a mighty tasty meal.  Super easy too.

In a mad rush with Christmas shopping, baking, wrapping, partying and/or generally overwhelmed by holiday madness?  Here’s Three-Cheese Italian Sausage Crostini to your dinner rescue, or party appetizer rescue, or just make some cuz they’re ridiculously good.

Three-Cheese Crostini with Italian Sausage

Click here for a printable recipe

½ cup whole milk ricotta
1 cup of chopped fresh spinach (optional)
¼ cup parmigiana cheese
½ lb bulk Italian sausage (mild or spicy)
1 medium loaf of Italian bread (not a thin baguette)
1 cup marinara sauce
1 cup shredded mozzarella
1/4 tsp  crushed red pepper flakes (if you're not using spicy Italian sausage)

Preheat oven to 350°

In a bowl, mix together the ricotta and parmesan cheese.

In a medium skillet, add the Italian sausage and crushed red pepper if using.  Cook the sausage until nicely browned, breaking it up into small pieces as it cooks.

In the meantime, cut the Italian bread into 1/3 –inch slices and place on a cookie sheet.  Bake for about 3 minutes or until the bread becomes slightly brown, and just beginning to crisp (this took longer than 3 minutes for me)

Pour the marinara sauce into the frying pan with the sausage.  Mix and then add the ricotta and parmesan mixture.  Continue to mix together.

Spread the sausage mixture onto the bread slices and sprinkle with shredded mozzarella.  Turn off the oven.  Place the crostini back into the hot oven until mozzarella has melted.  Serve hot.  (I placed these under the broiler for a minute to get the mozzarella a little browned and bubbly.)