Crostini with Young Pecorino, Grilled Figs, and Arugula & Mint Pesto – Recipe

Crostini Pecorino Fig Arugula Mint Pesto
Crostini with Young Pecorino, Grilled Figs, and Arugula & Mint Pesto

I just finished making the very-last-last-last-really-no-more edits to the cookbook. We got page proofs back, and there was a small window to make tweaks before it goes to press.

A deadline like that has a way of focusing the mind! I want to make absolutely sure that every recipe in the book is as good as I can possibly make it. So I went through the whole lot and picked out a handful to test just one more time. One of them was a potato and green bean salad with arugula pesto. It occurred to me that I might like it even better with a bit of fresh mint in the pesto, and sure enough I think it makes a huge difference.

After I made it, I had quite a bit of the pesto leftover, so I tweaked it slightly and used it to make these crostini with figs and young pecorino, which are a pretty mind bending little appetizer if I do say so myself!

If you are only familiar with pecorino romano, which is a hard grating cheese, you should definitely seek out young pecorinos. Pecorino is the name for the entire family of Italian sheep's milk cheeses, and there are many to explore. You'll find several at Whole Foods or any good cheesemonger.

I like to do small "grilling" tasks like these figs with a blowtorch. If you don't have one (or don't feel safe/comfortable using it), you could also run them under a broiler, or of course use a charcoal grill for even better flavor.

I didn't use any toasted pine nuts in the pesto because they are poison in my house, but you certainly can!

Crostini with Young Pecorino, Grilled Figs, and Arugula & Mint Pesto
Yields 12 crostini 

For the pesto:

  • 2 cups lightly packed baby arugula leaves 
  • 1/4 cup lightly packed fresh mint leaves
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
  1. Combine all ingredients in a mini food processor and process until a fairly uniform but not a completely pureed paste. Add more oil if needed to reach a consistency that is neither so thick that it stands up by itself, nor as thin as a sauce. Taste and adjust seasoning. 

For the crostini:

  • 12 thin slices of baguette, cut on the bias
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 9 fresh figs
  • 12 fairly thin slices of young, soft pecorino cheese, each about the size of a baguette slice, at room temperature
  • Flaky sea salt (Maldon (aka the world’s greatest salt)) or fleur de sel
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  1. Brush the baguette slices quite generously with olive oil. Toast in a 350 degree oven until nicely browned and crisp, about 15 minutes. Remove and cool.
  2. Cut the figs into quarters and brush the cut surfaces with olive oil. Grill as discussed in the headnotes, until the cut surfaces are well browned.
  3. To serve, put a piece of pecorino on each piece of bread. Top with 3 of the fig quarters and then mash them gently with a fork so that they will lay down and hold the pesto. Spoon a generous amount of pesto on the figs and finish with a few flakes of sea salt and a couple grinds of black pepper.
Print Friendly and PDF
Posted by Michael Natkin on Monday, November 14th, 2011 in Appetizers, Recipes.

14 Responses to “Crostini with Young Pecorino, Grilled Figs, and Arugula & Mint Pesto – Recipe”

  1. Reply
    November 14, 2011 at 9:45 am #

    This really looks delicious.

  2. Reply
    November 14, 2011 at 11:32 am #

    Would seeds (toasted or raw) have the same allergic concern as nuts? Just wondering if sunflower, sesame, or pumpkin seeds might be used in place of the pine nuts for the “nutty” component in pesto. I don’t use dairy cheese anymore in my recipes, but find that ground nut or seed ingredients mixed with a bit of nutritional yeast often fill that ‘cheesy’ niche.

    • Reply
      May 9, 2013 at 10:56 am #

      I’ve actually stopped using nuts in my basil pesto altogether. I sprinkle in a 1/2 tsp nutritional yeast and it’s delcious!

  3. Reply
    Michael Natkin
    November 14, 2011 at 11:46 am #

    Hey Carolyn – indeed, I do use pumpkin seeds in pesto sometimes, since we can't use pine nuts due to allergies in the family. It works quite well.

  4. Reply
    November 14, 2011 at 12:16 pm #

    Excellent! Although I don’t have any nut concerns on my end, I am always looking for multiple alternatives for foundation recipes. Ultimately, I hope we come to the point where this is how we approach cooking- many possibilities to support many dietary needs.

  5. Reply
    November 15, 2011 at 5:08 pm #

    Arugula in pesto has been my favourite combination for a long time. People thought I was weird. Glad to see you have it here. (:

  6. Reply
    November 18, 2011 at 5:42 am #

    I love crostini! They’re just so much fun to eat. And those figs look delicious– I’ll definitely be trying this one out!

  7. Reply
    November 28, 2011 at 2:53 am #

    Pesto is Refreshing, so zesty & so delighting ! Its really friendly for some of the foods & adds charm to their taste & texture.

  8. Reply
    November 29, 2011 at 1:59 pm #

    WOW men. Let me tell you, I just found this site and I’m bookmarking it right now. The crostinis look delicious!!

  9. Reply
    December 7, 2011 at 12:01 pm #

    Hey Michael, your Crostini is a Recipe Guessing Game on Knapkins. Think your friends can win? link to Show your foodie love and vote here link to

  10. Reply
    May 4, 2012 at 7:46 am #

    This was such a great hit in my potluck. Everyone wanted to try it at home.

  11. Reply
    October 23, 2013 at 8:10 am #

    I’ll definitely be trying this one out!

  12. Reply
    February 5, 2014 at 8:30 pm #

    This was such a great hit in my potluck. Everyone wanted to try it at home.

  13. Reply
    November 30, 2014 at 7:13 am #

    looks dellicious 🙂

Leave a Reply