Spicy Beet and Bacon Crostini
1 medium-sized roasted beet
1 French baguette
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese at room temperature
Cayenne pepper to taste
1/4 cup minced bacon bits
3 scallions, sliced into thin rounds
Hint - You may want to wear an apron when you make this dish! Beets are famously red, and that red color may squirt onto you, your countertop or your clothing at any time.
1. Remove the skin from the roasted beet by rubbing it off with a paper towel or peeling it off with your fingers or a paring knife. (A vegetable peeler won't work well on roasted beets). The skin should be thin, fragile and easy to remove. Cut the beet flesh into planks about 1 inch wide and 1/8-inch thick. Set aside.
2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees with the rack in the middle position. Slice the baguette diagonally into about 15-20 oblong rounds about 1/2-inch thick each. You may not use the whole baguette, depending on how long it was to start with.
3. Lay the rounds in one layer on a rimmed baking sheet and put them in the oven for about 5 minutes, until they are lightly toasted. Flip them over to the other side and continue toasting them until they are lightly toasted on the second side, about 3 more minutes. Watch them to be sure they do not brown too much. While the slices are toasting, have the olive oil and mascarpone cheese nearby, with a pastry brush for the olive oil and a small spoon for the mascarpone.
4. When the crostini are lightly toasted, remove them from the oven and quickly brush them each with olive oil, then use the spoon to smear about a teaspoon of mascarpone cheese over each (you may not use all the cheese). Ideally, they will still be warm at this point.
5. Lay the beet planks on each crostini and use a fork to mash them into the bread a bit. Sprinkle a little cayenne pepper on each beet plank.
6. Assemble the crostini on a serving platter. Top each crostini with minced bacon bits, followed by scallion rounds, and serve.