For someone who loves talking, I find myself pretty socially awkward unless there’s food involved. I get so concerned that I’ll run out of things to talk about at a party with people I only kind of know that I come up with topics in my head before I get there. Of course once I get there I’m so busy trying to remember what I wanted to say that I can’t think of a darn thing to say, and I stand there looking like a fool staring straight through the person I’m trying to have a conversation with.
And then I’m like, “Oh look! Cheese! I love cheese!” Their reaction to this sudden statement of mine determines how far our friendship will go. For example, if they immediately start describing the breadcrumbed portion of the mac n cheese they ate last week in detail, I know I could sit in a car with them for a few hours and it wouldn’t get awkward. If they react with a simple, “yeah me too.” We’re done buddy. I know all that I need to know about you.
One of my greatest friendships started this way, two strangers at a party in 6th grade (which you know haaad to be awkward since there was a pool and cool kids involved, of which I was not), we started talking about the proper way to pronounce, “fructis” as in Garnier Fructis. I don’t know how this conversation started or how it ended, all I remember was spending the better part of a half an hour saying the word over and over. Other friends would come over to us, and then realize that we were just weird before walking away to go show their cool friends their new ice pink RAZR phone.
And so I leave you with this recipe. A recipe for something you can bring to a party and not have the fear of running out of conversation. With an appetizer this delicious, you will have to put in no effort to speak, other people will talk for you. You’ll just have to answer a few questions every once in a while.
“Is this arugula organic?”
“Would I have it any other way?!”
“You’re just a doll!”
“Now this olive oil…”
“Yes, imported from Sicily.”
“How fancy you are!”
“The flavor is just so bright!”
“That would be the meyer lemons. Sweeter than a regular lemon, but they still wake up those pretty little taste buds of yours.”
“Let’s be friends.”
So it’s not quite a recipe, more like a guideline of flavors.
This time, I used crostini (french bread cut into 1/2″ slices, drizzled with olive oil and toasted in a 400 degree oven until both sides were light brown and crispy), topped it with super high quality ricotta (Polly-O just won’t do. Trust.), a little bit of really clean, really dry arugula, and zested a meyer lemon over the tops. This can be done a little bit in advance (although I wouldn’t do it more than an hour ahead because the bread might get soggy), but just before serving you can squeeze a little bit of the meyer lemon juice over the top and drizzle it with just a tiny bit of really good olive oil. I’ve also made these on top of toasted pita breads, which is equally delicious.