White anchovy crostini

Anchovies, orange and dates are most commonly found together in salads, often with baby spinach, fennel or endive. Here, I’ve cut out the middlemen and served them as crostini toppings for a flavoursome canape.

The intense umami of oily anchovy fillets is well-balanced by sweet dates, and orange cuts through the richness with a light acidity without overpowering the other flavours. The crunchy toast provides a textural contrast and soaks up and holds the delicious juices.

These are incredibly simple to make and ideal for throwing together for unexpected guests. Of course you can use oranges if blood oranges aren’t easily found, but the intense ruby colour they provide is glorious if you can get a hold of some. If you want to create a vegetarian version, a robust blue cheese such as stilton would hold its own in place of the anchovies.

Makes 12-16


1 loaf ciabatta (or other wide/flat bread)

3 blood oranges

2 small purple shallots, thinly sliced

120g marinated white anchovy fillets

8-10 medjool dates, pitted

4 tbsp red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar

4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper

fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

  1. Combine the shallots, vinegar and oil in a bowl.
  2. Zest the oranges then finely slice the zest, being careful to avoid all the pith.
  3. Separate and remove the individual orange segments using a sharp knife.
  4. Add the zest and segments to the bowl with the shallots, season to taste, stir well and set aside to marinate.
  5. Thinly slice the sourdough loaf and toast or grill on both sides until lightly golden.
  6. Cut a slit in the dates and use a teaspoon to scoop out the sticky inside flesh. Spread onto the toasted sourdough slices.
  7. Layer each slice with a few segments of orange, then top with one or two anchovy fillets.
  8. Spoon over some of the shallots and juices from the orange marinade.
  9. Finish with some parsley and freshly ground black pepper.

Recipe by Olivia Mackay, www.scoffandquaff.wordpress.com