Artichoke and Cheese Crostini

Crostini means “little toasts.” Small slices of baguette bread are browned in a little olive oil, grilled or toasted, and topped with artichokes and cheese. This is a delicious make-ahead addition for a buffet.

4 garlic cloves, peeled
2 shallots, peeled and cut in half
1/2 pound Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated, divided
1 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
 6-ounce containers of mascarpone cheese or one 8-ounce block of low-fat cream cheese, at room temperature
Juice of 2 limes
1/2 teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes or red-pepper paste
 artichokes, hearts only (or two 12-ounce boxes of frozen artichoke hearts, thawed and drained)
Olive oil spray
4 day-old baguettes, cut into ½-inch-thick slices and browned in olive oil

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Process the garlic and shallots in a food processor until finely chopped. Add ½ cup of the Parmigiano-Reggiano, mayonnaise, mascarpone or cream cheese, lime juice, and red-pepper flakes or paste. Process until almost smooth. Add the artichoke hearts and pulse until coarsely chopped.

2. Lightly grease a 6-cup gratin dish with olive oil. Spoon the mixture in the dish. Sprinkle the top evenly with the remaining Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

3. Bake for 20 minutes, or until bubbly and hot. Serve hot with the toasted baguette slices and let everyone top their own.