Both of these nifty little appetizers are worth their weight in summer gold for the flavor of each far outweighs the difficulty in preparation. Actually, even using the word difficulty is a misnomer. Ease would be the word of choice for each of these two spreads/dips/pestos/whatever-you-feel-like-calling-them.
The inspiration for this one came from two places. First, my favorite restaurant in town, Mani Osteria, served a version as their seasonal bruschetta. Though they have hands down the best thin crust pizzas around, it’s their appetizer menu that excites me the most. There’s always something new and interesting, but then there’s what can already be called classics, the pickled tomatoes and the pork belly. I could go on and on. The basic recipe itself came from my longest lasting cookbook obsession thus far, Dinner: A Love Story, in which it’s called Todd’s Minty Pea Dip. I simply added basil, garlic and toasted pine nuts to give it more of an Italian pesto-y flair.
Serves several as an appetizer.
- 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
- 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
- 1 small garlic clove, chopped
- 1/3 cup mint leaves, loosely packed
- 1/3 cup basil leaves, loosely packed
- juice of a lemon
- 2 tbsp. Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
Place all ingredients in a food processor and give her a whiz! If it seems thickish, add more lemon, olive oil or even water to give it a creamier consistency. Garnish with extra pine nuts if you wish. Serve with pita chips, baguette or crostini (follows).
- 1 baguette, thinly sliced on an angle
- olive oil
- coarse salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 400°. Place baguette slices on a cookie sheet. Drizzle or brush with olive oil until they have a light coating. Sprinkle with salt and pepper before toasting in the oven for about 5 minutes. Serve alongside pea pesto.
Alternatively, you can spread the pesto on the toasts yourself and serve them on a big platter. In this case, I would shave some Parmesan to garnish each along with a pine nut or two.
The following Avocado Pesto comes from my new favorite food blog, Dinner Was Delicious. Click on over and read their tag line for a guaranteed laugh out loud. Seriously. Even their recipe writing is hilarious (I think I’ve read through every post so far just for nighttime entertainment).
They suggest this as an alternative to hummus, which they deem (and I tend to agree) boring. The idea is so akin to guacamole that I was skeptical at first. I love guacamole but didn’t want to change a couple of ingredients and claim to have a whole new recipe. HOWEVER, I was proved wrong when I mashed up a bowl for a girls’ dinner the other night. The lemon and basil actually give it a totally different flavor than the lime and onions of guacamole. The addition of olive oil makes it creamier. Serve it up at your next get-together, you’ll see. Plus, it takes like two seconds to make.
Also, try their Peach and Tomato Salad if you’re grilling meat this summer. There’s still time.