My family members love hosting cocktail hour before we go out to celebratory dinners. It's an opportunity to spend time in each other's homes, enjoy some snacks, and toast to health and happiness with some good quality wine. Before our Father's Day dinner at the newly opened Renegade Canteen in Scottsdale, my sister and parents came over to our house to finish watching the US Open and share some refreshments. I served Pesto Bites, below, and carrots and pita chips with hummus. The Pesto Bites can be made quickly with store bought pesto, but I made pesto from scratch this time. After all, it was Father's Day, and my dad is a pretty special guy.
This snack is pretty rich and very tasty. Eat it slowly, paying attention to the intense flavors and wonderful texture. Most importantly, enjoy it with those you love!
Here's the basic "recipe" for the Pesto Bites:
Freshly baked French, sour dough, or Italian bread
Olive oil-based pesto (see recipe below)
Organic mozzarella and Italian cheeses, shredded
Preheat oven to broil. Slice the bread in half length-wise on a cutting board. Spread a thin layer of pesto on each piece of bread. (If you run out of pesto, sprinkle olive oil in places where pesto is spread very thinly.) Sprinkle with mozzarella and/or Italian cheeses. Broil directly on the oven rack for 3-4 minutes or until cheese is browning and bubbly. Make sure to set a timer, since the bread will burn if left in to long.
And now, for the delicious pesto from Simply Recipes:
Makes 1 cup prepared pesto
*Note: in the photos below, I doubled the recipe.
2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan Reggiano or Romano cheese (organic and raw if possible)
1/2 cup cold pressed extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup pine nuts (or walnuts if desired)
3 medium sized garlic cloves, minced
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Combine basil with pine nuts; pulse a few times in the food processor.
Here's the basil measured out:
Here's the basil processed with the pine nuts:
Add the garlic and pulse a few times more. I always love to use my garlic press to create fresh minced garlic with ease:
Slowly add the olive oil in a constant stream while the food processor is on.
Stop to scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula. Add the grated cheese and pulse until blended. Add sea salt and black pepper to taste. The final product:
Now prepare the bread:
Spread the pesto on the bread:
Sprinkle the cheese on top:
(This group likes it extra cheesy!):
Now broil for 3-4 minutes or until the cheese turns a gorgeous, bubbling brown:
Once it has cooled a minute or two, cut it into pieces and serve on a platter:
Here's our Father's Day happy hour spread:
And my new Fourth of July inspired candles, sitting on top of a table that's just waiting to be used:
Happy Father's Day to the most amazing dad I've ever met! We love you!
(That's my sis on the left and myself with our dad in Laguna in April)