Friday, January 2, 2009

Pesto and Mozzarella Appetizer



This recipe is an original from my friend Mike. He's an expert in the recording studio and with a pen, but he is also a whiz in the kitchen. He is someone who regularly goes to the various food shows, he routinely cooks intricate dinners (although I haven't had one in a while; hint, hint), and he is an avid restaurant-goer and new flavor seeker. He is someone whose palate I trust. When he presented this pesto to me as a housewarming gift, along with a container of fresh mozzarella balls, I was delighted. When I opened the pesto after the party, I was deeply glad that I hadn't shared it with my guests. It was so good I wanted it all to myself!

3 cups fresh basil (basically everything from a 1.5 foot plant)
3/4 cup pine nuts
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp black pepper
2/3 cup olive oil
3 large cloves garlic (large being the width of 2 fingers; try elephant garlic)
1 cup fresh spinach
2/3 grated parmesan

Put garlic into processor. Let fly. Stop. Add basil, nuts, oil, salt and pepper, cheese.
Blend. Stop. Mix. Blend again. Taste.

Needs more green but you're out of basil? Add 1 cup spinach leaves.
Too chunky? Add oil.
Too bitter? Too much basil? Not green enough? Add spinach.
Too much garlic? Add everything else.

Blend again, mix and repeat if needed. This was also made to go with baguette slices and cherry tomatoes for a variation on bruchetta. Skewer a tomato and mozz ball, and dip or drizzle pesto over that. Place the coated cheese/tomato on a bread slice and place in mouth, removing the skewer. Chew and enjoy. Serving and presenting is easy, and anyone with allergies or issues can avoid their contaigen/peeve. Doesn't work with vegans.