Tag Archives: pesto

Celebrating Hot and Spicy Food Day

Written by Cynthia - 

Grilled Shrimp Skewers with Roasted Peppers

Today is Hot & Spicy Food Day, for me… one of the best days of the year! Since I come from Mediterranean descent, we don’t eat anything without a little bit of olive oil and a little bit of spice in it. So naturally, in celebration, I made these Grilled Shrimp Skewers with Roasted Peppers. I’m no expert chef, so what I love about this recipe is that it’s so quick and easy to make. I invited a girlfriend over to help me enjoy the fruits of my labor and boy was she fooled! She was pleasantly surprised at how I came up with such a “tasty and elegant-looking dish in such a short amount of time,” were her words to me exactly.

I started off with preparing the marinade, using BUITONI® Pesto with Basil. I love the taste of pesto – it adds such a rich flavor to pastas, salad dressings and marinades. While the recipe calls for some garlic, shallots and olive oil mixed into the pesto, I also added a small teaspoon of red pepper flakes to give it an extra spicy kick. Of course, you can play around with the measurements depending on how spicy or mild you prefer. I personally prefer extra spicy. Chili peppers can also be part of a healthy diet and are a source of Vitamin C to help maintain a healthy immune system.

I opted to use a broiler instead of a griller this time. Right after preparing the marinade, I started working on cutting and then broiling the bell peppers for about 10-15 minutes and then removing the charred skin after they were cooled. My advice would be to definitely prepare the marinade and shrimp first and stick it right in the refrigerator to give it ample time to marinate, while cooking the peppers. In the meantime, I also prepared a side salad using again BUITONI Pesto with Basil. Can’t you tell I just love this pesto! Check out the entire meal plan for these recipes including a starter and dessert here.

I used wooden skewers to alternately thread the shrimp and peppers. Here’s an important tip: Soak the wooden skewers in warm water for 30 minutes to help prevent them from igniting either on the grill or broiler. The hardest part about this recipe? Waiting for the shrimp to be done while smelling the rich aroma of garlic, pesto and peppers take over your kitchen. Well, I must say it was well worth the wait!

Grilled Shrimp Skewers and Roasted Peppers Basted with Basil Pesto

Ingredients for 2 servings:

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons BUITONI Refrigerated All Natural Pesto with Basil, divided
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh garlic
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh shallots
  • 8 (about 8 ounces total) large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 3 bell peppers (yellow, red and green)
  • Skewers (NOTE: If using wooden skewers soak in water for 30 minutes before threading.)
  • 1 loaf ciabatta bread (about 6 inches)
  • Fresh basil sprigs for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Sea salt to taste

Directions:

PREHEAT grill or broiler.

MIX oil, 2 tablespoons pesto, garlic and shallots in medium bowl. Add shrimp; toss to coat. Marinate in refrigerator.

CUT bell peppers in quarters; grill or broil until skins blister. Place peppers in bowl; cover tightly with foil. Cool until peppers can be handled; remove charred skins.

CUT cooled bell peppers into 1 1/2-inch squares.

THREAD bell peppers and marinated shrimp alternately on skewers; discard any remaining marinade.

TRIM ends off of bread and discard; cut bread in four 1-inch-thick slices. Grill or broil until golden and crispy. Spread remaining 1 tablespoon pesto evenly on bread slices.

GRILL or broil shrimp skewers until shrimp are cooked and turn pink.

PLACE 2 slices of grilled bread on each plate. Remove shrimp and peppers from skewers and arrange on top of bread. Garnish with fresh basil sprigs or with an herb bouquet. Drizzle with lemon juice; season with sea salt.

Related Recipes:

Spicy Corn Soup & Citrus Tuna Skewers Crostini Aperitivo Recipe
Spicy Corn Soup & Citrus
Tuna Skewers
Crostini Aperitivo

How to Roast a Rack of Lamb: Roasted Rack of Lamb with Mint-Basil Pesto

Written by Chris -

Roasted Rack of Lamb with Mint-Basil Pesto Recipe

Easter is right around the corner, so I thought I’d share my favorite spring lamb recipe! If you are having a few people over, this recipe is for you!

When it comes to recipes, I don’t “do” complicated. I just don’t. Perhaps when my kids are grown, I will change my tune. But, for now, I like keeping it simple, delicious and nutritious.

Take this recipe, for example. I am using a rack of lamb – not a crown roast or leg of lamb. All taste delicious, but a rack of lamb is hands down the easiest to prepare.

In the spirit of keeping it simple, I took a couple shortcuts with this recipe. I purchased the rack of lamb already frenched (more on that term later). I also used premade Buitoni pesto. Buitoni All Natural Pesto is really good, friends! There’s no need to make pesto from scratch – let Buitoni do the work for you. I did add a little fresh mint and lemon juice to the pesto – mint pairs so well with lamb and lemon adds a nice zing!

Back to the term “frenched”… this just means that the rib bones are exposed (see picture below). Most racks are packaged frenched. If they aren’t, you can ask your butcher to french them for you.

Roasted Rack of Lamb with Mint-Basil Pesto Recipe

I usually buy Australian or New Zealand lamb from Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s or Costco – it’s a bit leaner and less expensive. One rack typically has 7 to 8 ribs, and this will feed 2 to 3 people. I’ve finally graduated to two racks for my family of five. (I was really taken back by how much my boys like lamb – very nice surprise!)

The cooking time depends on how big your rack of lamb is (most are packaged at 1 ½ pounds), and how rare you want it cooked. Rack of lamb should be cooked rare, or at most medium rare. The instructions I’ve provided are for two 1 1/2 pound racks (roast time is the same for one rack). Be sure to use a meat thermometer to check for doneness. I prefer it to register between 125-130° F which is on the rare side. Once it’s pulled out of the oven, as it rests, the temperature will continue to climb a few degrees.

If you have a large oven-proof skillet, it will work great with this recipe! If you don’t own one or are unsure if it’s oven-proof, simply sear the racks in the skillet you have, and then transfer them to a rimmed baking sheet that’s been lined with foil. The foil isn’t required, but it sure makes for easy clean up!

Roasted Rack of Lamb with Mint-Basil Pesto

Ingredients for 6 servings (2-3 chops per serving):

  • 2 (1 ½ pounds each) frenched racks of lamb (about 8 ribs each)
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 container (9 ounces) BUITONI Refrigerated All Natural Refrigerated Pesto with Basil, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Directions:

Roasted Rack of Lamb with Mint-Basil Pesto Recipe

TRIM excess fat from the lamb.

Roasted Rack of Lamb with Mint-Basil Pesto Recipe

ALLOW lamb to come to room temperature for about 30 minutes before roasting. When it’s at room temperature, it will cook evenly. Season the lamb on all sides with salt and pepper.

PREHEAT oven to 400° F.

HEAT the oil in a large oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat. Place lamb racks, fat-side-down, in skillet; sear until browned (this should only take a few minutes – you just want them browned). Turn racks over and sear other side. At this point, I like to drain the oil from the skillet so it doesn’t spatter in the oven. Turn racks meat-side up; place skillet in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until thermometer placed in thickest portion registers 125-130° F (medium-rare). It’s best to check it at 15 minutes, especially if your oven runs hot.

Roasted Rack of Lamb with Mint-Basil Pesto Recipe

TRANSFER lamb racks to a work surface and cover loosely with foil; let them rest for 10 minutes. Don’t skip this step – this is what makes the lamb so tender and juicy! Now is a good time to prepare the pesto sauce since it takes only a few minutes to put together.

COMBINE pesto, mint and water in medium bowl; stir well to combine. Stir in 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Taste and add 1 more tablespoon if you prefer more tang. You might question why I added water to the mixture. I wanted it to be a little thinner in consistency – it’s just a matter of preference. I love the tang the lemon juice provides, but didn’t want to add too much. I could have also added more oil, but I didn’t want to add the calories. So water it was!

Roasted Rack of Lamb with Mint-Basil Pesto Recipe

Cut the lamb between the bones into single chops. The chops above are too done for my taste, but they are cooked to perfection for my kids. They like their lamb medium, and this was their rack. The lamb in the image below was cooked rare to medium-rare. Just the way I like it!

Roasted Rack of Lamb with Mint-Basil Pesto Recipe

Arrange chops on plates; drizzle with pesto. That’s it! This is truly one of the easiest recipes to prepare. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

Related recipes:

Marinated Leg of Lamb Recipe Baked Cola-Brined Fresh Ham Recipe
Marinated Leg of Lamb Baked Cola-Brined Fresh Ham

Bachelor in the Kitchen: Homemade Quick and Easy Pumpkin Pizza

Written by Nick -

Quick Pumpkin Pizza Recipe

Pizza is REALLY good. I love all kinds of pizza. I have the “deserted island one food and one album conversation” all the time, and I’m always torn between pizza or burgers (the album is almost always Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers “Full Moon Fever,” just in case you were curious).

Any Friday night, I’m happy to throw a DIGIORNO® in the oven, but sometimes you have to make it a bit more gourmet. Usually that means I add some special cheese to a DiGiorno, or get a TOMBSTONE® Double Top Pizza, maybe a side of ranch for dipping the crust… the simple things. This time I thought it was time to try “homemade” and opted for this Quick Pumpkin Pizza.

I say homemade, but I used pre-made dough from the grocery store. You get all the satisfaction of rolling it out and making a nice thin crust in way less time. Plus, I’m not sure I’m ready for making dough from scratch and I didn’t want to risk any mishaps.

This pizza comes together so easily. The pumpkin, pesto, pine nuts and cheese really make a fantastic flavor combination. The pumpkin sauce is not something you expect in a pizza, but it really tasted great. It’s the perfect fall variety for all pizza lovers. I suggest serving it with a Strawberry and Arugula salad to complete the meal or try it as pizza bites and serve as an appetizer.

I think next time I might even mix my own dough. If you have any simple pizza dough recipes, let me know in the comments box below. Thanks!

Quick Pumpkin Pizza

Ingredients:

Directions:

PREHEAT oven to 450° F. Place pizza crusts on baking sheet.

COMBINE pumpkin, Gouda cheese and garlic in a small bowl; mix well. Spread mixture evenly on both pizza crusts, leaving a ½-inch border around edge.

SPRINKLE Parmesan cheese evenly over each pizza, leaving a border of pumpkin mixture showing.

DOT each pizza with one-half teaspoonfuls of pesto, dividing evenly on each pizza. Sprinkle each with pine nuts. Place other topping choices, if desired.

BAKE for 8 to 10 minutes or until cheese begins to bubble and crust starts to lightly brown.

Links:

Related Pumpkin Italian Cuisine:

Cheese Ravioli with Pumpkin Sage Sauce Recipe Pumpkin Spice Panna Cotta Recipe
Cheese Ravioli with
Pumpkin Sage Sauce
Pumpkin Spice
Panna Cotta

Pesto Pairs Perfectly with Italian White Wine

Written by Liz -

Tortellini with Pesto and Sun-Dried Tomatoes recipe

September 30 is the last day of California Wine Month so I thought I’d pair one of my favorite Italian sauces (as in the Tortellini with Pesto and Sun-dried Tomatoes above) with some California white wines made from Italian varietals. And I added a twist to the pesto that I learned from Luce, one of Bon Appetit’s top 10 best new restaurants in America.

The Food:

Luce Italian restaurant in Portland

Luce is a very small market and restaurant dedicated to simple Italian cooking in Portland Oregon. Every dish on the menu was so simply made that at first glance, it seems too easy, too sophomoric. But after a bite or two, the flavors this kind of cooking imparts transports you to the traditions of Italy. Bon Appetit called it “bare bones…Italian home cooking at its core.”

Luce Italian cooking in Portland

The pesto at Luce was made with basil, avocado, almonds, walnuts and garlic. This is pesto in Southern Italy. And it was incredible! The avocado replaces the olive oil, making the dish lighter, full of flavor and oh-so-good for your skin. To make this easy on me to make at home, I used Buitoni pesto as a base, placing about half the container of pesto in a bowl, then mixing in one whole ripe avocado and serving it over al dente pasta. A perfect late summer meal.

The Wine:

I wanted to pair this with an Italian varietal made in California, and I found 2 wines that worked perfectly. Arneis from Palmina Wines has a bright lemony quality, and enough acid to zip along your tongue with the pesto, cutting the oils and balancing the meal perfectly.

Luce Italian restaurant in Portland

Another wine, Bianchetto from Moretti Wines is a blend of 3 Italian varietals from different regions: Arneis, Malvasia Bianca and Tocai Friulano. You won’t see this blend in Italy, but it’s lovely flowery nose and fruit and acid balance also really enhanced the dish.

Links:

More pesto recipes:

Baked Pesto Chicken recipe
Baked Pesto Chicken Breasts recipe
Insalata Caprese with Pesto Vinaigrette recipe
Insalata Caprese with Pesto Vinaigrette

My Ooey-Gooey Take on the Classic Comfort Food: Pesto Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Written by Chris -

Pesto Grilled Cheese recipe

The rich, sweet, nutty flavor of Gruyère cheese complements basil pesto and sourdough bread so well; it really takes this adult grilled cheese sandwich to a whole new level!

Now that my family is back to somewhat of a chaotic weeknight schedule, squeezing in a few quick & delicious meals is a must. The beauty of grilled cheese is that you can cater to your family’s preferences. You just need to have a few different varieties of cheese and bread on hand. My kids still prefer the classic grilled cheese made with American cheese and white bread. However, they’ve been loving sharp cheddar and fresh spinach on wheat lately!

So if you are looking for a way to simplify dinner, give this Pesto Grilled Cheese a try. Then customize to your liking. Caramelized onions, thinly sliced Bartlett pears, peppery arugula or sliced tomatoes make great additions to this grilled cheese.

Pesto Grilled Cheese

Ingredients for 2 sandwiches:

  • 2 to 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons BUITONI Refrigerated All Natural Pesto with Basil
  • 4 slices sourdough cracked wheat bread
  • 1 cup (about 4 ounces) shredded cheese (I like a combination of Gruyère, sharp cheddar and mozzarella)

Directions:

HEAT a heavy-duty, large skillet or grill pan over medium heat. Spread butter over one side of each bread slice. On two of the slices, spread the unbuttered side with pesto, just enough to cover the surface.

Pesto grilled cheese recipe

PLACE slices of bread with pesto, butter-side-down, in the skillet. Sprinkle cheese evenly over bread in the skillet, as shown above.

PLACE remaining slices of bread over the cheese, butter-side-up. Cover skillet loosely and cook for about 3 to 4 minutes, or until golden on bottom. Uncover; carefully flip the sandwich over. Cook uncovered for 3 to 4 minutes or until cheese is melted and bread is golden brown. Slice in half and enjoy immediately (with a side of fresh veggies and fruit). If you like wine, I recommend a lightly sweet or dry Riesling.

pesto grilled cheese recipe

Be sure to check out Meals.com for additional quick & delicious recipes!

Links:

More grilled cheese recipes:

Grilled Ham and Tomato Sandwiches recipe
Grilled Ham and Tomato Sandwiches
Smoked Turkey and Tomato Wraps recipe
Smoked Turkey and Tomato Wraps

Start 2012 Right: Top Ten Appetizers & Snacks

Written by Nick

Below are some of our favorite apps and snacks from 2011. Whether you’re having a super bowl bash or cocktail party, these bite size recipes will be perfect for all that 2012 has to offer.

 Party Shrimp Skewers

1. Party Shrimp Skewers

The basil pesto salsa above adds a great flavor dimension to these grilled Party Shrimp Skewers. Perfect for outdoor parties or summertime entertaining on the patio.

Layered Monterey Pumpkin Dip

2. Layered Monterey Pumpkin Dip

Enjoy this Layered Monterey Pumpkin Dip and experience unexpected flavors in this version of a traditional layered dip. Good to the last spoonful!

Crostini Aperitivo

3. Crostini Aperitivo

Buon appetito! Add a touch of elegance to any gathering with this tasty Crostini Aperitivo appetizer above. Topped with prosciutto and a delicious goat cheese and pesto spread, you’ve never experienced Tuscany like this before.

Baked Ravioli Bites

4. Baked Ravioli Bites

Baked Ravioli Bites are decorated with artful toppings and are irresistible additions to a night of entertaining.

Party-Perfect Mini Quiches

5. Party-Perfect Mini Quiches

These bite-size, crustless colorful mini quiches above are filled with cheddar cheese, broccoli and red peppers. A delicious and colorful addition to any meal and also perfect as a party appetizer.

Coffee-Glazed Nuts

6. Coffee-Glazed Nuts

Walnuts, pecans and almonds combine in this tasty twist on the classic nut mix. With a sweet and savory coffee glaze, these Coffee-Glazed Nuts are sure to create a buzz!

Pesto Party Dip

7. Pesto Party Dip

This Pesto Party Dip is perfect on veggies, crackers and bread sticks. It is a delicious crowd-pleaser with creamy texture and robust pesto taste.

Peanut Butter "Cheese Ball"

8. Peanut Butter “Cheese Ball”

It’s a fact! Peanut butter and cheese top the list of kids’ favorite foods. Try them together in this unique recipe for Peanut Butter “Cheese Ball.”

With a shell of swirled morsels, this creamy, peanut-buttery snack is perfect for dipping graham cracker sticks and apple slices — a tasty addition to your child’s party menu.

Treat the little ones (and you too!) to this ever-so-delicious twist on the traditional cheese ball.

Smokin’ Almond Blue Cheese Dip

9. Smokin’ Almond Blue Cheese Dip

Smoked almonds paired with creamy Carnation are the secrets to this extra-special blue cheese dip. Use in place of the typical Ranch dip to serve with chicken thighs or wings, fresh veggies, or hearty crackers. It’s the perfect addition to any party buffet table.

TOLL HOUSE Party Mix

10. TOLL HOUSE® Party Mix

Don’t wait for the next football game to enjoy one of your favorite party appetizers. TOLL HOUSE® Party Mix is great for any occasion.

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