Jeff Smith 4 p.m., Dec. 20
Mushroom Pesto Pitas
Submitted by Mango
Once again, I found myself craving pizza, but I wanted something a little different. Since I love to experiment with recipes and I was playing around with basil this week, this is what I came up with. These are less like pizzas and might better be described as pita appetizers. They’re crunchy and delicious. You can use store bought pesto for this recipe, but where’s the fun in that?
- Pita Bread (Trader Joe’s brand regular or whole wheat pita bread)
- 3 tbls Extra Virgin Olive oil, plus 1 Teaspoon (divided use)
- ¾ cup chopped walnuts
- ½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- 2 medium-sized cloves of chopped garlic
- 2 tbls fresh lemon juice
- 1 cup packed fresh basil
- 1 cup coarsely chopped fresh white mushrooms
First you will make a batch of fresh pesto. In a food processor, process the ¾ cups of chopped walnuts, with the ½ cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese, the 2 cloves of chopped garlic, the 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Process just long enough to grind up the nuts with the other ingredients so that you can still slightly see the texture of the nuts, but not so long as to create a gummy paste. This will only take a few seconds. Pulse the processor on and off as needed and scrape the mixture down into the bowl of the processor. Add the basil and another tablespoon of olive oil until all of the basil is minced into the mixture. Take the pesto out of the food processor and place it in a small bowl and set aside. If you are preparing the pesto mixture more than a half hour ahead of time, cover and refrigerate at this time. Before you use the pesto in the recipe, you will need to set the covered bowl on the counter and allow it to come back to room temperature. When you are ready to prepare your pitas, preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Take 3 pita breads and place them on a cookie sheet. Use the remaining teaspoon of olive oil and spread a light coating of oil across the surface of the pita breads. The easiest way to do this is to dip a paper towel in the oil and use the towel to spread the oil onto the pita breads. Divide the coarsely chopped fresh mushrooms amongst the 3 pita breads and spread the mushrooms fairly evenly across the surfaces of the pitas. Place the cookie sheet with the pitas in the oven and bake for 8 to 10 minutes, just until the mushrooms start to look roasted. Remove the cookie sheet from the oven and put teaspoon sized dollops of the pesto mixture onto the surface of the pitas. Put the cookie sheet with the pitas back into the oven and cook for 5 more minutes, making sure not to let the pitas burn and making sure that the pesto doesn’t melt to the point that it starts to run. You can serve the pitas whole, but I like to take a pizza cutter and slice them into wedges. This recipe serves 3.
Added Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2009