Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Pumpkin Seed Pesto & Goat Cheese Crostini

A few weeks ago I took a cooking class at Whole Foods in Minneapolis.  It was such a different experience than the class I took at Cooks of Crocus Hill, but the recipes were just as fantastic.  The class had about 6 people and we all sat at a counter while the instructor cooked right in front of our eyes.  Each of us had the opportunity to participate, which really meant adding pre-chopped ingredients to a pan or stirring!  But it was still a lot of fun and I left with some great cooking tips and a packet of six new and dazzling squash recipes.  This week was my first attempt at recreating one of the recipes: pumpkin seed pesto.  The pesto is nutty and flavorful, and it has a deeper flavor than your traditional pesto. 

In class, we used the pesto to complement a butternut squash soup (excellent idea!), but it would pair equally well with some cooked pasta and chopped basil.  Or you could feature this pesto in my eighth appetizer dish of the season!  (I'm giving myself until the New Year.....not sure if I'm going to make it!)  I ate these crostini for dinner the other night and they were soooooo gooooooooooood.  The biting flavor of the goat cheese paired insanely perfectly with the mellow pesto.  A sprinkling of freshly grated pepper and you will wow your friends with this great app!

Pumpkin Seed Pesto & Goat Cheese Crostini

for the pesto:
1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
1/3 cup toasted walnuts
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil (or as much as needed)*

Chop up the pumpkin seeds and walnuts in a food processor.  Add the cheese and pulse until finely chopped.  While the processor is on, drizzle in the olive oil slowly until everything comes together into a loose paste consistency.  Taste and season accordingly.

for crostini:
Pumpkin Seed Pesto
1 large Italian baguette, sliced into 1-inch slices
6 ounces of plain goat cheese

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Toast the baguette slices on one side for about 5-8 minutes, or until the exposed side is just getting crisp.  Remove from oven and let cool so you can handle the bread.

On each slice (the toasted side), spread on a layer of goat cheese, a little less than a tablespoon's worth.  Then top with a dollop of the pesto.  Sprinkle the crostini with freshly cracked pepper. 

Serve and enjoy!

*A quick word on the oil.  The original recipe from my class called for pumpkin seed oil in this recipe.  When I went to buy it at the store, I discovered that it's about $20 for a small bottle.  Sorry, but that is so not going to happen!!  Later, I realized that walnut oil would probably make a great substitute, but by that time I'd left the store and was set on using my standard olive oil.  You lose some of the depth of nutty flavor by substituting olive oil, but I still liked the floral sweetness that the olive oil brought to the pesto. 

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