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The Kitchen’s Yogurt Pesto Dip

February 22, 2018 Appetizer, Menu No Comments

I always find it fun and exciting when inspiration for a new recipe comes my way while watching one of my many favorite food television programs. Most times, the recipes that I gravitate towards are ones that grab my attention for their simplistic ingredients and the flexibility of shaping them into my own little creations. However, a recent recipe that I saw on The Food Network’s The Kitchen had me both intrigued and perplexed.

Dapper-dressed tv chef and co-host Geoffrey Zakarian was mixing up a low-calorie, low-fat, low-cholesterol, heart-healthy party dip that called for only two ingredients….pesto and Greek yogurt. While I am a huge fan of both ingredients when used separately, the mere suggestion of the two distinctive tastes coming together as one had me stumped. Co-host Sunny Anderson’s reaction seemed just as confused as mine, but quickly agreed that the combined ingredients made for a great, tasty dip. There was no turning back for me at this point.

Yogurt Pesto Dip: Take 1

The ingredients, as I mentioned earlier, are very simple: 1 cup plain Greek yogurt and 1/4 cup pesto (store bought is fine, home made is even better), with a bit of Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper for taste. Geoffrey’s suggestion was to use full fat Greek yogurt. I understand that the full fat variety would offer more texture and richness to the recipe, however finding a single serving cup of full fat Greek yogurt can be a challenge. Usually you would have to buy the full fat plain variety in a large quart size container. Whenever I eat Greek yogurt, I opt for the fat-free variety. To avoid having a container of leftover full fat Greek yogurt on hand, I decided to give the recipe a try by using the fat-free variety. The dip was tasty. The balance of the zesty pesto and creaminess of the yogurt made for a nice, refreshingly tasty dip with a tart zip to it. But, as predicted, the texture was a bit thin. Adding some olive oil for additional flavor only made the texture even thinner.

Yogurt Pesto Dip: Take 2

Still not wanting to give in to the purchase of a full fat container, I decided to give the recipe a try with a 7-oz single serving container of 2% Greek yogurt. There was definitely a difference in texture. Much thicker and creamier, and again with the addition of a drizzle of olive oil and some Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper…mmmm mmmm, good!!!

What I really like about this dip is its versatility. Not only are there lots of health benefits to it – the fresh herbs and healthy olive oil benefits in the pesto, and the proteins, calcium and probiotics found in the yogurt – there are also a number of ways that you can serve the dip. Sure, it serves well with chips and fresh cut vegetables. But it also worked amazingly well with baked potatoes, chicken and salmon. I’m sure it would even complement a nice steak…I just haven’t gotten to that yet.

So, if you are looking for a recommendation for a versatile, tasty and healthy dip, this is the one you have to try!

 

Yogurt Pesto Dip

Courtesy of The Kitchen

1 cup plain Greek yogurt (I used a 7-0z single serving container of 2% yogurt)
1/4 cup pesto (store bought or home made)
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil

Add the yogurt and pesto to a medium bowl and stir until fully combined. Drizzle in the olive oil. Add the salt and pepper to taste. Stir and serve.

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Pesto Bread Twists

December 30, 2015 Appetizer, Menu No Comments

The big New Year’s Eve party is just hours away…and you’re still trying to figure out what appetizer to bring or serve? This easy recipe is a quick and perfect solution. Before I get into the steps, yes you can use your own pizza dough recipe or your own pesto recipe if you wish.  But for a quick time-saving solution, a jarred pesto and pre-made pizza dough will definitely do the trick.

Assuming we’re going the quick route, you’ll need one tube of thin crust square pizza dough, or your favorite pizza dough rolled into a thin square, one jar of pesto and one egg. And that’s it. Seriously! Simply pre-heat your oven to 425˚, follow the steps below, and in under 15 minutes you will have a tasty and zesty appetizer that will be sure to please.

 

 

Step 1: roll out the dough, making sure to keep it thin.

Step 1: roll out the dough, making sure to keep it thin.

 

Step 2: Cut the dough in half, length-wise.

Step 2: Cut the dough in half, length-wise.

 

Step 3: Top one of the halves with pesto, leaving at least 1/2"border on all four sides.

Step 3: Top one of the halves with pesto, leaving at least 1/2″border on all four sides.

 

Step 4. Place the second half of the dough on top of the pesto-coated piece.

Step 4. Place the second half of the dough on top of the pesto-coated piece.

 

Step 5: Cut the layered dough into 1-1/2" wide strips.

Step 5: Cut the layered dough into 1-1/2″ wide strips.

 

Step 6: Twist the slices, place them onto a greased baking sheet, and brush with an egg wash.

Step 6: Twist the slices, place them onto a greased baking sheet, and brush with an egg wash.

 

Step 7: Bake in 425˚ oven for 8-12 minutes, or until the tops start to brown. Serve and enjoy!

Step 7: Bake in 425˚ oven for 8-12 minutes, or until the tops start to brown. Serve and enjoy!

 

 

pestotwist10

 

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Carrot Pecan Pesto

November 11, 2015 Appetizer, Entrees, Menu, Pasta No Comments

Pesto is traditionally thought of as a pasta sauce that is made of fresh blended herbs, garlic, olive oil, grated cheese and pine nuts. Its most common ingredient is fresh basil. However, there are a number of creative variations that have popped up over the years. I like to do a half and half blend of basil and mint, and my sister-in-law makes a delicious pea pesto. This carrot and pecan version of pesto makes for a fantastic addition to your Thanksgiving menu. It would work well as an appetizer with fresh veggies or crackers. If pasta is part of your Thanksgiving dinner, it would be a nice alternative to a traditional marinara sauce/red gravy. And you can bet that slathering it on top of a turkey sandwich would be heavenly!

Before you break out your food processor or food chopper, you’ll want to first roast the carrots and pecans in the oven for 15 minutes. This will soften the carrots for easier chopping and will enhance the flavor of both the carrots and pecans. I decided to use pecans in this recipe because I feel that their taste is very complementary to carrots. You can use walnuts, pine nuts, macadamia nuts, or any holiday nut combination of your liking.

Carrot Pecan Pesto

1/2 lb baby carrots (1/2 of a small bag)
1/2 cup pecans
vegetable or canola oil
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
dash of ground ginger
1 tspn fresh thyme, plus additional for garnish
1/2 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375˚. Lightly coat the carrots with a small bit of vegetable or canola oil. Place the carrots and pecans onto a baking tray. Bake for 15 minutes, remove from oven.

Place the roasted carrots and pecans, parmesan cheese, ginger and thyme into a food processor. Pulse until finely chopped. Keeping the machine running, slowly add the olive oil until fully incorporated. You may need to scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl a few times. Season to taste with salt and pepper, garnish with additional sprigs of fresh thyme.

 

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Grilled Chicken Italiano

June 30, 2015 Entrees, Menu No Comments

Growing up in South Philadelphia, I have enjoyed more than my share of delicious and delectable sandwiches. While cheesesteaks, hoagies and roast pork sandwiches rank among highest on most Philadelphians’ lists, my all time favorite ‘sang-weech’ is the classic Chicken Italiano. Seasoned chicken breast, broccoli rabe, prosciutto and provolone packed in a crispy Italian roll…what is there not to love? Now I do realize that there are different variations of a Chicken Italiano, using other ingredients such as peppers, mozzarella and sun dried tomatoes. But the prosciutto, provolone and rabe combination is the version that I fell in love with. For this post, I would like to share with you my grilled version of this amazing combination….a perfect dish for any summer cook-out!

This grilled version does differ just a bit from the classic sandwich. First, while broccoli rabe is one of my all-time favorite greens, I decided instead to use a home made basil-mint pesto. My garden is overloaded with fresh basil and mint, so I figured it would be a great opportunity to put both to good use. Of course, you can stick with the traditional broccoli rabe if you prefer. I also like to prepare and serve the chicken breasts whole. You can cut the chicken breasts into smaller pieces to serve in a sandwich if you like, but I find that cooking and serving the chicken breasts whole allows for prosciutto, provolone and pesto (or rabe) to melt evenly on top.

You’ll want to marinate the chicken breasts for a good two to four hours before grilling. You can find a good, basic lemon and garlic marinade by clicking here. You can also used a bottled marinade of your choice, but I would stick to a basic garlic, lemon or white wine flavored marinade. There are too many good tastes happening with this dish, so you don’t want to overpower the chicken with an strong-flavored marinade.

Grilled Chicken Italiano

4-6 boneless and skinless chicken breasts
4-6 slices prosciutto
4-6 slices provolone cheese
*Basic lemon-garlic marinade (see recipe below) or 1 bottle marinade (any combination of garlic, lemon and white wine will work)
**Fresh basil-mint pesto (see recipe below)

Pierce chicken breasts with a fork to allow marinade to soak in. Place chicken breasts in a plastic bag, pour marinade into bag, making sure that all of the chicken breasts are well coated. Refrigerate for two to four hours.

Pre-heat your grill to high. Make sure that your grill grates are brushed with oil to avoid sticking. Reduce heat to medium-high, and place the chicken on the grill, discarding the bag with the used marinade. Keep lid closed. Turn chicken occasionally, until browned and done. Top the chicken breasts with a dollop of the pesto, a slice of provolone and a slice of prosciutto. Allow to heat for another few minutes until the cheese starts to melt and the prosciutto starts to slightly crisp. Remove from grill, serve and enjoy!

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*Lemon-Garlic Marinade
Adapted from food.com

2 cloves garlic, minced
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
3 tablespoons lemon juice, fresh preferred
1⁄8 teaspoon pepper

Combine all ingredients together to pour over chicken.

Note – this recipe’s measurements are for 1-1.5 lbs of chicken breasts. You may need to increase the ingredients for the amount of chicken breasts that you are making.

**Fresh Basil-Mint Pesto
Adapted from simplyrecipes.com

1 cup fresh basil leaves, packed
1 cup fresh mint leaves, packed
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano or Romano cheese
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup pine nuts or walnuts
3 medium sized garlic cloves, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Combine the basil and mint with the pine nuts, pulse a few times in a food processor. (If you are using walnuts instead of pine nuts and they are not already chopped, pulse them a few times first, before adding the basil.) Add the garlic, pulse a few times more.

Slowly add the olive oil in a constant stream while the food processor is on. Stop to scrape down the sides of the food processor with a rubber spatula. Add the grated cheese and pulse again until blended. Add a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Use immediately, or refrigerate in a sealed container for up to a week.
Makes 1 cup.

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