A most unusual and tasty appetizer. Make a quick batch of pesto, then bake it into these easy Pesto Crisps.
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These Pesto Crisps were born in a toaster oven. It was on a day when I craved a toasted cheese sandwich and so laid slices of mozzarella on slices of bread with thick swaths of pesto. The slices were then slipped into the toaster oven to get toasty and broiled.
Under that heat, some pesto flowed over the edges and little pools of it bubbled and baked on the pan. I could not let these crisp little puddles go untasted. They were almost better than my sandwich: the savory pesto mellowed by the heat, the melted Parmesan forming a crisp crust.
I couldn't wait to try them again (intentionally.)
Why you'll love this recipe
Panko bread crumbs added to the regular pesto recipe give structure, lighten it and provide a toasted crunch.
The time in the oven mellows the garlicky bite of the pesto and melds the flavors. Even my pesto-disliking husband devoured several.
We enjoyed these crisps simply served with club crackers. They'd also be attractive served on mini baguette slices, with a little dollop of crème fraîche on top.
🔪How to make pesto crisps
- Basil: Use fresh leaves with no brown spots
- Garlic: You'll need three cloves
- Pine Nuts: Look for these in the aisle with Italian foods
- Parmesan: For the best flavor and results, grate a fresh wedge
- Olive Oil: Use a good quality extra-virgin oil
- Panko Breadcrumbs: These are for texture and to hold things together
Step 1: Blanch the basil
Plunge fresh basil leaves quickly into boiling water, then shock them in an ice bath.
Step 2: Make the pesto
Add basil, pine nuts, oil, cheese, and garlic into a food processor, and whir everything until blended.
Step 3: Scoop
Add breadcrumbs to the pesto, then scoop rounds onto a baking sheet.
Step 4: Bake
Bake the pesto rounds until they're lightly browned and set. Serve them warm or at room temperature.
The recipe for Pesto Crisps is below, and here are more appetizer ideas to try:
💬 When you try these crisps, leave a comment about them below.
- 4 cups fresh basil leaves
- 3 cloves garlic peeled
- ¼ cup pine nuts
- ½ cup Parmesan cheese finely grated
- 3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- ⅓ cup panko breadcrumbs
- Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a large saucepan.
- Meanwhile, fill a medium bowl about halfway with cold water. Add several ice cubes to the cold water. Lay out a paper towel by the ice water bowl.
- Add the basil leaves to the boiling water and stir them gently for about 15 seconds. Immediately remove the leaves with a slotted spoon and submerge them in the ice bath, which will stop the cooking.
- Remove the leaves from the ice bath and transfer them to the paper towel. Use a second paper towel to gently press the water from the leaves, removing as much water as you can without damaging the basil.
- Place the basil, garlic, pine nuts and Parmesan into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse several times until the ingredients are chopped and thoroughly combined, scraping down the sides as necessary.
- With the food processor running, add the oil in a slow, steady stream through the spout in the top. Watch the mixture carefully and add only enough oil to make a smooth, blended pesto.
- Scoop the pesto into a medium bowl and stir in the panko breadcrumbs.
- Preheat the oven to 375° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Line a cooling rack with a paper towel.
- Scoop out the pesto mixture in tablespoon-sized amounts and drop them on the parchment 2 inches apart. Use your fingers or the back of a spoon to flatten the scoops slightly.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes until the edges have begun to brown and they seem set. Carefully transfer the crisps with a spatula from the baking sheet to the paper towel lined cooling rack. (The paper towel will absorb oil from the bottoms.)
- Serve while still warm or at room temperature.
- Makes about 30 crisps.
- This recipe includes steps to blanch the basil before using it in the pesto. I like to take this step because it helps preserve the beautiful, bright green of the basil, which normally begins to darken as soon as the leaves are cut.
I’d like to try using a pre-made pesto (such as from the larger container sold at Costco) to make these crisps. Would you estimate how much pesto your recipe above makes? Any thoughts on this possible shortcut?
Great question! My recipe makes about 2 cups, however I use less oil than a regular pesto recipe or store-bought. So, I think that you will need to increase the amount of panko breadcrumbs in step 7 to make the store-bought pesto thick enough for the baking step. I’ll make a note to test this recipe with a store-bought pesto in the near future so I can add that variation to my recipe. Thank you!!