Can an appetizer be a meal? YES. It can. I have been thinking about this recipe all week. Building layers in my mind while riding the train to work, reading food articles, along with the inspiration I usually pick up when seeing fresh ingredients at the market. Sometimes my best basket of ingredients come from a fast paced stop at the store. Follow your instincts, and know your flavors. I get a rush when I can see the finished product and then reverse engineer it.
To back up a step, this started with the pesto. I picked up this giant bag of shelled pistachios from Costco and have been putting them in salads and eating by the handful. I wanted to get more out of it. I also had Spinach. So there we have it. Spinach and Pistachio Pesto enter the scene.
Spinach and Pistachio Pesto
3 cups of fresh packed Spinach
2-3 cloves of garlic (depending on the size)
1/2 cup Fresh grated Parmesan Cheese
1/3 cup Pistachios
3/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp of squeezed lemon
Next up…. Let us roast the shrooms.
Roasted Baby Bella Mushrooms
1 lb Baby Bella Mushrooms- washed, trimmed, and quartered
3 Tbsp of Olive Oil
Chopped fresh Parsley
Preheat the oven to 375º and toss the mushrooms in a bowl with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Place on a lined baking pan and place mushrooms in a single layer. Bake for 15 minutes and take out the pan and remove excess liquid. Toss them around and place back in the oven for another 30-45 minutes. Keep an eye as they can roast at varying times. Take them out and sprinkle fresh parsley.
***One variation could be to add a sprig of rosemary or thyme while roasting. I left that out because I didn’t want to overpower the pesto. I might add it next time.
While the mushrooms were roasting, I started to prep the bread for the next steps….
So for this, slice your pretzel rolls on a bias just as you would normally for crostini. You get more surface area that way and it’s pretty for presentation. Place a nice thin layer of pesto on the bread and toast for 8-10 minutes. I was timing this with the mushrooms so it worked out pretty well.
The bread was good enough to eat by itself with the pesto toasted on it. I was patient. The smells were amazing though. It was tough.Now I had the bases covered and was ready to layer.
Ladies and gents, this was sensational. I would eat this over and over again all winter long. The flavors that came out of this were crazy good. The nuttiness in the pesto, the pretzel flavor and crunch, the creamy cheese, salty prosciutto, and savory roasted mushrooms were outstanding.
So to complete the meal I drank with a Midas Touch beer by Dogfish Head. It’s from their ancient ales line. Very tasty and might have been a little sweet with this meal, but still very good. The beer worked and it didn’t work. It had the right body for the meal. Nice medium body to hold up against the even countered body in the crostini. It had honey notes and muscat grape flavors that just didn’t jive. A better pairing would have been a maltier beer, with the same body. Or if we’re talking wine, then maybe a Pinot Noir or a medium bodied Rioja wine (as this definitely has a Spanish Tapas vibe to it) This recipe turned out even better than I had imagined. A success in my book.