Tag Archives: pesto

French Bread / Grilled Vegetable & Pesto Paninis

11 Aug

Ah, the beloved crusty french bread. A seemingly difficult task to recreate this fluffy/crispy dichotomy, it turns out to be a rather simple recipe with a few basic ingredients. When I stumbled across this recipe at “Gourmet Mom On the Go”, I immediately knew I had to try it. Such an easy approach to making something I would typically buy in the store. I pretty much followed her recipe exactly, except I made it even easier…by utilizing by bread maker. Lazy lazy, I know, but it got the job done without me worrying if I had killed the yeast! I also didn’t roll the dough out like she did…I just kind of blobbed it together until it was a nice shape. Sidenote: shape it into a boule and you have an AWESOME breadbowl for a hearty soup! Might have to try this in the winter… This bread was perfect for what I had in mind for dinner: PANINIS!

We’re getting to that awkward point in the week where it’s too soon to go to the grocery, yet you have to use some creativity to figure something out for dinner. Zucchini squash, heirloom beefsteak tomatoes, bell peppers, and a quick spinach pesto make these hearty paninis. The squash and bell peppers were tossed in some olive oil + salt/pepper and grilled for a few minutes. I whipped up the spinach pesto using a couple handfuls of fresh baby spinach (feel free to sub some fresh basil in there), walnuts, garlic, salt+pepper, and olive oil. Whizzed it in the VitaMix until pasty and spread it on the sliced french bread. I bought a couple heirloom beefsteak tomatoes the other day from a little farm that’s across the street from the library I work at…in the middle of the neighborhood! Such a neat little farm. The tomatoes tasted SO good fresh, no need to grill or prepare them any other way. Layered the grilled vegetables on top of everything and whipped out the panini press. It’s always nice to kind of feel like you’re justifying having a ridiculous amount of kitchen gadgets by actually using them. If you don’t have a panini press, just make them like you would a grilled cheese. Or even throw them on the grill if you’re looking for those authentic grill lines. Quick and easy dinner using ingredients I already had. Love it.

The bulk of my day tomorrow will play out as such: up early to go to a couple intriguing estate sales to scope out some Pyrex, whip together a fruit salad for a pot luck at work tomorrow, work, rejoice at being one day closer to having the children out of the library and back at school, and finally, come home. Relax. Possibly do something with the butternut squash that’s been sitting on the counter. Perhaps. But now? TO BED!


Grilled Bruschetta / Spinach Pesto Pizza with Fresh Basil!

27 Jul

This turned out. so. good. So many rich flavors coming together!

Inspiration hit me at 9:30 this morning and I just HAD to start making something! I quickly threw together a simple pizza crust recipe (adapted from the recipe book that came with my handy Zojirushi bread machine), pushed a couple buttons and had 45 minutes before it would be ready. In those 45 minutes, I walked to the grocery store down the street, picked up $30 worth of goodies and fresh produce and made it back with 6 minutes to go on the dough timer!

I stuffed the Vitamix full of the spinach pesto ingredients, but didn’t blend until I really was ready to use it (after the crust was cooked!)


While the grill was preheating, I lobbed off a portion of the large amount of pizza dough (the rest ended up in the freezer for a future recipe) and created a rectangular shape (about 12″ x 8″) that wasn’t as thick as a normal pizza, but not thin-crust either. I had subbed Whole Wheat Pastry Flour for the majority of the all-purpose flour in the recipe and noticed it was a little harder to work with (see Notes). Once prepared, I grabbed a brush and a small bowl of canola oil and generously covered one side of the crust with it (so it doesn’t stick to the grill!) The crust doesn’t need to fully cook while it’s on the grill this first time–it will have some more time to finish after the topping are put on. Left it there for a few minutes, brushed more oil on the uncooked side and flipped. Take off the grill and bring it back inside!

I quickly chopped some Roma tomatoes up, removed most of the seeds and mixed them with some Olive Oil, minced garlic, salt/pepper and balsamic vinegar. Blended the pesto until paste-like and was ready to make the pizza! WAIT. Forgot a very tasty ingredient! I picked some fresh basil from my little indoor garden (6 basil plants really give you a lot) and using scissors, cut the leaves in strips. Assembling the pizza goes as follows: dump pesto paste onto pre-grilled crust. spread around the green gloriousness. spoon the bruschetta on top (don’t worry about the balsamic vinegar, it won’t make it mushy). dramatically drape the strips of fresh basil over the bruschetta. done! Now head all this back over to the grill to heat it up a little bit longer and then you’re ready to eat! Delicious! So many fresh flavors coming together with the tangy balsamic vinegar and creaminess of the pesto. Who needs cheese? 🙂

Whole Wheat Pizza Dough (Adapted from Zojirushi Bread Machine Recipe Book)

  • 1 1/4 cups Water (I add a couple tablespoons more just because I’m at higher altitude…and using whole wheat pastry flour)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil (Used garlic-infused OO)
  • 3 3/4 cups bread flour (Used 2 3/4 c. whole wheat pastry dough and 1 c. all-purpose. See Notes)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp sugar (Used honey! Agave nectar would work well too)
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast (or 2 tsp rapid rise yeast)
  • A few dashes of any spices you think would add lots of flavor (i.e. oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, etc)

I used a bread machine so I took the easy way out on this one. Pretty much just set it and didn’t have to worry about it. Any basic pizza dough recipe (like this one) will walk you through how to do it the harder traditional way 🙂

Spinach Pesto

  • A couple handfuls of fresh baby spinach leaves (or make a more traditional pesto with basil!)
  • Minced Garlic
  • 1/4 cup Walnuts or Pine Nuts
  • 1/4 cup Romano or Parmesan cheese (optional!)
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt/Pepper to taste

Throw all ingredients into a blender or food processor. I recommend blending this into a thick paste, rather than leaving it chunkier. It spreads much nicer this way!


  • 5-6 Roma tomatoes (depending on how large your pizza is!)
  • Olive Oil
  • Minced Garlic
  • Salt/pepper to taste
  • Balsamic vinegar

Roughly chop the tomatoes and toss in a bowl with olive oil (just enough to coat, not soak), minced garlic, salt&pepper. Add in balsamic vinegar slowly, to taste. I love the strong flavor of it, so I probably used 1/8+ cup. The longer this stuff sits, the more the flavors blend and start to taste amazing! If you actually use this as an appetizer, add the fresh basil directly to it and put it on some crusty bread! Yum.


  • My whole wheat crust didn’t hold up quite as well as I’d hoped. Tasted great, but easily fell apart on the grill. I might lessen the ratio of whole wheat flour to all-purpose and see if that works better. Also might try adding a bit more oil or some gluten to it. Very tasty, little too fragile.
  • This meal was a little heavy for mid-day, since now all I want to do is nap. Might be better suited for dinner or make a lighter crust!
  • A balsamic reduction drizzled over the top of this would have been a superb addition, as it would have contrasted nicely with the fresh colors and added a bit of tangy sweetness.

This pizza was gobbled up quickly! None left! I’ll just have to make it again sometime soon…