Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Walnut Pesto Flatbread Mini-Bite Appetizer

OK... here's another one of those posts where I wish I was the guy handing out samples.  Let's be honest, some days I post winners, some days I post just to post.

But, If I could get you all to sample just one of these, they would be on your "regular" que.

You've seen these before.  Well, a version anyway.  Back in July, I made a flatbread savory vegetable tart with a base of my pizza dough.  The stuffing is a hearty walnut pesto on a bed of chopped tomatoes.  When baked, the roasted walnuts and roasted Parmesan cheese in the pesto fills your kitchen with incredible flavors and smells.

But, this time I made the pesto with a chili pepper infused olive oil to deepen the intensity of the flavors.  Don't know about you, but I seem to collect those little bottles of oil with different bits inside.  Garlic, sprigs of rosemary, peppercorns; someone even gave me one with a lemon in it.  I use em up and forget em.  Just nothing I would go out of my way to use again to repeat a taste.  But the chili oil in the pesto was a real winner.  Repeat whenever possible.

I made these ultra small.  About the size of a Ritz cracker.  Served them as my Appetizer for my 7 course meal.  I topped with my Sesame Seed/Garlic/Sea Salt spice mix (I like to call that my "Sodom and Gomorrah").

So, three recipe in this... the spice mix, the flatbread pizza dough and the pesto.  Those will be at the end of the post, here's the basic how to, followed by LOTS of pictures so you see what I mean...

First, I divided the dough into 2 balls (one twice as big as the other). I rolled the LARGE ball into a thin sheet,  @1/2 inch thick. Thick enough to be chewy on the inside, with a crispness on the outside.  I used a round cookie cutter with scalloped edges to get the "Ritz" look. I baked these until they are al dente done... only about 10 minutes at 350 degrees.

While that is cooking... The 2nd ball I rolled much flatter. These I cut into leaf shapes. Freehand, it is easy, one parenthesis shaped cut about 1 inch long. Close the parenthesis with the tips touching. A few simple accent cuts and it should look like a leaf. If you have a mini cookie cutter set, you can use that for the decorations. I have a set of Noah's Ark figures, African animals and a boat. those would look fun ringing the treat. Be creative.

Once the pizza shapes are cooked slightly, pull them out of the oven, top with sliced tomatoes, and the pesto. Top with the leaf decoration, and brush the sides of the dough with an egg wash. The egg makes things shine nice, as well as allows the decoration pieces of dough to stick. Brush the decoration pieces bottom sides with the egg as well, and arrange in an attractive (gourmet looking) manor. Brush the tops of the decorative pieces with the egg and sprinkle a bit of the "Sodom and Gomorrah".

Return to the oven for another 15 minutes until the leaf is toasty looking.

OK... Here's the recipes...

 Ohio Walnut Pesto...
2 cups fresh Basil Leaves
4 cloves Garlic
1/4 cup Walnut pieces
1/2 cup Extra Virgin Chili Pepper infused olive Oil
1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan Cheese
Combine the basil, garlic, and walnuts in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add 1/2 cup of the oil and process until fully incorporated and smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

If using immediately, add all the remaining oil and pulse until smooth. Transfer the pesto to a large serving bowl and mix in the cheese.
Pizza Dough...
4 1/2 cups chilled Flour
1 3/4 tsp Salt
1 tsp instant Yeast
1/4 cup Olive Oil
1 3/4 cups COLD Water (40 degrees)

OK, did you read the 2 cold ingredients. Takes an extra hour or two of planning, I measure the water and the flour and pop them in the fridge for a couple hours to get cold. The small amount of yeast, relative to the amount of flour and the cold will make for a flat bread, almost no fermentation (rise). Just enough to soften the taste, but not make a big rise.

In my pre Kitchenaid days, I mixed and kneaded this recipe in a gallon size ziplock bag. Worked great, largely I believe because of the oil in the recipe. Without that, the dough would be too sticky to mix in a bag. But this sure made clean up easy.

Here's what I did...

  • Mix the dry ingredients first
  • add the water and oil about a fourth of each at a time
  • mix well until all the flour is hydrated and you form a large dough ball in your bag 
  • continue kneading for about 10 minutes, or if you use your kitchenaid, use the dough hook attachment, and allow the machine to knead for 7 minutes
  • And now, time to divide... Generously sprinkle a work surface with flour. Also, prepare 4 ziplock sandwich size bags (bigger works fine as well) by spraying the insides of them with spray canola oil.
  • Plop the dough ball into the flour and coat well. Divide into 4 equal parts (or fewer if you know you are making larger pizzas). Put each dough ball into a prepared ziplock bag and refrigerate at least 6 hours, and preferably overnight.
When it comes cooking time, allow the dough to reach room temp.


Black and White Sesame Seed with Garlic Flakes and Sea Salt

This is the easy one...

Equal parts...
  • 1 part Coarse Sea Salt
  • 1 part dry Garlic Flakes
  • 1 part White Sesame Seeds (the Sodom)
  • 1 part Black Sesame Seeds (the Gomorrah)
  • Mix well
As pictured, two bites and done... the perfect sized appetizer.  I did make larger ones and served them to Jackie for lunch the day of the party.  

Next course was the SOUP!  I served a thick vegetable/Tomato Bisque...

But, that's a post for tomorrow!

And more courses to follow this week...



  1. this is one good looking appetizer - while I would substitute walnuts due to allergies I see little else that I would want to change - its pretty - its cooked perfectly - and its so NICE!

  2. Wow, you are one busy guy in the kitchen... the appetizer looks great but so does everything else in your collage... the last photo looks intriguing. ;-)

    Our temps are supposed to go back up into the 80s starting tomorrow, for at least the next 10 days with night temps in the 50s. Gaw, I love this time of year!!!!!

  3. Those appetizers are beautiful. I love the leaves on top...but really the idea of a shape on top opens up all sorts of possibilities.

  4. Note to self. Make chili oil.

    Second note to self - make these GORGEOUS appetizers and devour them all yourself. Oh wait. I didn't write that out loud did I? Hmmm.

  5. I.want.that! And the soup. I am weird, I hate tomatoes by themselves, but I love tomato soup!

    Hey Dave - sending you an email about BSI this week - just giving you a heads up!

  6. Very pretty appetizers! They look delish!

  7. My stomach just growled. I wish I would take the time to make these, better yet, I wish I was around when you are handing out samples.

  8. Oh man! I love these! The leaf cut-out is too cute. And of course, they look very delicious.

  9. Love this appetizer! If I were your poker buddies, I'd be expecting this one the next time it's your turn to be the host with the most.