Soft, rich Brie cheese smothered with pesto is the type of appetizer you should never make at home alone because you'll eat the entire thing. The slightly warm cheese and creamy basil pesto melt together into a cheesy, garlicky appetizer that can be scooped up with slices of baguette.
There's no need to buy expensive Brie for this recipe; your favorite inexpensive supermarket Brie will do. Unless you have a store-bought pesto that you really love, take the time to make homemade pesto. It always seems to taste better than store-bought pesto and doesn't take all that much effort.
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 1 large garlic clove (skin removed)
- 1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (freshly grated)
- 1/4 cup Pecorino Romano cheese (freshly grated)
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 cups fresh basil leaves (loosely packed)
- 1/2-3/4 lb. Brie wedge
- Preheat oven to 325 F
- Combine pine nuts, garlic, and cheese in a food processor until finely chopped. With the food processor running, add olive oil. Pulse until a paste is formed, about 30-40 seconds. Add basil leaves. Pulse just until basil leaves are chopped and blended into the nut paste (unless you prefer a completely smooth texture).
- Put the wedge or round of Brie in a rimmed baking dish that can also be used to serve the Brie, or on a cookie sheet. Warm the Brie in the oven just until the edges are melting and bubbly, about 6-8 minutes. Be careful not to overheat, or the Brie will completely melt.
- Spread the pesto on top of the Brie. Extra pesto can be spooned around the brie, or placed in a separate bowl.
How to Keep Pesto Green
Once chopped and bruised, basil leaves begin to lose their bright green color. Basil pesto often turns dark green or even brown if it's not immediately eaten. The flavor is still good (although not as good as very fresh pesto), but the color is unappetizing.
So how can you keep pesto bright green? It's not easy. Adding a little bit of fresh or blanched baby spinach leaves can help add some green color, and doesn't change the flavor of the pesto much. Blanching the basil leaves in hot water (which slows down enzymes that turn the leaves brown) can also help, but it gives the pesto a slightly mushy texture and diminishes the flavor of the basil.
To blanch pesto leaves, plunge the leaves into boiling water for about 10 seconds, then remove and plunge the basil into a bowl of ice water. This is easiest to do if you leave the leaves attached to the stems. Shake the stems to remove as much water from the leaves as possible. Pat the leaves dry with paper towels.