Caprese Salad Kebabs with Spinach-Basil Pesto

With the warm weather upon us (100 degrees for the past two days at my house) I know I will be attending countless backyard barbecues, pool parties, graduation celebrations and other outdoor events.

What will all these events have in common?

Yucky, mushy salads that have been sitting out and left to glop together in the summer’s heat.  It’s really disgusting.

That is why, salad on a stick, is so PERFECT for the blazing hot summer afternoons.  The salad itself reminds me of the County Fair where everything from Twinkies to Gyros are pierced with a skewer and served to the crowds.  It’s really a brilliant concept, food on a stick that is.

These Caprese Salad Kebabs with spinach-basil pesto are the answer to your summery salad woes.

No more wilted, mushed up lettuce with a clotted mayonnaise based dressing will be passed around the picnic table.  And this couldn’t be the more perfect poolside treat.

Headed to the park?  Stash the kebabs and pesto in separate containers for the cooler and assemble there.  Even using clear plastic cups to serve this salad will not take away from it’s elegant refreshing taste.

So let’s put these together.  It’s a breeze.

Here’s what you’ll need: Fresh spinach, fresh basil leaves, Parmesan cheese, pine nuts, white wine vinegar, kosher salt, extra virgin olive oil, grape tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and bamboo skewers.

Blanch 4 cups of fresh spinach and 2 cups of fresh basil leaves in boiling water for 30 seconds.  This process will help retain the beautiful green color of the spinach and basil.

Plunge the spinach and basil into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking.

Drain the spinach and basil well on paper towels, blot dry.

Blend the blanched spinach and basil leaves with 1/2 cup grated Parmesan, 4 Tablespoons toasted pine nuts,
2 Tablespoons white wine vinegar
and 1 teaspoon kosher salt in a food processor.

While the food processor is running, drizzle in 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil.

That’s quite the beautiful green, isn’t it?  Put pesto in the refrigerator while you prepare the kebabs.

Cut fresh mozzarella into cubes.

Thread skewers with mozzarella and grape or cherry tomatoes.  After threading, trim the skewers to about 6-inches in length, depending on the size of the glass being used.

Serve the skewers with the pesto for dipping.  I cannot even tell you how yummy this is.  And the presentation is striking.

Put them in any glass you want.  The world is your oyster.

Everyone will love you for bringing these to the party.  No mushy salads will ruin the festivities.

The summer just got a whole lot better.

Caprese Salad Kebabs with spinach-basil pesto
adapted from Cuisine at Home

4 cups fresh spinach
2 cups fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
4 Tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
2 Tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2/3 cup olive oil
Bamboo skewers trimmed to 6″ lengths or whatever size needed
Grape or cherry tomatoes (about 2 cups)
Fresh mozzarella, cubed (about 8 oz) –if fresh mozzarella isn’t available, use cubes of feta or Havarti instead

Blanch spinach and basil in boiling water just until wilted, about 30 seconds.  Transfer to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking; drain the leaves well and blot dry with paper towels.

Toast pine nuts in a nonstick skillet over med-high heat, until fragrant.

Blend blanched spinach and basil with Parmesan cheese, pine nuts, white wine vinegar and kosher salt in a food processor.
Drizzle in oil while machine is running; set pesto aside, preferably in refrigerator.

Thread skewers with tomatoes and cheese cubes.  Serve skewers with pesto for dipping.

And if your children are anything like mine…they won’t eat the pesto.  So a simple ranch dressing will have to do.

Post a Comment


  1. Diane 1

    Wow that looks so summery! It’s raining and cold here in the UK after a fortnight of hot sunny weather, so salad isn’t top on my mind! But what a lovely idea for a salad! You could do feta, olives and tomatoes too! That’d be striking to look at – will have to get my greek cookery book out to find a nip dip, but maybe some nice cucumber in yoghurt would be good?
    We have those tiny plum tomatoes in the shops at the moment – they might be interesting to use too. Thanks for the yummy idea!

  2. What a cool idea! The pesto in and of itself looks fantastic!

  3. Those are beautiful! Love the glass! Are those bees?

  4. What a great idea! I have never heard of salad on a stick but these look like something that I definitely wish to try. It would most likely be a great way to get the kids to eat more veggies as well.

  5. That looks like a great idea. Now if I could find a party to get invited to.

  6. There you go again…saving the day!! What a great idea, I can’t wait to try it out!

  7. What gorgeous colours! I would eat ALL those salad-sticks.

    And I love your pesto recipe…

  8. They are very pretty! What a great idea for summer!

  9. Those look gorgeous and delicious! I am so going to make these at our next bbq! That is if we ever get summer like weather here in New England…

    I had to laugh at your suggestion of giving the kids ones with ranch. My daughter wouldn’t eat the pesto either, but she will eat anything as long as it has ranch to go with it.

  10. The colors stand out much more and looks more appetizing than in a bowl. I might try this with fruit too. Thanks for sharing!

  11. Bill 11

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  12. krysta 12

    This one goes on the list of must try now! I do fruit kabobs for all the parties I go to and they are a hit so I know these will go over well too!

    Arg, the heat just stinks…

  13. Kiki 13

    I LOVE this idea. I’m so going to do this recipe. Thanks noble pig for the gorgeous idea.

  14. Jules 14

    What a refreshing treat!…What time is lunch?

  15. How cute is that? So making it.

  16. Mrs. L 16

    What an awesome idea! I hope no one minds but I’ll probably double dip into that pesto with my skewers.

  17. Tipper 17

    Those look so elegant they would be great at all the June weddings this year.

  18. Kevin 18

    What a healthy and tasty looking snack. Great presentation and photos!

  19. omg – how brilliant !! I never would have come up with this, myself.

    I’m just thinking – these would be way easier to take to work instead of a salad, and also make a great change from the usual pot luck salads at work.

    Thank you :D I’m adding this one to my collection of yummy eats !!

  20. Alisa 20

    YUM-MEY!!! Can’t wait to try these.

  21. Molly 21

    Love, love, love this idea. Caprese salad is already one of my favorites, what a great new twist.

    How is that pesto sauce on pasta? Does it work?

  22. Jules 22

    Great photos…v-cleaver presentation…great for a party, however I would stick the skewers into a cabbage head with the dips on the side!

  23. Steph 23

    What a great idea! It sounds soooo good too!

  24. Mike 24

    So simple but so elegantly and creatively presented! Very fit for the backyard BBQ scene–I love it!

  25. pam 25

    What a fantastic idea! I love it!

  26. Beautiful presentation. I’ve always made my pesto with raw basil. I’ve never blanched it before, wonder what the difference is. I think it would be fun to put a variety of veggies on the skewers too. You make everything look like a cocktail girl even veggies.
    I may amke some for Piglets graduation, I think it would be fun. Your right about the ranch dressing for kids it gets easier. Could always add soem food coloring to it, how about BLUE?

  27. Flea 27

    Oh my WORD that looks good. You have the bestest recipes!

  28. giz 28

    First of all, the pictures are incredible – great job!!!

    Your description of those salads – oh man, can I relate. Don’t you just love picking up a wilted sloppy looking caesar salad – eeeeyyuck. Such a nice alternative and a gazillion ways to present it too.

  29. This is genius! I absolutely love it! I can’t wait to try it!

  30. Jen 30

    I have been stopping in and reading you blog for a few months. I have subscribed to it. I think your blog is great. I have learned some things I didn’t know about wine and a few other things. So I wanted to stop by and say thanks for sharing all this neat stuff. I read every day. You seem to have this blog stuff down to a T. Me I am very new to this and trying very hard. Well if you get a chance stop by my site and please tell me what you think. Would love to have your views.
    Thanks again for sharing all you do. And I have tried your salad on the stick. Awesome ideal.

  31. laura 31

    this looks so amazing! and thanks for the alternative because my clowns DON’T like pesto. i knew there would be problems when i dropped them on their heads when they were babies.
    i found you by way of my neighbor to the north, evil chef mom.

  32. grace 32

    “brilliant” is an understatement. fun to eat, awesome presentation, delicious (oh, how i love pear tomatoes…i should’ve gotten some for my “garden”), and no plate required. i commend you. :)

  33. Elle 33

    Brilliant idea! They look delicious and gorgeous!

  34. Stacy 34

    These look so pretty and so delicious! I love the sound of the pesto, too.

  35. Lori 35

    What a great idea with the sticks, and it makes such a lovely presentation! And with pesto or ranch, I would love it either way. :)

  36. Tigger 36

    OMG Can you make me a book of recipes my mouth is drooling! I’m sorry Nana but you got replaced in cooking by Noble Pig!

  37. holy crap, it’s too f’n cute for words. i’m totally making this, and am now on a mission to see how many different dishes i can figure out how to get on a stick.

  38. food on a stick. what’s not to love? but i’ll eat fresh mozarella, tomatoes and pesto any way, any day…

  39. Very clever and eye-catching idea! Love the way this looks.

  40. Daziano 40

    Now, this is a great and creative version of a timeless classic!

  41. What a great idea, girl!

  42. sarah 42

    this is a great idea, but the olive oil in the pesto was a little much for me. also make sure not to toast the pine nuts for too long or else the taste is VERY strong!

  43. Mike 43

    Tried it and it was good. But the mellow flavors of the cheese abd cherry/grape tomatos was overwhelmed by the pesto. Nice try tho.


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