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.