Sometimes the best things in life are simple. This is one of those times. There is nothing frilly or fancy about this recipe. It’s easy. If you make a good patch of pesto and stash it in your freezer, it is effortless. And the payoff is incredible. Who doesn’t love bread smothered in cheese?
Every year our kids are in a Christmas program in Ole’s hometown, just under two hours from here. We spend Christmas Eve there, and it seemed fitting that they’d participate. The catch is we have to then show up multiple weekends in a row for program practice. It makes the holidays last longer… On one such weekend, Saturday night, all the kids sleeping at grandma and grandpa’s house, we decided to go out. Alone. We ended up at Blue Bricks.
In a college town, Blue Bricks is toned down from the drunken dance fest around the corner and more interesting than BW3s a few doors down. Plus they have a good selection of beer. As I watched some company office party – complete with Christmas sweaters – rub elbows in the middle of the room, I scanned the menu, which is pleasantly different from most bar food in Southern Minnesota in that it has options other than french fries, burgers, mozzarella sticks and chicken wings. I ordered something similar to this cheese bread that night.
That there is fresh mozzarella. It is tasty. It melts wonderfully. It is necessary. And the pesto, out of the freezer. I don’t add the rest of the oil when I make cheese bread. It doesn’t need it. If you’re using a store-bought pesto, try to find one on the thicker side rather than the soupy side of life.
This happens to be a Schwan’s loaf of french bread. I like to keep them around. Any decent loaf of soft french bread will do, or you can make your own if you are into that.
Cut the bread down the middle.
Spread on the pesto. Don’t be stingy. There is plenty of bread below and cheese going above to balance all the basil goodness.
Slice the mozzarella into medallions. You could also buy this pre-sliced if’n you were so inclined.
Cover all the pesto with the medallions.
Into the oven it goes.
This was about 8 minutes at 425° F. It could have used a bit more so more of the cheese started to brown ever so slightly, but I was impatient. And hungry.
It’s fantastic on its own, with or without marinara sauce to dip it in, and it is a wonderful side to steaks, pastas, chicken, whatever you happen to be eating.
It compliments spaghetti and meatballs exceptionally well.
|Pesto Cheese Bread to Eat with Everything|
1 loaf french bread
1/3 cup pesto
4 ounces fresh mozzarella
Preheat oven to 425° F. Slice loaf of bread lengthwise and spread pesto on liberally. Thinly slice mozzarella into medallions and lay over top of the pesto. Place bread on a cookie sheet and bake at 425° F for 10-15 minutes until top of cheese just begins to brown.
2-3 servings as an appetizer
5-7 servings as a side dish