Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Cherry Tomatoes Filled With Creamy Pesto Cheese

Cherry Tomatoes Filled With Creamy Pesto Cheese
This delicious and attractive appetizer is simple to prepare. You can make the creamy pesto filling ahead of time (keep it, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 2 days), but wait until shortly before serving to stuff the tomatoes.

Preparation Time: 35 minutes

3 cups fresh basil leaves, washed and dried
2 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped
1⁄2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoins pine nuts, toasted (see tip below)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 package (8 ounces) reduced-fat cream cheese (Neufchatel), cut into chunks
2 pints (4 cups) cherry tomatoes, washed and dried

1. Combine the basil, garlic, salt and pepper in a food processor. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the pine nuts and add the rest to the basil. Process until the pine nuts are ground. With the motor running, drizzle in the olive oil. Add the soft cheese and pulse until smooth and creamy.

2. Shortly before serving, make an X on the bottom side (opposite the stalk) of each cherry tomato with a serrated or sharp paring knife. Scoop out the seeds with a grapefruit spoon or your fingertips, taking care to keep the tomatoes intact.

3. Scrape the pesto cheese filling into a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle, or small plastic food bag with a 1cm hole snipped in one corner. Pipe a rosette of filling into each cherry tomato cavity. Garnish the cherry tomatoes with the remaining pine nuts. One serving is about three filled cherry tomatoes.

Serves 16

Nutrition Information
Per Serving: 64 cal, 2g protein, 2g carbohydrate, 0.6g fiber, 5g total fat (1.5g saturated fat), 8mg cholesterol, 0.14g salt. Tip: Toast pine nuts in a small dry skillet over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until light golden and fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl and let cool.

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