I’m making it official: these toasts are being crowned my Appetizer of Holiday 2017. Each year, it always happens that I end up obsessing over one perfect snack-y bite, then serve it every excuse I can find throughout the season. We’re talking the Thanksgiving feast, holiday dinner party we always host for friends — plus potlucks, happy hours and family chats over glasses of wine in between. Last year, it was sweet potato crostinis, and this year it’s without a doubt these burrata toasts with caramelized walnuts and mint-pomegranate pesto. Not only are they addictively delicious, they’re Christmas colors, too! For the next post in our series with California Walnuts, I’m sharing the recipe for caramelized walnuts I’ve been making for years, and they happen to be the perfect sweet and crunchy topping for these toasts. Read on, and I’d love to hear what appetizers you guys are making this holiday season in the comments!
This recipe requires a little ingredient prep, but it can pretty much all be done in advance. I sliced the figs the night before and had our bakery slice the bread for me to ensure for super quick assembly. The caramelized walnuts can keep for a week in a jar at room temp or up to a month in the freezer, and the pesto is good for about 5 days in the fridge. Since this recipe has a pretty short ingredients list, it’s worth it to make each of those components really good since the simplicity allows each one to shine.
You know how there’s always one early bird to every holiday party, and they inevitably show up asking, “What can I do to help?” I like to be prepared with a specific job in mind, so when I’m rushing around with last-minute party details, I can put them right to work. Assembling these toasts is the PERFECT job for your willing little helper guest – just have the ingredients prepped and ready to go, then let them put it all together while you go light candles, turn on music, and put on your lipstick.
This is one of those recipes where all the ingredients magically meld together to create one perfect bite – you may find yourself going back for just one more, several times (don’t say I didn’t warn you.)
These caramelized walnuts have been in my entertaining arsenal for years, and I use them in so many different ways. Topping salads, adding sweetness to veggie side dishes, and even as an unexpected touch to vanilla ice cream. I like to make a big batch and store in a mason jar in the freezer so I always have them at the ready.
And this mint pesto is ridiculously good. Try it drizzled over roasted fall vegetables like butternut squash or served alongside salmon.
And there you have it! You’ve got my permission to make these your official Appetizer of Holiday 2017, too — just don’t tell anyone how easy they are to make, since I think I’ve got my friends fooled into thinking I’m a more advanced cook than I actually am.
By the way, did y’all catch the walnut-inspired holiday decorations we shared last week? They’re super easy to DIY, and will add the perfect festive touch to your tabletop or mantel – so hop over and check them out right here.
Stay tuned for more festive ideas in our holiday series with the California Walnuts in the next couple weeks, including savory dinner recipes, an apple cider bar, and a gorgeous holiday gathering!
Prep time: 10 mins | Cook time: 20 mins | Total time: 30 mins
Serving Size: 2 slices
- 1 cup California walnuts (shelled)
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 cup water
- 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt (I like to use Maldon)
- 1 loaf rustic country bread or french baguette (avoid a bread with too many "holes" in it or the ingredients will fall through)
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 ball of burrata cheese (or, substitute fresh mozzarella)
- 8 - 10 ripe fresh figs, sliced thinly
- 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
- 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves for garnish
for the mint pesto:
- 1/3 cup California walnuts (shelled)
- 2 cups fresh mint leaves
- 1 garlic clove
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- juice of 1 lemon
- Preheat the oven to 350 °F degrees.
- In a small saucepan, combine the walnuts, sugar and 1 cup water. Bring to a boil, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Cook over moderate heat, stirring, for 5 minutes.
- Using a slotted spoon, transfer the walnuts to a parchment-lined baking sheet, and sprinkle lightly with salt. Bake for 9 minutes, or until the nuts are fragrant and lightly caramelized. Let cool.
- Make the mint pesto by adding all ingredients to a food processor or blender, and blending until well-combined. I like to leave it a tiny bit chunky so you can see the flecks of the mint.
- Slice bread thinly into about 1/2-inch slices. Heat broiler (or, you could also use an indoor grill pan on stove.) Brush each side of bread slices with extra virgin olive oil, then broil until lightly charred, turning once, about 1 minute per side.
- Transfer to a cutting board. On each still-warm toast, spread about a teaspoon of the burrata. Drizzle with mint pesto, top with a slice or 2 of fresh figs, then scatter walnuts and pomegranates over the tops of the toasts. Cut each toast in half, and sprinkle with fresh mint leaves for garnish. Eat!