Every summer, my family and I plant a garden with fresh herbs and vegetables. There’s nothing like having produce out in your backyard. You have a constant supply all summer long, and you get to use food right from the ground in your cooking. We tend to get an abundance of basil and mint each year, so I was inspired to use these herbs in a pesto.
Pesto is one of my favorite things to make. It’s a classic, yet has so many possible variations. It originated in Italy and traditionally consists of basil, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, garlic and olive oil. All of these flavors are found in my recipe, but I twist it up with fresh mint and a little parsley. I add lemon juice and zest for a bright, acidic bite, and finish it off with some honey. The honey adds a sweetness that works really well with the other ingredients.
The perfect combination? Rich pesto, crunchy bread, and soft, creamy mozzarella cheese. The flavors and textures of these three components blend together in a mouthwatering bite of bruschetta. And for an extra touch of indulgence, I reduce balsamic vinegar into a luscious syrup to spoon over the top.
Brands I Use:
Colavita Balsamic Vinegar of Modena
Any local honey
Diamond Pine Nuts
Bel Gioioso Fresh Mozzarella
Side note – I originally made this bruschetta with ciabatta, a rustic Italian white bread. However, I have been unable to find a good loaf at the store, so I switched to a baguette for the recipe. Either works, use whichever you can find or prefer.
- 1 ½ cups balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 2 cups basil leaves
- 1 cup mint leaves
- ¾ cup parsley leaves
- ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons pine nuts
- ½ cup + 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 large clove of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 2 tablespoons honey
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 baguette
- olive oil
- 3 balls of fresh mozzarella
- In a small saucepan, bring the balsamic vinegar, sugar, and honey to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook down for about 20 minutes (see Kayla’s notes).
- In a small sauté pan, toast the pine nuts on low heat for about 5 minutes (see Kayla’s notes). Meanwhile, combine the basil, mint, parsley, Parmesan cheese, garlic, lemon juice, lemon zest, honey, and salt in a food processor. When the pine nuts have cooled, add those in as well. Pulse the mixture until all of the ingredients are finely chopped. Slowly drizzle the olive oil into the food processor as it runs. Process until the pesto is fully incorporated and smooth.
- Cut the baguette into thick slices. Heat some olive oil over medium-high heat on a griddle or in a sauté pan, just enough to coat the bottom. Cook the bread until golden brown on each side (about 3 minutes per side).
- Spread the pesto onto the toasted bread. Slice the mozzarella cheese and place one or two slices on each piece of bread. Season the cheese with salt. Drizzle with the balsamic syrup.
- Make sure to keep a close eye on the balsamic as it reduces. Once it boils, you want to cook it low and slow. It can burn very quickly!
- Also watch the pine nuts as they cook so they do not burn. Keep the burner on a very low setting. As soon as you smell a nutty flavor and the pine nuts are just slightly golden, remove them from the heat. You can alternatively toast them in the oven for 5-8 minutes at 375°F.