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Appetizers, Vegetarian

Hazelnut pesto puffs

Hazelnut pesto puffs
Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times

Order a glass of wine in Italy and you never drink alone. A little something to eat always turns up on the bar or cafe table. In the past, what the waiter brought was usually bizarrely un-Italian, whether potato chips ... Read more

Total time: About 1 hour, plus defrosting and chilling time | Serves 12 to 16 (makes 52 pieces)
  • 4 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves (2 medium bunches), washed and dried well
  • 1/3 cup loosely packed fresh Italian parsley leaves, washed and dried well
  • 1/3 cup toasted, skinned hazelnuts, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or to taste
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Flour for dusting work surface
  • 1 (14-ounce) package all-butter puff pastry, defrosted according to package directions
  • Butter for baking sheet

Step 1Combine the basil, parsley, hazelnuts and oil in a blender or food processor and process until smooth, scraping down the container frequently with a rubber spatula.

Step 2Transfer the mixture to a bowl and stir in the cheese and garlic. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Step 3Lightly flour a work surface. Cut the puff pastry in half and roll out one half to a thickness of one-eighth inch. Cut it into 3-inch wide strips. Spoon 2 to 3 tablespoons of the pesto down the center of each strip, leaving about a quarter-inch border on the long sides. Fold each strip over lengthwise from each side, overlapping slightly and pressing to seal. Turn the dough over so that the seam side is down. Cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces. Transfer to lightly buttered baking sheets, seam side down. Repeat with the remaining dough and pesto. Chill 30 minutes.

Step 4Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Bake the pastries on the center rack until they are puffed and lightly browned, about 20 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Note: Tapenade, green or black, can substitute for the pesto, as can anchoiade (Provencal anchovy paste). You could also just use grated cheese, such as Gruyere or Fontina, mixed with coarse-grain mustard.

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