Herb Crusted Rack of Lamb with Mint Pea Pesto

I sure hope you’re ready for more MEAT!

A beautiful Herb Crusted Rack of Lamb served with Fresh Mint Pea Pesto.
This post was created in partnership with True Aussie Beef & Lamb and Big Green Egg in exchange for free product. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you for continuing to support the brands that make CaliGirl Cooking possible!

Because this Herb Crusted Rack of Lamb with Mint Pea Pesto is one for the books and I need you to make it ASAP.

First, important question: How do you feel about lamb? Do you love it? Hate it? Haven’t tried it? I never knew until recently how uncommon lamb as a meat option is in the greater United States. I mean, I grew up in California, with a fairly progressive upbringing food-wise, but I was recently pretty surprised when I was at a luncheon (not in California) that served lamb as the main dish and soooo many people at my table had either never tried it or just not grown up eating it.


Man, have they all been missing out! I was already a big fan of lamb before my partnership with True Aussie Beef & Lamb, but I have to say I became even more so (and converted a few non-lamb eaters) after I tasted the product I was sent. Seriously, guys, #TrueAussieLamb is LEGIT and I’ve made the most delicious Herb Crusted Rack of Lamb with Mint Pea Pesto to showcase it.

Two beautiful lamb lollipops of Herb Crusted Rack of Lamb with Mint Pea Pesto.

This is my second post partnering with True Aussie Beef & Lamb and our friends at Big Green Egg to help you #ownyourparty this summer, and I couldn’t be more excited about it. You can see my ranting and raving about BOTH companies’ amazing products in the first recipe I created for this partnership, Island Style Teriyaki Beef Sliders (which you should also be making ASAP.)

But really, I kept waiting for one of the meats that True Aussie Beef & Lamb sent me to be #average, and I’m happy to report that was most definitely never the case. Every time we bit into a new recipe I created featuring their beef or lamb, we were groaning with delight about how tender and decadently flavorful the meat was. If you haven’t tried their stuff yet, you’re definitely missing out.

Herb Crusted Rack of Lamb is prepped and ready to go on the Big Green Egg!

Okay, and the Big Green Egg. I’m giving that a much deserved shout-out as well because it is so. much. fun. To be honest, I know the basics of grilling, but the hubs takes care of most of the outdoor cooking in our household. When our Big Green Egg was delivered, I was determined to learn how to use it so I could take all the credit for these tasty dishes I was creating. I’m happy to say that, aside from pouring the charcoal in and lighting the fire (because, yo, preggo lady over here) I was able to learn exactly what needed to let these cuts of meat shine in all their glory.

So let’s get into it and talk about this Herb Crusted Rack of Lamb with Mint Pea Pesto, shall we? As I mentioned before, I was raised eating a fair amount of lamb, and it’s one of my favorite meats to cook. I’d put it in the red meat category, but it tends to have a much more grassy, herbal flavor than your AVERAGE beef (important to note that, because #TrueAussieBeef is definitely not average.) Because of this, you really don’t need to do much to it when cooking, however there are a few ingredients that pair fabulously with it.

Can you guess what those might be? You got it! Fresh herbs (especially rosemary,) mint and peas!!

Mint Pea Pesto is the perfect, easy accompaniment to Herb Crusted Rack of Lamb.

Here’s the 4-1-1 for this recipe that involves allll of these perfect flavors:

We start out by massaging our rack of lamb with a simple yet tasty blend of fresh garlic, rosemary, salt, pepper and a bit of olive oil to make it all stick. Throw that beautiful piece of herb crusted lamb on your Big Green Egg (yes, one could be yours, see below!) and give it a nice sear. It doesn’t take much, our rack of lamb is delicate and tastes so much better when there is still a little bit of pink in the center of the meat.

Herb Crusted Rack of Lamb is thrown into the fire of the Big Green Egg for a delicious sear.

Meanwhile (or even before you get to cooking the lamb,) you’ll want to whip up the creamy, fresh Mint Pea Pesto that will grace the top of each “lamb pop” you serve. It’s a fairly typical pesto, but with equal parts fresh mint and peas as the base rather than basil. This gives the lamb a truly Mediterranean feel, and adds a beautiful pop of bright green color to the plate. It’s also important to note that you’ll likely have some leftover pesto after the lamb is served, so be sure to have some crusty bread on hand for dipping or save it for a last-minute pasta dinner later in the week.

Lollipops of Herb Crusted Rack of Lamb are graced with a hearty dollop of Mint Pea Pesto.

That’s it for the recipe, now let me tell you about this giveaway. If you didn’t catch it in last week’s post, True Aussie Beef & Lamb and Big Green Egg are hosting a “Greater Outdoors” promotion where they are gifting one lucky reader their very own Big Green Egg! Seriously, you don’t want to miss out on this opportunity. The Egg is amazzzzing!! Simply click here to enter before the giveaway ends on August 1.

The Big Green Egg is the perfect outdoor cooking accessory to #ownyourparty. And you can win one for yourself!

We’re still babymooning in Kauai, but heading back tomorrow and then taking a quick trip to Napa before we head home to Santa Barbara, so thank you for your patience and understanding with my slow-down of content I have been posting so I can really enjoy my trip. I look forward to getting back into a regular schedule with you all when we get back! Xx

Lollipops of Herb Crusted Rack of Lamb are graced with a hearty dollop of Mint Pea Pesto.
Print
Herb Crusted Rack of Lamb with Mint Pea Pesto
Prep Time
25 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Total Time
35 mins
 

A beautiful piece of lamb is coated with a fresh rosemary-garlic mixture and topped with a delicious mint pea pesto. 

Course: Main Course
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
For the lamb:
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic (about 5 cloves)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3-5 pounds rack of lamb
For the pesto:
  • 1 cup fresh mint
  • 1 cup fresh cooked peas
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Heat your grill to high heat. If using the Big Green Egg, you’ll want it to read a temperature of 500 degrees Fahrenheit. 

  2. Next, prepare the herb rub for the rack of lamb. Combine garlic, rosemary, salt, pepper and olive oil in a small bowl, then rub onto both sides of the lamb rack. 

  3. Once the grill or Big Green Egg is heated properly, add the lamb and cook for 7-8 minutes each side, or until internal temperature reaches between 120 and 125 degrees Fahrenheit (for medium-rare.) Remove the lamb and let rest in a warm place for about 10 minutes before cutting and serving. 

  4. You can make the Mint Pea Pesto prior to grilling the lamb or while the lamb is resting. Combine all pesto ingredients except the olive oil, salt and pepper in a food processor. Pulse until all ingredients come together to form a rough spread, then slowly stream in the olive oil. Finally, add salt and pepper to taste. 

  5. Once lamb has rested and pesto is prepared, cut the lamb into chops and top each top with a heavy dollop of pesto. Reserve extra pesto for crusty bread or save for a future quick and easy pasta dinner!

Herb Crusted Rack of Lamb with Mint Pea Pesto | CaliGirlCooking.com

Island Style Teriyaki Beef Sliders

We’re getting in a Hawaii state of mind today!

Island Style Teriyaki Beef Sliders are the perfect dish to serve at a summer BBQ.
This post was created in partnership with True Aussie Beef & Lamb and Big Green Egg in exchange for free product. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you for continuing to support the brands that make CaliGirl Cooking possible!

And for ohhhh so many good reasons.

Reason #1: We’re going to Kauai!! The hubs and I take off tomorrow morning for our babymoon/make-up honeymoon and we are soooo excited for a little one-on-one time in the sun just relaxing and enjoying each other’s company. It can’t come soon enough!


Reason #2: If you can’t come to Kauai with us, grilling up some of these Island Style Teriyaki Beef Sliders will be the next best thing. You’ll feel like you’re right there with us as soon as you take your first bite of these juicy, teriyaki-glazed burgers.

Reason #3: I’ve partnered with two amazing companies, True Aussie Beef & Lamb and Big Green Egg, to help you #ownyourparty this summer with some amazing beef and lamb recipes and….wait for it….a Big Green Egg giveaway!!! Pardon the pun, but it’s pretty #aussome and I can’t wait to tell you all about it.

But first, before I get to the giveaway, I feel it’s absolutely necessary to tell you about these mouthwatering Island Style Teriyaki Beef Sliders.

When I got my shipment from True Aussie Beef & Lamb, I saw the grass-fed ground beef and, naturally, I immediately started thinking burgers. Then, my friend with the most amazing Hawaiiana-inspired home (yes, complete with naturally heated pool and waterslide) suggested we have our first pool party of the summer, dubbing it “Aloha Sunday.” I immediately knew I had to turn these burgers into an island-inspired treat, and these Island Style Teriyaki Beef Sliders were born!

The patties for Island Style Teriyaki Beef Sliders are brushed with a delicious sweet and salty teriyaki glaze before serving.

So, what, you may be wondering, makes an “Island Style” beef slider? Well, let me fill you in! Think a normal slider, but with a few fun, tropical twists. The first important distinction between island style and just your average burger is a sweet-salty teriyaki glaze, brushed on to the burgers the moment they come off the grill. Brushing the sauce on while the sliders are still piping hot allows it to caramelize slightly and therefore stick nicely to the patties so you don’t have a huge mess on your hands. Have no fear, there will be extra sauce for adding to your sliders once you build them!

The other fairly consistent (at least in my book) difference between the two styles is the bun. Rather than typical slider buns, I served my Island Style Teriyaki Beef Sliders on Hawaiian sweet rolls. THE best! If you haven’t ever had Hawaiian sweet bread, do yourself a favor and go buy some right this minute. They sell it in almost all big box grocery stores nowadays. I’m a big fan of King’s Hawaiian brand, and while we’re in Hawaii you can bet I’ll be stocking up on my favorite local brand there, Ani’s.

The beauty of serving Island Style Teriyaki Beef Sliders is that you can cook them on your Big Green Egg all in one batch!

Okay, now we get to the somewhat controversial part: the condiments and toppings. Some argue that a “true” teri burger needs nothing more than a swipe of mayo and some lettuce, while others insist on including some fresh pineapple in the mix. There’s also that extra teriyaki sauce I mentioned earlier that to me is a non-negotiable. Of course, you’ll always have your traditionalists who MUST have their ketchup and mustard. I recommend just serving the sliders in a “build-your-own” manner, setting them out with all of the condiments imaginable and letting your guests opt for whichever direction they want to take.

Island Style Teriyaki Beef Sliders will keep everyone happy at your next outdoor BBQ or pool party.

Whichever way you choose to eat your Island Style Teriyaki Beef Sliders, I can tell you that you will NOT be disappointed. I added a secret ingredient or two to the patties just because, but with the quality of #TrueAussieBeef, you honestly don’t even need to. As soon as we tasted the finished product, I commented to my husband that you could really TASTE the fact that the beef was grass-fed. It’s melt-in-your-mouth tender, with a fresh, herbaceous quality that you really don’t taste every day. The ground beef is so flavorful, you could easily leave out any seasoning save for a little salt and pepper, but hey, I’m a food always blogger and like to put a little spin on things 😉

Island Style Teriyaki Beef Slider patties prepped and ready for the grill!

Okay, so that’s the delicious scoop on my Island Style Teriyaki Beef Sliders, now let’s get to the important part, the GIVEAWAY!! As part of my partnership with True Aussie Beef & Lamb and Big Green Egg, I was given both the delicious grass-fed ground beef I mentioned above as well as my very own Big Green Egg. I had read about these Big Green Eggs, and always been fascinated by them, but to be honest, didn’t think we needed to invest in one quite yet since we already own both a gas and charcoal grill. Boy, was I wrong! As soon as our Big Green Egg came into our lives (which we’re still thinking of a name for, any suggestions?) we knew it was going to be a game-changer and become a go-to for all our grilling, cooking and smoking needs.

The Big Green Egg is the perfect outdoor cooking accessory to #ownyourparty. And you can win one for yourself!

This thing is amazing, and I’m happy to tell you anything you want to know about it (comment with any questions below!) but the most important thing I need to let you know is that YOU COULD WIN A BIG GREEN EGG FOR YOURSELF! That’s right, Big Green Egg and True Aussie Beef & Lamb will be sending one lucky winner a Big Green Egg through their “Greater Outdoors” campaign, running now through August 2. Click here to enter and cross your fingers that you’ll get to experience this truly #aussome outdoor cooking tool!

I’ll be taking things a little slower here on the blog for the next week and a half or so in order to really soak up our last vacation as a family of two, but you can certainly count on some more delicious #TrueAussieBeef and #TrueAussieLamb recipes during that time, plus more chances to enter to win your Big Green Egg!

Have a great Wednesday and continue to #beAussome!

Island Style Teriyaki Beef Sliders are the perfect dish to serve at a summer BBQ.
Print
Island Style Teriyaki Beef Sliders
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
8 mins
Total Time
28 mins
 

Summer cookouts just got that much better with these sliders with a twist. A sweet-salty teriyaki glaze & Hawaiian sweet rolls are the ultimate game-changers!

Course: Main Course
Servings: 20 sliders
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
For the teriyaki sauce:
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon peeled and minced ginger
  • 1 tablespoon peeled and minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons pineapple juice
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
For the burgers:
  • 2 pounds ground beef (preferably grass-fed True Aussie Ground Beef)
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
Suggested condiments:
  • Hawaiian sweet roll buns
  • Extra teriyaki sauce
  • Mayonnaise
  • Ketchup
  • Mustard
  • Sliced tomato
  • Sliced onion
  • Sliced pineapple
Instructions
  1. Heat your grill to a medium-high temperature. If using the Big Green Egg, you’ll want the temperature to get to about 500 degrees Fahrenheit.

  2. First, make the teriyaki sauce. Combine all ingredients except cornstarch in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Let come to a low simmer, then whisk in cornstarch until sauce begins to thicken. Turn off heat and let sit at room temperature while you make the burgers. 

  3. In a medium mixing bowl, combine all burger ingredients. In this situation, it’s probably easiest to just get in there and mix everything together with your hands. 

  4. Once burger ingredients are combined, use your hands to form slider-size patties (make a ball about the size of a lacrosse ball, then flatten it slightly and use your thumb to place an indent in the center to allow the meat to expand while cooking.)

  5. Place sliders on the prepared grill and cook for just a few minutes each side. Since the patties are small, they won’t take much time at all to cook. 

  6. Remove burgers from the grill and immediately brush with some of the prepared teriyaki sauce. Reserve the remaining sauce to serve as a condiment. 

  7. Serve burger patties alongside sliced Hawaiian rolls and the rest of the suggested condiments. Let guests build their sliders as they please!

Island Style Teriyaki Beef Sliders | CaliGirlCooking.com

Bacon-Wrapped Portobello Mushrooms with Goat Cheese

The ultimate Dad food.

A large serving platter of Bacon-Wrapped Portobello Mushrooms with Goat Cheese over a bed of mixed greens.

But really, if you’re trying to sneak in any sort of salad/light-ish side dish for your Father’s Day cookout this weekend, these Bacon-Wrapped Portobello Mushrooms with Goat Cheese are the answer. I mean, whose Dad doesn’t like bacon?


And bacon isn’t all you get here. Prepare yourself for an explosion of garlic-laced balsamic flavor, meaty mushrooms and a sprinkling of tangy goat cheese. Serve it all over a bed of greens (I’m partial to something involving arugula) and the dish passes as a salad that the dudes will even be helping themselves to seconds of.

An overhead shot of a single serving of delicious Bacon-Wrapped Portobello Mushrooms with Goat Cheese, served over a bed of greens.

To start, I used the same marinade that I use for my Balsamic-Marinated Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms. I love marinating veggies because they only need 30 minutes MAX before they’re ready to go. No waiting hours (or worse, overnight!) for them to be ready for the grill.

While the mushrooms are marinating, you’ll partially cook the bacon in the oven. Because mushrooms don’t take too long to grill up, we need to give the bacon a little head start. The partially cooked bacon gets wrapped around our sufficiently marinated Portobello’s, then we fire up the grill!

Once we have the mushrooms on the grill, this dish will be ready in a flash. The ‘shrooms will only need about 5-6 minutes on each side to cook (hence, why we precooked the bacon,) then we let them cool slightly, lay them over the bed of greens and sprinkle with that crumbly goat cheese. That’s it! And because there’s so much flavor packed into the Portobello’s, you really don’t even need a separate dressing.

A tray of delicious Portobello mushrooms.

I don’t know about you, but the thought of having some of these Bacon-Wrapped Portobello Mushrooms with Goat Cheese with all of the other delicious food we’ll be eating this weekend has me REAL excited for our trip up to our parents’.

In fact, I’m taking a tip from my gal Lee over at Fit Foodie Finds and hustling to get all my work done by end-of-day Thursday so I can take Friday off and spend it getting ready for our little road trip north later that afternoon. Anyone else here whose self-employed agree that every summer work week should only be four days?? Let’s start a movement! I’m hoping it helps me be more productive during the week if I have more strict guidelines of when I need to get things done by. The extra hours of sunlight don’t hurt either so I can get more photography done during the day!

Okay, but seriously, even if you’re not doing anything special this weekend, or if you want a quick, healthy meal to get you through the rest of this week, I highly recommend you get about making these Bacon-Wrapped Portobello Mushrooms with Goat Cheese.

A large plate of Bacon-Wrapped Portobello Mushrooms with Goat Cheese, ready to be enjoyed on Father's Day!

Here’s to getting through the rest of the work week with delicious food on the horizon!!

A large serving platter of Bacon-Wrapped Portobello Mushrooms with Goat Cheese over a bed of mixed greens.
Print
Bacon-Wrapped Portobello Mushrooms with Goat Cheese
Prep Time
40 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
55 mins
 

Marinated Portobello mushrooms wrapped in bacon and topped with crumbly goat cheese. A hearty, delicious salad that even the guys in your life will love!

Course: Salad, Side Dish
Servings: 6 people
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 6 Portobello mushrooms, cleaned and stems removed, cut into spears
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 12 pieces bacon
  • Goat cheese
  • Mixed greens, to serve (optional)
Instructions
  1. Place the mushrooms in a resealable plastic bag with garlic, olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Make sure the mushrooms are evenly coated with the marinade and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. 

  2. While the mushrooms are marinating, partially cook the bacon. Lay the bacon out on a large jelly roll pan line with aluminum foil. Place the pan in the oven and turn the oven on to 450 degrees Fahrenheit (so you will not be preheating the oven, it will preheat while the bacon is already inside.) Set the timer for 15 minutes.

  3. Remove the bacon from the oven and let cool slightly, then cut each piece in half lengthwise. Remove the mushrooms from the refrigerator and wrap each one with a piece of the partially cooked bacon. 

  4. Heat your gas grill to medium, then put on the bacon-wrapped mushrooms spears. Cook for about 5-6 minutes per side, or until the bacon is sufficiently cooked. Be careful when working the grill as the grease from the bacon may cause flare-ups. 

  5. Place cooked mushrooms spears over a bed of mixed greens and sprinkle with goat cheese, to serve. 

Bacon-Wrapped Portobello Mushrooms with Goat Cheese | CaliGirlCooking.com

Cheesy BBQ Garlic Bread

One week from Memorial Day means this cheesy goodness ↓

A close-up shot of easy, five-ingredient Cheesy BBQ Garlic Bread.

And this cheesy goodness goes by no other name than (somewhat obvious): Cheesy BBQ Garlic Bread! I’ve been wanting to make this perfect cookout accompaniment for quite some time now, and I figured what better time to do so than for the holiday weekend that basically kicks off summer!


And I’m not stopping there. That’s right, this week I’ll be bringing you all kinds of fun BBQ-friendly dishes to get you loaded up with recipes before the hubs and I skip town and head up to Tahoe for a much needed getaway with a few of our close friends. My hubby’s birthday happens to be on Memorial Day this year so we thought, what better way to celebrate than at one of our favorite places with some of our favorite people? We’re keeping it fairly low-key, though, with a spa day penciled in and surely lots of time just relaxing around the house and catching up! I hear there may still even be snow there, which would be pretty cool.

Sorry, just a little digression, because what I’m really here to talk about is this Cheesy BBQ Garlic Bread. I’m very happy to report that it turned out just every bit as good as I had imagined. And it’s so easy! We’re talking about FIVE ingredients and FIVE minutes on a high heat grill (or under the broiler.) That’s it!

Looking down on a delicious loaf of ooey-gooey Cheesy BBQ Garlic Bread.

Of course, if you wanted to be really adventurous, you could whip up your own BBQ from scratch, but if your household is anything like ours, you probably have at least a bottle or two of your favorite premade stuff hanging around your pantry or refrigerator.

I was lucky to have some of the Sweet ‘n Spicy BBQ Sauce from Montana Mex on hand (thanks, Eduardo!) and decided to give it a spin for this recipe. If you haven’t heard of Montana Mex or Chef Eduardo Garcia, it’s about time you did. (Sorry, just another little digression and, no, this is not sponsored! I truly was just incredibly impressed by Eduardo’s story so I wanted to share it here.)

Every year, Chris and I are lucky enough to attend some of the Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s events through his company’s sponsorship connections. When we heard we’d be getting tickets to the opening film this year and what the film was about, I have to admit I was a LOT more excited than I had been for the films being screened in previous years.

Charged is a film about Chef Eduardo Garcia’s survival and inspiring recovery from being charged with 2400 volts of electricity while out hiking in the woods one afternoon. Although not for the faint of heart, the film is full of Eduardo’s unwavering positivity in the face of adversity and perseverance through some very challenging obstacles.

We were lucky enough to get to chat with him after the film, and I was honored when he offered to send me a box of his company’s products. Chef Eduardo founded Montana Mex after he became frustrated with so many of the Mexican food products available here in the United States that were laden with chemicals and preservatives. So he and his business partner set out to make a line of Mexican-inspired condiments without all of the gunky stuff. Which you know is right up my alley!

A close-up shot of gooey and delicious Cheesy BBQ Garlic Bread.

Charged won’t be released to the general public until September (at which time you most definitely need to go see it), but if you come across any film festivals that might be airing it before then, GO! If you like inspiring stories, survival and food, you will not be disappointed.

Eek, ok! Let’s get to this Cheesy BBQ Garlic Bread. Good thing it’s so easy to make because I have been rambling for far too long already and I’m sure we all have more important things to be doing on a Monday morning.

So here’s what we do: We start with a huge loaf of fresh, crusty bread. A pain rustique or ciabatta (something with lots of little air pockets in the dough) would be ideal here. We want lots of nooks and crannies for all of the butter, garlic and BBQ sauce to ooze into.

The beginning stages of making Cheesy BBQ Garlic Bread - slather on butter, BBQ sauce and fresh garlic!

We slice the bread long-ways for maximum surface area, then start slathering on the good stuff – first butter, the BBQ sauce and garlic, then cheese. Because this BBQ garlic bread is CHEESY.

The second step to make Cheesy BBQ Garlic Bread - slather it with cheese!

Throw the loaf halves onto the grill (if you have space to spare) or pop them under the broiler and you’ll have delicious Cheesy BBQ Garlic Bread in as little as five minutes. If that’s not the perfect cookout side dish, I don’t know what is!

Another close-up of this ooey-gooey delicious Cheesy BBQ Garlic Bread!

A close-up shot of easy, five-ingredient Cheesy BBQ Garlic Bread.
Print
Cheesy BBQ Garlic Bread
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
5 mins
Total Time
15 mins
 

Not your average garlic bread! This version is loaded with zesty BBQ sauce and smothered in melted cheese, the perfect BBQ side dish!

Course: Side Dish
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 1 loaf fairly flat, crusty bread (such as ciabatta or pain rustique,) sliced in half lengthwise
  • 4-6 tablespoons melted butter (depending on how large your loaf of bread is, mine was pretty big)
  • 1/2 cup of your favorite BBQ sauce
  • 8 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 2 cups shredded Asiago cheese (or Parmesan, or your favorite cheesy bread cheese!)
Instructions
  1. Place halves of bread cut side up on a large baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. If using the grill, turn it on high and let it begin warming up. If using the broiler, turn it on high to preheat.

  2. Spread melted butter evenly onto loaf halves, then do the same with the BBQ sauce.

  3. Sprinkle on the minced garlic and then cover the loaf halves evenly with the shredded cheese. 

  4. If using the grill, place the bread (topping side up) directly onto the grates. If using the broiler, keep the bread on the baking sheet and place in the oven. Cook for approximately 5 minutes, or until cheese is melted and bubbling and edges of bread are browned. Let cool slightly before slicing and serving.

Cheesy BBQ Garlic Bread | CaliGirlCooking.com

Hazelnut Pesto Caprese Couscous

Let’s all celebrate Labor Day by NOT laboring.

Hazelnut Pesto Caprese Couscous | CaliGirl Cooking (www.caligirlcooking.com)

You heard me right. These days, especially in America, it feels like everyone is running the crazy race of life non-stop. Staying at the office late, continuing to check (and respond to) emails into the wee hours of the night, working on the weekends, not taking vacation days. Who are we? Why can’t we take after, say, the French, where four weeks of vacation a year are the norm and people in the workforce go out for two hour lunches every day?


This hectic white-collar life is partly what spurred me to turn this blog into a business, to branch out on my own and become self-employed. I was tired of being expected to stay at the office for eight hours a day, even if I’d finished all of my work. I was tired of having to work holidays and weekends (hello, hospitality life) and not having a say in when or where I worked. I’ve never been the type to “slack off,” and often found my efficiency at getting things done working to my disadvantage. I was sitting at work, twiddling my thumbs and thinking of all of the other things I could be doing (non-work related) that needed to get done. Being the Type A go-getter that I am, I wanted to be in control of my own destiny. So that’s just what I did.

Hazelnut Pesto Caprese Couscous | CaliGirl Cooking (www.caligirlcooking.com)

Now that I’m working for myself, I’m focusing on not getting sucked into the all-too-easy habit of spending every waking hour working on furthering my business. As an entrepreneur, I’m becoming all too familiar with the feeling that I need to prove myself, that I can’t “slack off” or get out of the house for a day to do something I love because then it wouldn’t look like I was trying hard enough. There’s a lot to live up to when you branch out on your own, and that places a big weight on your shoulders.

But you know what? I’ve realized that is not how I should frame my new self-employed work structure, After all, as my good friend Tara reminded me, this is what we’ve worked so hard to AVOID by becoming our own bosses. We shouldn’t feel guilty about shutting down our computers at 3pm on a Tuesday, or not doing ANY work over the weekend, because that’s what we set out to avoid after all.

So I took my own advice to heart and busted my butt last week to get everything queued up and ready to go for the blog over the weekend, so I could kick back, spend some time with the hubs (whose finally feeling better, thank goodness!) and just plain ENJOY a three-day weekend. I can’t remember the last time I did that! And you know what, it was glorious. And I don’t regret a thing.

Hazelnut Pesto Caprese Couscous | CaliGirl Cooking (www.caligirlcooking.com)

Okay, wow, I guess we should finally talk about the whole reason we’re here today, this Hazelnut Pesto Caprese Couscous! What started that little rant up there was the fact that I wanted to get across to you just how easy this recipe is. You will not have to “labor” at all to make it, unless you count running your food processor or boiling a pot of water as “laboring.”

I’ve mentioned it before when I shared this Herbed Grain Salad with Broccoli Rabe and White Beans, but I am totally digging grain salads these days. I love the plethora of fresh fruits, herbs and vegetables that go into them and the juxtaposition of some hearty, filling whole grains.

I know I’m not the only one experiencing a love affair with end-of-summer produce, and all of the fresh tomatoes and basil have been calling my name. I was dying to figure out more ways to use them! And so this Hazelnut Pesto Caprese Couscous appeared.

Hazelnut Pesto Caprese Couscous | CaliGirl Cooking (www.caligirlcooking.com)

Tell me, how do you feel about couscous? I have to admit, I’m a little picky. I used to not dig the typical light, fluffy couscous too much, but I’ve come around a bit on that one (it all goes along with how deliciously it’s prepared!) Nevertheless, when given the choice, I’ll opt for a heartier version, like bigger, thicker Israeli couscous. This tends to fill me up a bit more, plus it’s a little closer to pasta which we all know goes perfectly with basil and tomatoes.

So, we’ve got our Israeli couscous ready to go and now we need to caprese it up (yes, I just turned that into a verb.) I originally wanted to use fresh burrata for the cheese, but sadly our local store was fresh out of the stuff, so I had to settle for ciliegine (the little balls of mozzarella.) I then picked up a few perfectly ripe heirloom tomatoes and a big bunch of fresh basil from the Farmer’s Market.

I decided that, since we had a heavier grain base for this Hazelnut Pesto Caprese Couscous, it might be best to turn the basil into a pesto as opposed to just tossing it into the salad itself. Boy, was I right? The dressing is the perfect way to balance out all of the flavors in this dish and ensure you get all of the tastiness in every single bite.

Oh, and if you’re wondering why I went with hazelnut instead of the typical pine nut, there are two reasons: (1) Pine nuts are ridiculously expensive (whyyyyyyy?) and (2) I just so happened to have some hazelnuts in the pantry that needed to be used up. Feel free to use whatever nuts you have on hand for this recipe. Walnuts, pecans or almonds would all be fantastic as well.

And did I mention that our Hazelnut Pesto Caprese Couscous is super easy to make? No laboring here. Simply boil up some water to cook the couscous, throw all of the pesto ingredients in a food processor (or blender) and mix all of the ingredients together in a big bowl. Does it get much easier than that?

Hazelnut Pesto Caprese Couscous | CaliGirl Cooking (www.caligirlcooking.com)

Now, I’ve certainly rambled on enough in this post and you most definitely need to get outside and start enjoying this holiday Monday (so do I), so without further ado, here’s the recipe!

Hazelnut Pesto Caprese Couscous

15 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

Yield: Serves 4-6

A fun, healthy take on the classic caprese salad featuring Israeli couscous, peak season heirloom tomatoes and delicious hazelnut pesto.

Ingredients

    For the pesto:
  • 2 cups fresh basil
  • ¼ cup hazelnuts, toasted
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Juice of ½ of a large lemon
  • ¾ cup olive oil
  • Salt & pepper to taste
    All other ingredients:
  • 2 cups cooked Israeli couscous (cook according to package directions)
  • 5 medium heirloom tomatoes, cut into thin wedges
  • 8 ounces ciliegine mozzarella
  • Salt to taste

Instructions

  1. Place all pesto ingredients except olive oil in a food processor or blender. Pulse until mixture begins to come together, then stream in the olive oil while the processor or blender is running. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. In a large bowl, combine couscous, tomatoes and mozzarella. Stir in pesto and season with salt if needed. Enjoy or refrigerate until ready to eat!
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Hazelnut Pesto Caprese Couscous | CaliGirlCooking.com

I’ll take the whole bowl please!!