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Basil Pesto Torte


A beautiful plate of Basil Pesto Torte topped with pine nuts and sun-dried tomatoes.

Basil Pesto Torte

A festive showstopper appetizer for your next party! This delicious recipe is from the cookbook Culinary Herbs: Grow, Preserve, Cook! - written by my colleague Yvonne Tremblay and published by Whitecap 2021.
5 from 1 vote
Course Appetizer


Basil Pesto

  • 2 cups packed basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup Italian parsley leaves (or 1/2 cup curly parsley) (optional)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (use Parmigiano-Reggiano)
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup olive oil


  • 1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
  • 8 ounces chèvre (goat cheese) softened
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup Basil Pesto (see instructions below)
  • 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup diced, oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes (drain and blot on paper towel)
  • basil sprig for garnish


Basil Pesto

  • In a food processor, combine basil, parsley (if using), garlic and pine nuts; pulse until finely minced.
  • Add cheese and process to blend.
  • Using the feed tube, slowly drizzle in oil, processing to a moist paste.
  • Remove to a small air tight container. (Optional: Cover surface with a thin film of oil to prevent browning.) Makes about 1 1/2 cups.


  • In a clean food processor or medium bowl, mix together cream cheese, chèvre and butter until well blended.
  • In a 7-inch springform pan, begin with a layer of half the cheese mixture (just over 1 1/4 cups). Refrigerate for about 20 minutes to firm it up. Spread with pesto. Add dollops of remaining cheese. Carefully spread to cover pesto but not disturb it. Cover and refrigerate to firm it up.
  • Arrange pine nuts on top in a spoked wheel pattern; fill in between spokes with sun-dried tomatoes. Garnish centre with fresh basil sprig. Remove sides of pan and serve with assorted crackers. (Allow to warm at room temperature a bit before serving so that it's spreadable.)
Keyword appetizer recipe, basil, basil pesto torte, pesto

Fresh Shrimp Spring Rolls

Shrimp Rice Rolls

A refreshing light meal or cool summertime appetizer when it’s just too hot to cook! Bonus – you can use fresh mint and basil straight from your garden!

2 ounces rice vermicelli noodles
8 rice wrappers (about 8.5 inches in diameter)
12 cooked, large shrimp – peeled, deveined, and cut in half lengthwise
Fresh basil leaves
Fresh mint leaves
1-2 carrots, julienned about 2 inches long
1/2 cucumber, julienned about 2 inches long

Shrimp Rice Rolls ingreds

1. Boil water in a kettle. Pour boiling water into a large bowl. Soak rice vermicelli in hot boiling water for about 5 minutes or until noodles are soft. (Or boil rice vermicelli in water for 5 minutes.) Drain.
2. Fill another large bowl with warm water. Carefully dip one rice wrapper into the warm water for 8-10 seconds so that the rice wrapper softens.
3. Place rice wrapper flat on a cutting board. Place 3 shrimp halves in the middle of the rice wrapper. On top of the shrimp, layer on 3 basil leaves, 3 mint leaves, about 1 Tbsp of rice vermicelli noodles, 2 carrot sticks, 2 cucumber sticks. Leave about 2 inches uncovered on each side of the rice wrapper.
4. Fold the short uncovered sides in towards the centre. Tightly roll up the rice wrapper.
5. Repeat with the remaining ingredients. As you are rolling up the remaining rice wrappers, cover the already made spring rolls with a damp towel to prevent the rice wrappers from hardening.
6. Serve with a sweet chili or peanut dipping sauce.
Makes 8 spring rolls.

Lemon Garlic Pasta

Lemon pasta crop.JPG

My kids love the taste of fresh lemons, so we created this pasta dish together.
It’s super easy, and best of all, I always have the ingredients on hand. Use this recipe as a guide and feel free to adjust to your own taste – add more garlic if you’re a garlic fan, add more lemon if you like it more lemony.

To make this a meal, top the pasta with your favourite protein and a big handful of vegetables. I like adding pan-seared shrimp with peas or grilled chicken with diced cherry tomatoes!

4 cups cooked, hot, drained linguine or spaghetti pasta
2 T olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
zest of 1 lemon
1-2 T fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

1. In a pan, heat olive oil on medium heat. Sauté the garlic over medium heat for about about 45 seconds or until you can smell its wonderful aroma!
Be careful not to burn the garlic.
2. Add the cooked pasta to the pan and toss to coat. Remove from heat.
3. Sprinkle in the lemon zest and 1 T lemon juice. Toss.
4. Add salt and pepper to taste.
5. Taste test and add another 1 T of lemon juice if needed.
Optional: Add fresh basil leaves.

Recipe – Prosciutto-wrapped Mango Bites

Prosciutto wrapped mango bitesI found this fantastic appetizer recipe at Just 5 ingredients and takes 10 minutes to make. The taste is out of this world! Definitely a keeper!

1 ripe mango, peeled
1 ½ cups loosely packed arugula
1 package fresh basil
4 very thin slices of prosciutto or ham
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper

1. Cut mango into 1/4- to 1/2-inch slices (about 16 slices in total). Place 1 mango slice on top of 3 arugula leaves and 1 to 2 basil leaves.
2. Cut each prosciutto slice lengthwise into 4 strips. Wrap center of each mango bundle with 1 prosciutto strip. Arrange on a serving platter, and sprinkle with pepper.

To make ahead, prepare recipe as directed. Cover with damp cloth and chill 30 minutes.

Options: You can substitute slices of honeydew, cantaloupe, apple or pear for the mango. If using apple or pear slices, dip them in lemon or lime juice first to prevent them from browning.

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