Recipe: Pesto Puffs with Cherry Tomatoes

These babies push all the right buttons when you want a tasty savoury bite.

Recipe: Extract from Shared Kitchen by Julie and Ilaria Biuso  Photo: Manja Wachsmuth

They’re quick to make, deliciously moreish and can be devoured in one or two mouthfuls.

Makes: at least 24


350 g (12 oz) roll of puff pastry or 3 puff pastry sheets, thawed
1 cup tightly packed basil leaves
1 large clove garlic, peeled and crushed
1½ tbsp pine nuts
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Few pinches of salt
1 tbsp panko crumbs or 2 tbsp fresh breadcrumbs
¼ cup freshly grated parmesan or grana padano cheese
¾ cup sour cream
12 cherry tomatoes, halved
Small basil leaves to garnish


Cut pastry into 24 small rounds with a 5–5.5-cm (about 2-in) cutter. Slip pastry rounds into a tartlet tray. As a guide, holes should be approximately 4–4.5 cm (1½–1¾-in) diameter and 2 cm (¾-in deep). Prick the bases with a fork. Chill. If you find pastry tends to stick in your tartlet tin, see Recipe Notes (below).

Preheat oven to 190°C (375°F). Put basil and garlic in the bowl of a food processor and whiz until basil is very finely chopped. Add pine nuts, whiz again briefly, then add oil and salt and give a final whiz until mixture is a coarse purée. Transfer to a bowl and stir in crumbs, parmesan and sour cream.

Fill tartlet bases with pesto cream and put a halved cherry tomato in each, placing tomatoes cut side down. Add a small basil leaf to each. Bake for about 15 minutes, until puffed on top and golden on the bottom. Carefully remove from tartlet tray — easily done if the tartlets are lined with baking (parchment) paper as described below — and cool for several minutes (the tomato will be piping hot) before serving.

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If pastry sticks in your tartlet tin, cut small squares of baking (parchment) paper and use to line each hole of the tartlet tin. Make a snip towards the centre of each square of baking paper with scissors, then put a round of pastry on top and mould them into the hole in the tartlet tray.

From the Italian word pestare (to pound) pesto usually refers to the green, rich oily sauce made with basil, garlic, pine nuts, olive oil, parmesan and Romano cheeses. They say the best basil in Italy is a small-leafed variety which grows in Liguria, within reach of the sea air. If you live on the coast, plant basil in full sun, facing the ocean, and see if you can detect a stronger, sweeter fragrance. Other pestos made with walnuts, capers, olives etc, are also popular.

For a greener pesto, blanch the basil leaves before removing from the stems. I know it sounds weird but it works. Have a bowl of iced water at the ready. Plunge basil leaves into a saucepan of gently boiling water, count to 10, scoop leaves out with a strainer and put them straight into the icy water. As soon as the leaves are cool (a matter of seconds), remove from iced water, drain, then lay them on paper towels and gently pat dry before continuing with the recipe.


In Shared Kitchen, Julie and her daughter Ilaria share the kitchen bench and create double the deliciousness, double the fun and double the love in this stunning new book. Based on their award-winning website of the same name, the 160+ recipes in Shared Kitchen inspire everyone to get in the kitchen and get cooking.

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Julie has a legion of loyal fans who have followed her for years, and for very good reason: her recipes work and the food tastes so good. Then there’s the unique conversation that goes on between this mother and daughter duo.

‘We just love talking about food and cooking together,’ says Ilaria. Memories from their travels spark ideas, as does Ilaria’s Italian heritage, complementing Julie’s wealth of knowledge and formal training. The extensive recipe notes that Shared Kitchen fans have come to love, ingredient alternatives for those less common items, and a seven-page glossary further enhance this remarkable book.

Extracted from Shared Kitchen: Real Food From Scratch by Julie and Ilaria Biuso, published by Bateman Books, RRP $39.99. Photography by Manja Wachsmuth. Format: paperback with flaps.

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