When it comes to cooking up a buffet, one can’t always escape from making finger foods. The easy-to-grab delicacies often take the form of finely garnished toasts, tortilla chips with dipping sauce, tea sandwiches and so on. For this Christmas, I thought I would go a bit original and make a fun themed finger food with puff pastry for once, to bring some more Holiday joy to my Christmas Eve’s Dinner Table. So I have made a Christmas Tree shaped Puff Pastry brushed with homemade Pesto and a Feta Cheese Dip Sauce. This idea of making a Christmas tree is not mine, actually if you are used to browsing for ideas on Pinterest, you’ll find this tree everywhere this year, as if the whole world had decided to throw a puff pastry Christmas tree challenge lately. The filling though is my own creation: my Pesto recipe is inspired by the traditional Italian Pesto Genovese, but is totally re-adapted in regards to the ingredients that are usually available in my pantry, and as well in regards to my willingness of limiting as much as possible the fat in everything I cook.
This dish is totally vegetarian-friendly and so easy to prepare! Really anyone is able to make it, just follow my step-by-step recipe with pictures! I think it is a fun appetizer to put on a table when you have guests over, because it gets people together around it, and everybody shares a piece by pulling the tree branches off its base and dips them in a nice herbs and feta cheese sauce.
To make the Pesto, either use an electric mixer or a mortar and a pestle. What you use doesn’t really matter, the important thing is the quality and the freshness of the ingredients, especially the olive oil and aromatic herbs. I couldn’t find any leaf of fresh basil during this season of the year, so I had to come up with a back up plan and use dehydrated basil leaves flakes instead. I’ve also used fresh parsley, which is usually not used in a real Pesto alla Genovese, but I just couldn’t make a pesto without any fresh aromatic herb at all.
Once the pesto is ready, spread it evenly on a layer of round or oval shaped puff pastry directly on a baking sheet on your oven tray, then cover it up with another puff pastry. Slightly press with your fingertips. Now, what you need to do is to cut the oval pastry into a tree shape. First of all, in the length of the oval, draw two parallel lines with the tip of your knife, so that you define the width of what will be the tree trunk in the center. You can see how to do so by clicking on both pictures right above this text; then look closer. Closer. Closer. Right on. See? Two lines are going from the left to the right. Now, with your knife, you’re going to cut a triangle (the tree shape) and not forget to leave a piece of pastry attached for your tree trunk bottom. Once you’re done with this step, you’re going to cut the tree branches, starting from both parallel lines in the center of your triangle, to the outside of the triangle, but without cutting through the center of the tree (the trunk remains as a whole). And finally, using your fingers, twist each branch, taking care that both pastries extremities keep together more or less. The twisting will make appear your pesto stuffing on the edges, this is perfectly normal. In the end, brush your tree with eggwash (only the yellow part of the egg), and bake in the oven for about 25mn. Let cool down a short while before eating. I’m sorry that I didn’t take a picture of my feta cheese dip sauce, but i’ll give the recipe still! And now, dip, dip, dip!! Mmmm it’s so yummy, crunchy and soft at the same time!!! Happy Holiday, everyone!
- For the dip sauce: 200g of Feta cheese
- 1 plain yogurt (about 125g)
- If you like the dip sauce more fluid, add a bit of milk, slowly until you reach the right consistency to your own taste
- salt and pepper
- chopped chives and basil to taste
- For the Tree: 2 puff pastries
- a handful of parsley leaves, chopped
- 2 tbsp of basil leaves flakes or a handful of chopped fresh basil leaves
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 tbsp of fine quality olive oil
- 2 to 3 tbsp of pine nuts, crushed
- 1 egg
- Prepare the dip sauce by combining all of the ingrédients of the above list. Let sit in the fridge until you serve
- Preheat the oven at 180° Celsius
- Prepare the pesto: in a bowl, crush the leaves with the olive oil, the garlic and the pine nuts, salt and pepper. For a real Pesto Genovese, you can add grated parmesan and grana padano, and remove the parsley from the list.
- On your oven tray, unroll a puff pastry with its baking sheet
- Spread your pesto over the puff pastry.
- Cover with another pusff pastry
- Cut the tree as indicated above the pictures
- Twist the Christmas Tree branches as shown
- Brush the tree with the eggwash
- Bake for about 25 minutes at 180° C and serve when cooled down to room temperature with the feta cheese dip sauce.
Before you go, don’t forget to check out my Cookbook’s page, there may be a Discount Offer still available at the time you read this post!
Created and Written by Sophie Rebibo-Halimi, © 2015 All Rights Reserved.