It took me a while to figure out what to name this post. I almost went with “Shrimp Bread, etc.” but thought that wouldn’t go over as well. This bread is one of my favorite things to make for dinner for a myriad of reasons, including, but not limited to:
1. It tastes amazing.
2. It’s versatile. I can change ingredients based on what’s in my fridge.
3. You can typically find most things in your fridge, although see point #2.
4. It freezes really well.
5. If you make extra of the pesto or olive tapanade, they can be carried over (or the pesto frozen) for other meals.
5. My husband is allergic to shrimp which means I can load it on and not have to share. He can eat meat and I don’t, so don’t feel too bad for him. I also make him a veg option, below.
Anyway, the first thing you do is get a loaf of french, sourdough, ciabatta, or italian bread. Whatever floats your boat. I tend to go with ciabatta only because it’s flatter. That means you can make TWO pesto breads, and leave one without shrimp because of that whole husband-allergy thing. Go ahead and slice the bread horizontally.
I typically use spinach or kale since it’s cheaper, and I like to make large quantities. You can easily use basil, or half and half, whichever you prefer. I fill it up to the top of my food processor, and then adjust the rest of the ingredients based on that. I would say I used about 2-3 cups of packed spinach.
I also used about 4-5 ounces of a hard white cheese. This can be omitted entirely, but I had some on hand so I included it. I also used walnuts, since again, cheaper. I start by blending the spinach, walnuts, cheese, 1/4 teaspoon each of crushed red pepper flakes, black pepper, and salt (remember, the cheese is salty, so add more if you don’t include cheese), and 1/2 cup olive oil into the food processor. Blend it up and see where you stand.
I leave mine fairly “chunky” because the tapanade also has oil in it, and, while it’s a good thing for it to soak into the bread while it’s baking, you don’t want it doused in oil. Spread the pesto onto the bread. I used up about 90% of the pesto. The rest I saved to mix into scrambled eggs. Yum.
As a side note, when I manage to get a big bundle of pesto from a farmer’s market, I like to make a huge patch of pesto and then freeze it. I have one of those giant silicone ice cube trays which are fun to use for fancy drinks, but also work great for this purpose. I put pesto in them, let them freeze, pop them out and put it into a large freezer bag. Then you can take out one big cube at a time when you need it. End of aside.
Next up, tapanade. I never buy olive tapanade from a store, unless I’m really desperate. That’s because it’s insanely easy and cheap. All you do is go to the olive bar, load up, and throw it into the food processor. Things to remember when making tapanade from the olive bar:
1. Try to get ones in oil, not water. If they’re in water, dry with paper towel first.
2. If they have capers, roasted garlic, marinated garlic, sweet or spicy peppers, and/or artichokes, throw them in. The more the merrier at the tapanade party.
3. Get a mixture of green and kalamata, pitted.
4. You should probably get extra so by the time you eat half you still have some left for the tapanade.
Alternatively, if you’re feeling lazy, or don’t want THAT much olive on your pizza, you can slice up some olives and put them sporadically, or just leave out.
Now, chop up some peeled and de-veined raw shrimp and place all over whichever half of the bread looks better. You can also add chicken onto the other half if you’re into that sort of thing.
After the cheese, I sprinkle on some italian seasoning and drizzle lightly with olive oil.
Next, place into a preheated oven at 375 and let melt until desired doneness. I say “desired” because my husband and I have two very different feelings on this. He likes it barely melted, like the below.
So, when I make things that need to be broiled, I take out his part (or cover with foil), then crank up the broiler and get my part to very dark and bubbly on top. Mmmmm.
Pesto Bread with Shrimp, Olive Tapanade and Smoked Mozzarella
1 loaf of ciabatta bread (or Italian, sourdough, or french)
20 large raw shrimp, peeled and deveined, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces (10 if you’re only doing half with shrimp)
2 1/2 cups smoked mozzarella cheese
1 cup parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon italian seasoning
For the pesto:
2-3 cups packed spinach, kale, or basil
1/3 cup walnuts
1-2 ounces hard white cheese or parmesan
1/4 teaspoon each of crushed red pepper flakes, black pepper, and salt
1/2 cup olive oil
For the tapanade:
1 1/2 cups mixed olives, pitted
optional: 1-2 cloves roasted or marinated garlic, 2-3 artichoke hearts, 1 teaspoon capers
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut bread horizontally to make two breads.
2. Place ingredients for pesto into food processor and pulse until almost smooth. Adjust ingredients to desired taste. Spread onto bread. Save remainder for another meal, or freeze.
3. Place ingredients of olive tapandae into food processor. Spread onto pesto. Save remainder for another meal.
4. Put shrimp, and then cheeses onto bread. Sprinkle with Italian seasoning and drizzle with olive oil, if desired.
5. Place into pre-heated oven and bake until cheese is melted. Turn on the broiler to high and broil until desired done-ness. Slice and enjoy! Save any leftovers in a ziploc bag or tupperware and freeze. Reheat in preheated oven at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes.