Recipe: Pesto Cream Cheese Bake and Other Appetizers

Pesto Cream Cheese Bake from 100 Days of Real Food

This is the “pot luck event” time of year so let’s talk appetizers. Below you’ll find a recipe for a super easy and insanely popular “Pesto Cream Cheese Bake” as well as some general appetizer ideas that would be the perfect real food addition to any party (holiday or not!). If you have any suggestions that I left off the list please share them in the comments at the bottom.

“Real Food” Appetizer Ideas:

  • Sliced fruit like figs, apples, pears, grapes, melon, berries, small orange segments, or place a few together on fruit kabobs with a yogurt/honey dip
  • Olives
  • Cheese cubes
  • A spread for crackers like hummus, plain or flavored goat cheese, or pesto
  • Whole grain crackers like Ak-Mak, Multiseed Original, or Triscuits
  • Miniature caprese salad on long toothpicks (cherry tomato, small piece of mozzarella, and basil leaf
  • Homemade whole-grain “easy cheesy crackers
  • Vegetable crudite (cut veggies with ranch dip or tzatziki sauce)
  • Lightly salted nuts (cashews, almonds, pistachios, pecans, walnuts, peanuts, etc.)
  • Glazed nuts
  • Proscuitto wrapped mozzarella dipped in balsamic vinegar
  • Proscuitto wrapped cantaloupe balls
  • Mini “tea sandwiches” with cucumber/dill/cream cheese or pimento cheese in the middle
  • Small slices of homemade whole-grain pumpkin, banana nut, zucchini or cornbread
  • Whole-wheat popovers

Pesto Cream Cheese Bake – Holiday Style

Pesto Cream Cheese Bake
Serves: 8
  • 1 loosely packed cup of fresh basil leaves removed from stem
  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts
  • ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 whole clove of fresh garlic
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 rectangular shaped block of cream cheese (the low fat version is not recommended)
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Combine the first 5 ingredients down to the olive oil in a food processor or mini chopper and blend together to make the pesto.
  3. Put the cream cheese block on a baking tray. You can put parchment paper under the cream cheese to make the transition to the serving tray later a little easier.
  4. Spread a thick layer of the pesto on top of the cream cheese block.
  5. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until it is a little brown and bubbly on top.
    Serve with whole grain crackers or toast points.

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  • Comments

    1. Melissa |

      I have a recipe for a very similar dip, but no-bake, so very easily made ahead – just spread softened cream cheese out in a thinner layer on a pretty glass serving plate (since it’s unbaked I like it spread in a thinner layer, easier to get a nice balance of cream cheese and pesto in each bite) , spread thin layer of pesto all over, and sprinkle with chopped sundried tomatoes and olives, green onions if you like, and serve w/crackers – really looks festive with the red tomatoes and all the green and EVERYONE I have ever made it for LOVES it.

    2. Kelly Haefs |

      What a great idea. What did you use for the star on top?

      • Amy Taylor (comment moderator) |

        Hello Kelly. It looks like a yellow pepper to me. :)

    3. Jeannie Turpin |

      Can you leave out the pinenuts?

      • Amy Taylor (comment moderator) |

        Hi. I would replace them with another nut. I’ve made walnut pesto. It works well.

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