I have had this special birthday dinner planned for Ben for several weeks, but things have been very busy lately so I had to push it back.  This past week I took Step 2 of my medical boards, so after completing a nine-hour exam this ended up being both a celebratory dinner for me and a belated birthday dinner for Ben.  The whole meal was fantastic but it was a LOT of food, and we were absolutely stuffed.

The menu was as follows:
Appetizer – Roasted Red Pepper Pesto Crostini
Salad – Mixed Greens with Baked Goat Cheese and Balsamic Vinagrette
Main Course – Beef Wellington with Mashed Potatoes
Dessert – Strawberry Creams

This post is the first of four featuring these recipes.  We really enjoyed this appetizer.  It was great to snack on while I finished preparing the rest of the meal.  I have now come to the conclusion that I love red peppers, and pretty much any recipe involving them.  Combining that with my love for pesto made this a great snack!  I will definitely be making this frequently.

Roasted Red Pepper Pesto Crostini


baguette, cut into ¼”-thick slices

extra-virgin olive oil for brushing, plus 1 tsp.

2 cloves garlic, peeled

1 red bell pepper, roasted, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped

1 tbsp. pine nuts

1 ½ tbsp. Parmesan cheese

1 tbsp. finely chopped parsley

1 tbsp. finely chopped basil

½ tsp. fresh lemon juice

pinch of cayenne pepper

salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

goat cheese



Preheat the oven to 350°.  Arrange the baguette slices on a baking sheet.  Brush lightly with olive oil.  Bake until lightly browned and crispy.  Cut one clove of garlic in half and rub the cut side on the baguette slices while still warm.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.  Spread each baguette slice with a thin layer of goat cheese. 


In the bowl of a food processor, combine one clove of garlic, the red pepper, pine nuts, Parmesan, parsley, basil, lemon juice and cayenne pepper.  Pulse until a coarse puree forms.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Spread a spoonful of the red pepper pesto onto each baguette slice.

Source: adapted from Williams Sonoma