Caprese Pesto Potato Skins

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 Caprese Pesto Potato Skins are a delicious and fun take on the classic Caprese combo of tomato, mozzarella, and basil!

 Pesto Caprese Potato Skins | iowagirleats.com

As my friend and I were walking out of the airport after our weekend in Vegas she inhaled deeply and said, “Ahhh, it smells like Iowa!” I followed suit, and heartily agreed, “HOME!”

After a few days of walking through smoky casinos (seriously I forget how toxic that smell is!) there was nothing more pleasant than the smell of fresh, clean, Midwestern air. I’m sure you folks in the mountains think your air is the best – same for you living near the beach. Nobody nails it quite like home, eh?

Smell has been the name of the game all week. The flowering trees around town are in full bloom – their sweet scent hits you before you see ‘em – and I even passed by a row of pale-purple lilacs, my faaaaavorite fragrant spring flower, on a walk yesterday. This particular yard that I walked past was so full of lilac bushes that I was tempted to saw one off with the keys in my pocket and take it home with me. Then I remembered the cops.

Anyway, all these aromatic spring trees and flowers mean one important thing – summer’s on it’s way! And if summer is on it’s way, that means Caprese season is also nearly here. If there’s one thing I could eat every single day in the summertime and never get sick of, it’s Caprese Salads. Fat slices of fresh mozzarella cheese layered with even thicker slices of beefsteak tomatoes and fresh basil leaves, drizzled with a syrupy balsamic reduction are the stuff summertime dreams are made of.

I’m channeling my favorite salad and giving it a fun and satisfying twist in Caprese Pesto Potato Skins!

Pesto Caprese Potato Skins | iowagirleats.com

Crisp, roasted red potato skins are slathered with basil-packed pesto then filled to the brim with fresh mozzarella pearls, grape tomatoes, and chopped basil before being drizzled with balsamic glaze.

Talk about smell! Merely opening a package of fresh basil is enough to send me into a summertime tizzy. Is there anything more reminiscent of those hot and steamy months than the scent of basil?

By the way, I am one of those insane people that hates the AC. There’s nothing worse than being cold indoors. It’s unnatural. Unless of course I’m blow-drying my hair or putting on makeup. Then it needs to be highly frigid in my bathroom. Other than that? Dislike! Bring on the steam!

Anyway, these potato skins? Totally fresh and poppable, and a fun way to satisfy your Caprese cravings. Make a tray for dinner or an appetizer but be warned – once you pop, it’s hard to stop!

Pesto Caprese Potato Skins | iowagirleats.com

Start by roasting 12 small red potatoes that are all roughly the same size – about 3-1/2lbs worth. This will get you 24 potato skins, which should feed 4-6 people depending on if you’re eating them for dinner or an appetizer. Pierce the potatoes a few times with a fork then rub the outsides with a small amount of extra virgin olive oil. Place them onto 2 foil-lined baking sheets then pop into the oven for 45 minutes to an hour, or until a skewer poked into the side of the potato slides in easily.

Set the potatoes aside until they’re cool enough to handle then slice in half and scoop out the flesh, leaving 1/4″ around the outsides to the skin doesn’t collapse. Potato skins = prepped!

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Meanwhile bring 1 cup balsamic vinegar to a boil then reduce the heat and let simmer until the vinegar has thickened and coats a spoon, about 20 minutes, then set it aside to cool. The vinegar will thicken as it cools so don’t let it reduce down too much.

Note: Trader Joe’s sells pre-made balsamic drizzle, and I know I’ve seen a few other brands at Whole Foods, and while decadently delicious it does contain sulfites. Just FYI in case you are sensitive/concerned about that!

Next, turn your attention back to the spuds. After scooping the potato out of the skins, mist or brush the cut side with extra virgin olive oil then season generously with salt and pepper. Then, fill ‘er up with a heaping 1/2 teaspoon pesto.

I like making homemade pesto in the summer when my herb garden is overflowing (here’s my recipe) but in the off season I see no harm in buying pre-made. Especially when the ingredient list includes all the items I’d add anyway.

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Turn the oven up to 450 degrees then bake the pesto-filled skins for 7-10 minutes, or until the potatoes are golden brown. I like baking the skins with just the pesto in them as it really intensifies the flavor. YUM!

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Next fill the skins up with the rest of the Caprese-inspired ingredients – 1 pint sliced grape or cherry tomatoes (I can’t wait to plant a few sweet 100 cherry tomato plants this year!) and 8oz mozzarella pearls. 

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Mozzarella pearls are exactly what they sound like – tiny balls of fresh mozzarella that look like pearls. Love ‘em. They’re too so easy to pop! If you can’t find mozzarella pearls just buy an 8oz ball of fresh mozzarella and chop it up.

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Next, pop the potato skins under the broiler until the cheese has melted, being careful not to burn the skins.

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After they come out of the oven, gooey and warm, drizzle the tops with the reduced balsamic vinegar and a sprinkle of freshly chopped basil, which really drives the mouthwatering Caprese flavors home.

Pesto Caprese Potato Skins | iowagirleats.com

Caprese Pesto Potato Skins

Print this recipe!

Makes 24 potato skins

Ingredients: 
12 small red potatoes about the same size (about 3-1/2lbs,) scrubbed and dried
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
1 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup prepared pesto
8oz mozzarella pearls (or an 8oz ball fresh mozzarella, chopped)
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half
10-12 fresh basil leaves, chopped

Directions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Pierce potatoes two or three times with a fork then rub with a small amount of extra virgin olive oil and place onto 2 foil-lined baking sheets. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour or until a knife or skewer inserts easily into the center, then set aside until cool enough to handle. Alternatively, cook pierced potatoes in the microwave for 6-10 minutes (depending on size) flipping halfway through.
  2. Meanwhile, pour balsamic vinegar into a small saucepan then bring to a boil. Turn heat down to medium then simmer and reduce until vinegar is thick enough to coat a spoon, about 20 minutes. Set aside to cool – vinegar will continue to thicken while cooling.
  3. After potatoes are cool enough to handle increase oven temperature to 450 degrees then slice potatoes in half lengthwise and scoop out flesh leaving 1/4″ along the insides. Save flesh for another use. Mist or brush flesh side with extra virgin olive oil then season generously with salt and pepper. Scoop a heaping 1/2 teaspoon pesto into each potato skin then spread slightly with the back of the spoon. Bake for 5-7 minutes or until potatoes are golden brown.
  4. Fill each potato skin with a couple mozzarella pearls and halved tomatoes then broil until cheese is melted – watch carefully so potato skins don’t burn.  Sprinkle with chopped basil then drizzle with balsamic glaze and serve.

 

In case you’re Caprese-crazy too, here’s a few of my favorite Caprese-inspired recipes >> to enjoy all spring and summer long. Enjoy!

Pesto Caprese Potato Skins | iowagirleats.com

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Comments

  1. That looks so delicious and not very hard to make either! Great summer recipe!

  2. Scrumptious recipe.

    Making your own pesto is fun and when I try to be an overachiever, I freeze any leftover from summer.

    Agreed on the AC! The workplace can be the worst, here I’ll be on an 80 degree July day wearing a sweater with my space heater cranked!

    And believe me, where I live, when the temp hits 40, people start wearing shorts and tee-shirts!

    It’s all perspective I guess =)

  3. Chicago Jogger 05.09.2014

    What a great idea! I need these in my life asap. Delicious. Have a great weekend!

  4. erin 05.09.2014

    i am absolutely the same. I hate when the air conditioning is blowing on full blast. If it’s super hot/humid out, and i’m in my car, i like the mix of air conditioning and windows open. crazy i know!

  5. Kidd 05.09.2014

    WAIT! not more than 2 wks ago I heard you and your brothers complaining about when you were growing up your Mom and Dad always had the house soooo hot! Never turned the air on. Was I hearing things?? TOO Funny

    • Kristin 05.09.2014

      That’s Justin – he’s scarred for life and keeps his house at like 60 degrees in the summertime!!

  6. Jackie 05.09.2014

    This looks like an amazing appetizer!

  7. Sarah 05.09.2014

    These look amazing! Definitely going to give them a try next time we have people over for dinner.

    I can’t relate on the AC, here in Houston the name of the game becomes how fast can one run from AC house to AC car to AC (insert location here). The only acceptable time it is okay to be out of the AC is when you are swimming or looking to drop 5 pounds in sweat. However, between you and me, I secretly enjoy the first few weeks of 100+ degree temps, then I turn grumpy.

  8. Wow… these look amazing!!! Gotta love a good veg-friendly appetizer or entree recipe too :)

  9. these look absolutely amazing!

  10. There’s nothing worse then walking through a cloud of cigarette smoke! Blech.

    These are too cute and perfect for summer. They would go perfectly with some fresh air, a chair on the porch and cold glass of wine!

  11. Matt Robinson 05.09.2014

    The most amazing potato skins I have ever seen. Every bite would be pure heaven. Can’t wait to try soon, thanks!

  12. Tanah 05.09.2014

    I freeze all day at work and can’t wait to get in my hot car just to warm up! This recipe looks amazing!

  13. Yum! I love caprese and basil! What a great combo! This looks delicious!

  14. Tater skins and caprese salad! Oh, my, I think I just went to heaven! Two of my fav’s. Great combo that I will have to try!!!

  15. Mountain Girl 05.09.2014

    These look great! I found you because I heard you went gluten free after having a baby? I am also going gluten free, and I love your GF board on Pinterest! Just had to check you out :) Going to make these real soon; yum!

  16. CakePants 05.09.2014

    These look dangerously delicious!! I’d definitely have to make them as part of dinner, because if I had them as appetizers, I’d be stuffed by the time the main course comes around. This is a great twist on the usual potato skins I’ve seen in restaurants (the ones laden with cheddar, bacon, and sour cream)…can’t wait to try them!

  17. Kaysha Comfort 05.09.2014

    I’m totally obsessed with Caprese salad! OBSESSED! I want to try this on a portobello mushroom instead of a potato skin…mostly because I’m not a huge potato fan. You have inspired me! Yay!

    Thank you for sharing!

    xo,
    That Comfort Girl

  18. I agree! Hate the smell of smoke. I live in a “nonsmoking building” in Chicago, but the neighbors have been chain smoking in their condo. It’s driving me crazy but they won’t stop!

  19. Pat 05.09.2014

    I’m with you on the ac. When I lived in the south I had to use it, but now that I’m in the northeast I haven’t found it to be hot enough to use it. The recipe sounds great. I’ll change the pesto to pistou because my son can’t eat nuts. Other than that, my fork is waiting for me.

  20. Jennifer C 05.09.2014

    Picked up some mozz and pesto while I was out. Dinner tomorrow! :)

  21. Yummo! These look so good.. Pinned :) Have a great Mother’s Day!!

  22. Tieghan 05.09.2014

    These are amazing!! Gimme! :)

  23. Debtgirl 05.09.2014

    I know what you mean but the higher end hotels have top notch air filters as well as rules where you can smoke. It’s so much better than it ever was in Vegas!!!

    Those look amazeBalls!

  24. […] Iowa Girl Eats proposed that fresh basil has the smell most reminiscent of of summer, and I have to agree it’s […]

  25. Megan 05.10.2014

    Speaking of, I tried an awesome caprese grilled cheese at the Des Moines farmers market today – you must give it a try next Saturday!

  26. Anne [A Squared] 05.11.2014

    Brilliant recipe!

  27. Lauren 05.11.2014

    Happy 1st Mother’s Day to you! :)

  28. Nicole 05.11.2014

    Made these tonight and they were AMAZING!

  29. Nancy 05.11.2014

    These look like the perfect appetizer I need for a party next weekend. Can’t wait to try them!

  30. Kara K 05.12.2014

    Um… I was totally scoping out places where I could saw off lilacs from people’s yards too. I figure if they’re drooping onto public sidewalks, they’re fair game. Sadly, my law-abiding husband disagrees. But it’s nice to see that I’m not the only one with this same thought process!

  31. These look beyond amazing! Thanks for sharing.

    I miss the smell of fresh lilacs. We don’t have those here in Australia.

  32. […] Spuds—These potato skins have an Italian twist, thanks to Kristin Porter of Iowa Girl Eats, and we couldn’t be more excited to make these all summer […]

  33. Susan 05.19.2014

    Made these skins for company last night and four out of four agreed that we thought these were terrible. Didn’t even finish them. First time ever I have been disappointed in a recipe here. So sad :(
    Will not be making these again.

    • Kristin 05.19.2014

      I’m sorry you had a negative experience with this recipe, Susan! I made them twice and really, really enjoyed each batch!

  34. Tabea 06.20.2014

    This seriously is my new favourite recipe. I made it three times in the last four days.. I changed it one time and used red pesto (with dired tomatoes) instead of the green one and it was amazing, too.
    Thank you so much for this! Lots of love from Germany!
    xx

  35. […] up were these DELICIOUS caprese pesto potato skins! We used the recipe from Iowa Girl Eats. These took awhile to put together but we both agreed they were well worth it! Definitely making […]

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