This appetizer was created “on-the-go” during my participation in Round Two of the Rachael Ray Great American Cookbook Competition. It’s simple, tasty and secretly hides 10 ounces of spinach in the pesto! If this healthy bite can impress Josh Capon and Lauren Purcell, it can impress any guest in your home! Feel free to use 1 pound of turkey sausage in place of the chicken and Italian sausage. The recipe for the pesto in this dish will leave you with extra to refrigerate and use in another meal…like Pesto and Prosciutto Pizza!

  • 1 10-ounce box frozen chopped spinach, thawed
  • 1 ounce fresh basil
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 pound lean ground chicken
  • 1/2 pound Italian sausage
  • 1 Italian baguette loaf, sliced into 40 rounds
  • 5 to 6 plum tomatoes, sliced into 5 to 6 slices each
  • Balsamic vinegar, for drizzling
To make the pesto, squeeze out as much of the liquid from the thawed spinach as possible. Add it to a food processor along with the basil, lemon juice, garlic, 3/4 cup parmesan cheese, walnuts, salt and pepper. Pulse and run the food processor until the mixture is mostly puréed. Stream in the olive oil and set the food processor to run for about 30 seconds until the ingredients are thoroughly incorporated. Taste and season with additional salt or pepper if desired. 

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the chicken and Italian sausage. Cook sausage mixture in a large skillet over medium heat until fully cooked. Break up the chunks of sausage with a wooden spoon to create small pieces. Drain on a plate lined with a few paper towels. 

Preheat oven to 400°F. Lay out slices of baguette in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Toast in the oven for about 1 minute. Spread about 2 teaspoons of pesto on each toasted crostini. Top pesto layer with about 1 tablespoon of the sausage mixture. Lay a slice of tomato on top and sprinkle with the remaining parmesan cheese. Bake 3-5 minutes or until the parmesan cheese is melted and the crostini is hot. Drizzle crostini with balsamic vinegar and serve!