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Grape Leaf-Wrapped Camembert with Pesto

Grape Leaf-Wrapped Camembert with Pesto
Wrapped in grape leaves, the Camembert bakes on the grill into a rich, pesto-scented fondue. Look for grape leaves bottled in brine in Greek delicatessens, specialty-food shops and well-stocked food stores. For a rustic, eye-pleasing presentation, open up the leaf packet but leave it in place on the plate beneath the cheese. Offer crusty country bread for dipping.

Ingredients:

  • 10 large, brined grape leaves, rinsed and
      patted dry
  • 1 small round Camembert cheese, well chilled
  • 2 Tbs. basil pesto, homemade (see related
      recipe at right) or purchased
  • Coarse country bread slices, preferably walnut
      or black olive bread, for serving
  • Extra-virgin olive oil for brushing (optional)

Directions:

Prepare a charcoal or gas grill for direct grilling over medium-high heat. Oil the grill rack.

Lay 4 grape leaves, vein sides up, on a baking sheet, their tips positioned at 12, 3, 6 and 9 on a clock face and their stems just touching. Center a fifth leaf where the stems touch. Place the Camembert round on the center of the fifth leaf. Spread the pesto evenly over the top of the cheese. Fold the tips of the other 4 leaves up over the cheese. Center a leaf on the cheese and tuck its ends under. Arrange the remaining 4 leaves, vein sides down, atop the cheese, again in the clock positions and with their stems touching in the center. Tuck the tips of these leaves under the cheese. The leaves should enclose the cheese tightly, with none of its rind exposed.

Place the cheese on the grill rack over the hottest part of a charcoal fire or directly over the heat elements of a gas grill. Cover the grill and cook, turning the cheese once with a spatula, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Monitor the packet carefully; the leaves should lightly char, and no more than a drizzle or so of cheese should appear between them. Do not overcook.

Carefully transfer the cheese, pesto side up, to a serving platter. Let rest for3 to 4 minutes, then unwrap the leaves. The cheese should be warmly liquid inside its rind. Serve accompanied with the bread, brushed with oil and grilled, if desired. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma, Essentials of Grilling, by Denis Kelly, Melanie Barnard, Barbara Grunes & Michael McLaughlin (Oxmoor House, 2003).