Recipe: Pesto Puff Pastry Pizza Pockets
Every Tuesday, the unmistakable aroma of freshly baked food fills the hallways of Humber River Hospital’s 5th floor. Patients and staff hover with anticipation, some even poking their heads into the kitchen to ask about what’s in the oven.
The group preparing the food are inpatients in Humber’s Mental Health & Addictions program. They have a passion for cooking, and sharing the food they make with others puts a smile on their faces.
On the menu today are Pesto Puff Pastry Pizza Pockets (recipe below!) – a recipe crafted by Amanda, a Recreation Therapist who has been inspired by years of combing through recipes that she can share with the Mental Health inpatients.
“The basil and tomatoes are from our rooftop garden, which was designed for the Mental Health Program,” says Amanda. “Our patients planted all of our herbs and vegetables at the beginning of the season. It’s so empowering to harvest what they’ve grown and use it to prepare food.”
The patients in this group have a passion or an interest in cooking. Some of them have mental illnesses that have gotten in the way of their love of the kitchen – and Amanda loves helping to introduce independence and restore passion through her work.
“Part of the reward for these patients is to share what they’ve made with the other patients on the unit and with some of the staff,” says Amanda. “Everyone loves their food. We now always make at least 70 servings!”
One of Amanda’s proudest moments was when a patient who was home on a pass recreated one of her recipes from the group. She came back to the unit with food for everyone.
Recreation therapy is about the benefits of having recreation, leisure, hobbies, and interests in your life. In the Mental Health & Addictions Program, the Recreation Therapists organize pet therapy, gym time, board games, knitting, meditation, wellness walks, and more for the patients. When the weather is nice, they do as many activities as they can in the garden.
Pesto Puff Pastry Pizza Pockets
- 2 packages frozen Puff Pastry
- 3 cups shredded Italian mixed cheese
- ¼ cup prepared green pesto (Recipe Below)
- 1 cup fresh cherry tomatoes on the vine cut in half
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
- Open up puff pastry dough on parchment provided. Cut the large square into 9 equal squares.
- Place about 1/2 to 3/4 tablespoon of homemade pesto and cheese into the center of the square
- Place some tomato slices on top
- Fold over into a triangle and press edges to seal (OR do your own design as long as they are sealed and poked holes for venting!)
- Press fork around the sealed edges to ensure a seal
- Take a sharp knife or fork and poke 2 vents in the top of each triangle
- Bake at 400 degrees for 14-17 minutes.
- When turnovers are golden brown and puffed, remove from the oven
- 3 cups fresh basil leaves
- 2-3 cloves garlic
- About 1/4 cup quality Parmesan cheese, grated
- Splash of fresh lemon juice
- About 1/2 cup olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- In a food processor or blender, chop up the garlic until it is minced.
- Add in the basil and cheese and start to blend. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil while the machine is running. Blend until smooth.
- Squeeze in a little lemon juice and add salt and pepper to taste.
- Taste the sauce and adjust to your likings.
- Put in a freezer container and freeze if you wish or use it right away.