Whether for casual or formal entertaining, these Pistachio Lemon Cheese Balls are guaranteed to liven up the occasion! Bursting with fresh and vibrant flavors and popping with color, they’re as fun to eat as they are beautiful to look at!
Pistachio Lemon Cheese Balls
In today’s dish we’re celebrating some of the flavors of California. These tasty cheese balls are not only delicious but they’re fun to make and even more fun to eat.
With layer upon layer of flavor and color, each bite into the cheese ball reveals the vibrant red center of the red bell pepper encased by the green olive enveloped in yellow and green-flecked white goat cheese and rolled in another layer of green pistachio nuts.
Perfect for any occasion, whether as hors d’oeuvres at a dinner party, an appetizer at a special gathering, cocktail party food or for a casual game night, these Pistachio Lemon Cheese Balls with Basil & Olives are sure to be a hit!
Let’s take a closer look at the ingredients in these cheese balls that have become synonymous with Californian cuisine.
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The Greeks brought the olive to Spain and from Seville the first olive seedlings were brought by ship to Peru and Argentina in the 1550’s. From there they made their way up the Pacific coast to Mexico and Spanish missionaries brought them to California for the first time in 1769 to a mission in San Diego. Olive orchards were then planted in several Spanish missions across California and the rest is history.
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We’re using Manzanilla olives that are stuffed with real bell pepper (not the formed and shaped jello stuff that’s often passed off as peppers or pimientos). The pimiento-stuffed olives are the perfect choice for these cheese balls because of the beautiful combination of red and green when you bite into them.
These cheese balls are a great time saver because they can be made well in advance and then simply pulled out of the fridge for a few minutes before serving to slightly soften up the cheese.
For more delicious hors d’ oeuvres and appetizers ideas be sure to try our:
- Black Olive Tapenade
- French Pork Rillettes
- Spanish Deviled Eggs
- Havarti Dill Corn Cakes
- How to Create a Cheese and Charcuterie Board
Pistachio Lemon Cheese Balls
- 6 oz cream cheese ,at room temperature
- 4 oz goat cheese ,at room temperature
- ¼ cup chopped fresh basil leaves
- 1 1/2 teaspoons very finely minced garlic
- 2 teaspoons fresh Meyer lemon zest
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 22 pimiento stuffed green olives (I'm using Manzanilla) ,rinsed and patted dry
- 1/2 cup chopped toasted pistachios
- In a medium bowl, combine all of the ingredients except for the olives and pistachios. Chill the mixture for 30 minutes until firm.
- Form the mixture into 22 balls. Press the olives into the center of the cheese balls and form them back into balls, completely encasing them in the cheese mixture. Roll the balls in the toasted pistachios to lightly coat them. Chill for at least 2 hours.
- Let the cheese balls sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes before serving. Serve with toothpicks
- Makes 22 olive cheese balls
Originally published on The Daring Gourmet September 20, 2016
Mary Jones says
I’m excited to offer these to our little dinner group. This month we have the “appetizer and cocktail” aspect of our dinner. Any recommendation for a beverage? Wines and beers are also acceptable.
Kimberly Killebrew says
That sounds like so much fun, Mary! I’m not a wine or beer drinker so I can’t offer advice from experience, but it’s my understanding that when lemon or citrus features prominently in food it’s good to balance the acid out by choosing a high acid wine. Good options include Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Chablis and Riesling.
I hope your dinner is a success!
Chef Mimi says
Ohhhhh these are fun! And pretty.
Carron Ingham says
This recipe sounds so yummy. One problem, I’m not fond of goat cheese! Can you suggest a substitute cheese? This would be a perfect little appetizer for Christmas – the colours are festive!
Kimberly @ The Daring Gourmet says
Hi Carron, absolutely, you can simply use all cream cheese. I have to say though, I’m not generally a huge fan of goat cheese either but in this particular flavor combination it does wonders. And that “barn stall” flavor that many associate with goat cheese is mitigated by the other flavors :) I agree, with the green, red and white these make perfect appetizers for Christmas!
carrie @ frugal foodie mama says
Wow! These look amazing! Love that olive tucked right in the middle. :)
Joanie @ ZagLeft says
I love California, from LA to San Diego to Sonoma – I would move there if I could. These appetizers look and sound so good and so easy to make too!
Lauren @ Hall Nesting says
I love how cute the olives look in the center
brandy | Nutmeg Nanny says
I love California! So different from New York! These are so great for a party!
Jessica - The Novice Chef says
I love the kick of lemon! It’s such a great flavor to use!
Maryanne | the little epicurean says
Born and raised in California. I’ve lived here for most of my life and I’m still amazing by the variety of scenery and activities within this one state. I hope you enjoy your stay in San Diego! (Like everyone has already said, these look super tasty!)
Meg @ With Salt and Wit says
And these are added to our Thanksgiving menu!