Whether you’re gearing up to host Thanksgiving, Friendsgiving, or just a festive fall-inspired dinner party, curating a simple yet elevated menu to impress your friends and family is always the name of the game. This year we connected with a private chef and entertaining expert, Olivia Muniak, for her ideal seasonal starter. Read on for the recipe for Olivia’s Mushroom Toast with Kale Pesto.

Jenné Claiborne's Chinese broccoli in a black bean sauce is served on a white ceramic serving platter.


Mushroom Toast with Kale Pesto Makes 2 starter servings, or appetizers for 10-12


2 lbs Mixed Mushrooms (Maitake, Lions Mane, Oyster)

Garlic or Shallot Confit

4 oz Crème Fraîche

½ cup Dry White Wine

Fresh Thyme or Oregano

Flat-Leaf Parsley

Baguette or Country Loaf

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Flaky Sea Salt

Cracked Pepper

For the Confit:
1-2 Heads of Garlic and/or 3 Shallots
1-2 Bay Leafs

For the Kale Pesto:
1 Bunch of Lacinto Kale
1 Large Garlic Clove
¼ raw, Shelled Pistachios
¼ cup Parmigiano Reggiano 
½ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil


Make the Confit *This can be done up to a week in advance.
Preheat the oven to 450° to make the confit. In an oven-safe dish, peel the garlic and/or shallots. Place in the baking dish with the bay leaf and cover in olive oil. Make sure that the garlic/shallot are completely submerged. Bake at 450° for 45 minutes.

Make the Kale Pesto *This can be done up to three days in advance 
Boil a pot of water, destem the kale. Once the water is boiling, add a pinch of sea salt and blanch the kale (cook the kale in water for 60-90 seconds), remove the kale from the water, and place in the blender with olive oil, Parmigiano Reggiano, pistachios and garlic. Add a pinch of sea salt and freshly cracked pepper. Blend until a chunky consistency is formed, smoother if preferred.

Make the Mushroom Toast
Slice the bread into two thick slices or a baguette into bite-sized pieces, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Toast the bread in the broiler, in a cast iron skillet, or on the grill. It’s best to get some char marks on the bread. 

While the bread is toasting, heat the garlic confit in a large skillet over medium, tear the mushrooms and brown in the pan with a pinch of salt. Be mindful of crowding the mushrooms as they will not brown if the pan is full. You may need to work in batches. Once all the mushrooms have browned, toss them all in the pan. Add white wine and wait 2-4 minutes for the alcohol smell to cook off. Quickly stir the crème fraîche in the pan with thyme or oregano. Add a pinch of flaky salt and fresh cracked pepper. Stir until the mixture forms a thick sauce to coat the back of a wooden spoon. You want it to be creamy and a bit runny.

Serve warm on charred bread with a smothering of kale pesto, a spoonful of mushrooms, and finish with roughly chopped parsley leaves and a pinch of flaky sea salt.