Pesto Swirl Rolls
Makes 24 rolls
Looking for a sure-fire hit to bring to a potluck? Try this crusty French loaf with a swirl of savory pesto, rolled and sliced into individual rolls. To save time, prepare the pesto while the bread is rising.
One 1/4-ounce package (2 1/2 teaspoons) active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 cup warm (105°F–115°F) water
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled to lukewarm
1 teaspoon sea salt
5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, as needed
Oil for baking pan
1 cup Basil Pesto (see below)
Sprinkle the yeast and sugar over the water in a large bowl. Let stand until the mixture looks foamy, about 10 minutes. Stir in the butter and salt. Gradually stir in enough of the flour to make a stiff dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead, adding more flour as required, until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Gather the dough into a ball.
Lightly oil a large bowl. Place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat the dough with the oil. Cover the bowl with a damp kitchen towel, and let stand in a warm place until the dough has doubled in volume, about 1 hour. Punch down the dough, turn out onto a lightly floured work surface, and knead briefly.
Divide the dough in half. Working with one section at a time, roll the dough into a rectangle 12 inches long and 8 inches wide. Spread the dough with the pesto, leaving a 1/2-inch border on all sides. Starting at the long end, roll up into a tight cylinder, pinch the seams closed, and pinch the long end closed.
Using a sharp knife, cut the loaves into 1-inch-thick rounds. Lightly oil two 12-cup muffin tins, and place 1 round of dough in each of the 24 cups. Cover the tins with a damp kitchen towel and let them stand in a warm place until the rolls look puffy, about 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Place a rack on the center of the oven, and bake the rolls until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow the rolls to cool for a few minutes before popping them out of the pan.
Makes 1 1/2 cups
Pesto has many uses that go beyond pasta. Spoon it over steamed vegetables, turn it into a marinade for chicken or fish, or use this basic recipe for your own variations, adding a bit of scented basil, oregano, rosemary, or other herbs as you wish.
2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
2 cups packed fresh basil leaves, rinsed and towel-dried
1 cup packed fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
In the bowl of a food processor, combine the garlic, basil, parsley, and pines nuts. Purée until blended. Add the cheese and pulse to combine. With the motor running, slowly add the oil to make a creamy paste. Season with salt and pepper.