I was in the mood for pasta, tonight and pasta, to me, means bread. You need something to sop up the sauce. My go-to breads are generally of the rustic-Italian style. I wanted something a bit different, tonight.

The weather outside is perfect for proofing dough, so I thought a basic white bread turned into pesto rolls would fit my need. Where my rustic Italian loaves are pretty much just flour, water, salt, and yeast, white bread needs a few more ingredients to make it lighter and more tender. Fat and sugar are the two ingredients used for tenderness – eggs and flour are for structure – so a bit of sugar and olive oil were used. I didn’t think to take pictures of the dough when it first came out, or even when I formed them, but when I saw what the pan looked like after an hour outside, I grabbed the camera!

They were as good as they looked! Light and airy with a bit of a crusty crust.

This dough makes a really good loaf of sandwich bread and because there’s no milk or eggs like many white breads, I’ll be able to rework it at Thanksgiving for my great-nephew, Miles! I’m thinking maybe a savory pumpkin roll instead of the rolls I usually make. We shall see – we have a few months to work it out.

In the meantime, here’s what I did…

Pesto Rolls

  • 1 cup lukewarm water
  • 1 pkg (2 1/2 tsp) active dry yeast
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cups flour

Proof yeast in water with sugar.

With mixer on low, add flour and salt, and then drizzle in the oil. Mix with dough hook for about 6-8 minutes or until dough is smooth and silky. You don’t want it sticky and you don’t want it dry.

Oil top, cover, and let rise about an hour, until doubled.

Place dough on a lightly-floured surface and pat out with hands to a rectangle.

Spread with pesto and roll up from the long end. Slice into individual rolls and place close together on a oiled baking sheet. Cover and allow to proof again, until dounled.

Place in a preheated 350°F oven for about 30 minutes. Brush hot rolls with melted better, if desired.

Here’s a simple pesto recipe. Blanching the basil really takes away a lot of the bitterness that some basil can have.

Pesto alla Genovese

  • 6 cups loosely packed basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup pecorino romano cheese

Soak basil in a large bowl of cold water; let stand 5 minutes. Qquickly blanch and immediately plunge into ice water.Combine nuts and garlic in blender jar and add the olive oil. Purée until nuts are very finely chopped and mixture is creamy. Add salt.

Slowly add basil to blender and purée just to combine. Add cheese and purée just to combine.

Place in bowl and cover with a thin film of oil.

And then we had the pasta!

This was a clean-out-the-‘fridge-and-freezer dish! I had a few sausages and a few meatballs in the freezer, and some olives, mushrooms, and roasted red peppers in the ‘fridge. Everything went into the pot with a quart of Victor’s homemade sauce.

Dinner was really good!