Thursday, October 8, 2009
If I had to pick my favorite herb, it'd probably be basil. It's not the most exotic herb around, but it's so pretty and fragrant that I can't help but love it and, by extension, love pesto. I'm always trying to find new ways to use the stuff. Most recently, I came up with pesto rolls, which are basically like a savory version of cinnamon rolls.
Just like with cinnamon rolls, there are three elements here: dough, filling and topping. There are versions of all these all over the place, so instead of going into detail, I'll just give a general overview.
Dough: Just basic cinnamon roll dough. Shocking no one, I like the Vegan Brunch recipe. This isn't just my usual bias; I've tried a couple of others and couldn't get them to rise as well. Replace whatever fat is in your recipe with olive oil, and cut the sugar in half. When scheduling, keep in mind that the dough is yeasted and will need enough time to rise (probably twice). Starting it the day before and letting it rise overnight totally works.
Filling: About 1/2 - 3/4 cup pesto. All traditional pesto recipes are pretty similar, but I've been using the one from Nonna's Italian Kitchen. The only thing you want to do differently than your instructions will say is add your olive oil about 1/2 teaspoon at a time, so you can keep an eye on the consistency. The pesto should be pretty thick, to keep it from running out the sides as you roll the dough (it will definitely run anyway, so keep some crackers or carrots on hand to scoop it up). When it's done, it might need a little help from a spatula to pour out of your food processor.
Topping: Garlic infused olive oil. Most infused oils are really easy to make: throw some super clean herbs in a cheesecloth bag, throw the bag in a sterilized container of oil and wait. Simple. However, doing that with garlic will probably give you botulism. To make garlic infused oil, sautee about two tablespoons chopped garlic in about half a cup of oil for a few minutes, until it's all kinds of fragrant. Since, in most cases, you'll just be straining the garlic out, you don't need to worry about how you chop it, but keep in mind that the smaller you make it, the greater the surface area you'll have, the faster the garlicky goodness will seep out and permeate your oil. Be sure to wait until the oil is cool before straining it. I didn't bother straining my oil because I was tired and making these rolls for a bunch of garlic fiends.
To assemble, follow your cinnamon roll instructions, and serve hot, if you can.