Cooking with Herbs | Basil Pesto and Parmesan Rolls

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If you saw my previous post about sowing seeds, you will know that I’ve been challenged by Cotton Traders to grow my own herbs and cook with them at home. To celebrate the launch of their handy guide to growing your own herbs, Cotton Traders have asked me, along with some other fellow bloggers, to think of a recipe that best showcases fresh herbs and I couldn’t wait to get involved!

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I really enjoy a bit of weekend baking and decided to make these tasty fresh basil pesto and parmesan tear and share rolls, which always go down a treat. (As I only sowed my seeds last Sunday they haven’t had a chance to grow yet so I bought some fresh basil to use instead.) Packed with flavour from the fresh basil and pesto, they’re relatively simple to make as long as you have a few hours to spare to allow the dough time to prove properly. They also look quite impressive and are great for sharing with friends and family. If you want to have a go at baking them at home you can find the recipe below.

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Ingredients:

For the bread:

  • 450g strong white bread flour
  • 7g sachet of yeast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 150g fresh pesto
  • 300 ml warm water
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 jar of sun-dried tomatoes
  • 75g grated parmesan
  • handful of basil leaves

For the pesto:

  • handful of basil leaves
  • 50g grated parmesan
  • 50g pine nuts
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 150ml olive oil

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Method:

  1. Mix together the flour, yeast and salt in a bowl, then pour in the water and olive oil and stir until combined. Knead the dough on a floured work surface until soft and stretchy.
  2. Rub a tsp of olive oil over the dough and place in a clean bowl. Cover the bowl with clingfilm and leave to prove somewhere warm for 1-3 hours.
  3. Whilst the dough is proving, make the fresh pesto by cooking the pine nuts in a frying pan over a low heat until golden, turning occasionally. Blend the pine nuts in a food processor together with the basil, parmesan, garlic and olive oil until smooth.
  4. Once the dough has doubled in size, uncover and punch out the air bubbles. Roll out on a floured work surface into a rectangle and spread with the pesto, grated parmesan, sun-dried tomatoes and basil leaves.
  5. Roll the dough up from one of the longer sides into a long sausage and cut into 12 sections. Place the rolls onto a lined baking tray in a 3 x 4 formation, making sure that the open end is positioned inwards to prevent them from uncoiling and leaving a small gap in between each one so they can expand.
  6. Cover loosely with cling film or a damp tea towel and set aside for an hour to allow them to prove and double in size again.
  7. Bake in the oven at 180ºC fan/ 200ºC for 30-45 mins until golden and leave to cool for another 10 mins before eating.

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There’s really nothing like using fresh herbs to cook with, they add so much flavour and colour to whatever it is you’re making. There’s also an added sesnse of satisfaction when you’ve grown your own herbs from seed (I’m guessing!) and know they haven’t come into contact with any nasty chemicals. When my herbs have grown I’ll definitely be using them for everyday cooking at home.

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Let me know in the comments below if you have a go at making these rolls or even growing your own herbs – I’d love to know what your favourite recipes are for using fresh herbs. Don’t forget to take a look at #CTGrowYourOwn on Twitter for some inspiration from fellow bloggers when it comes to cooking with herbs at home.

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