Rami and I are both in horrible moods since Texas lost to UCLA this afternoon. We’re drowning our sorrows in rosemary, butter, and bread with these mini pesto rolls I created.
This is the recipe I’ve been tinkering with all week in preparation for the potluck at Greenling’s Best of Austin Bash next Thursday. It meets the main four requirements for any potluck recipe:
- It tastes good.
- It’s pretty to look at.
- The recipe is cheap and makes a lot.
- It’s easy to make ahead of time, freeze and reheat.
Plus, since this is a Greenling potluck, the recipe had to use a lot of local ingredients. These rolls use sweet potatoes from Naegelin Farms, rosemary and parsley from Pure Luck Farm and Dairy, garlic from Green Gate Farms, and Parmesan from Brazos Valley Cheese. I am really excited to meet up with some of these farmers on Thursday so I can thank them for helping me to create this delicious recipe!
These rolls are time consuming, but worth it. The sweet potato in the dough makes the bread very moist and tender. The rosemary pesto, while too strong for most of my pasta recipes, holds up beautifully in the oven. I think I’ll definitely be making these for Thanksgiving this year– but earlier in the week than the turkey since they’re so labor intensive.
Rosemary Pesto Rolls (makes about 90 mini rolls or 36 full sized rolls)
2 sweet potatoes
1 cup potato cooking water, reserved
2 sprigs rosemary
1 cup milk, room temperature
1 packet active dry yeast
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 tsp. salt
5-7 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup rosemary needles
1 cup parsley
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup pecan halves
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup butter
Preparation: Wash and chop sweet potatoes. Boil unpeeled potato chunks with sprigs of rosemary until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the pesto filling. Remove the rosemary needles from the woody stem.
Combine 1/3 cup rosemary needles with the remainder of the pesto ingredients in a food processor. Pulse until ingredients are processed into a smooth paste. Scoop out pesto filling and set aside for later use. (You’ll have just over a cup of pesto.) Clean out the food processor bowl, we’ll use it in the dough prep!
Now, back to the potatoes. Once they are tender, remove from heat. Use a slotted spoon to remove the rosemary sprigs from the water. Peel the needles off the woody stem, and mince with a knife. Put about 1 tbs. of minced rosemary in the food processor bowl. Remove peel from cooked potatoes and add those to the food processor, too. Reserve 1 cup of the hot potato water. Puree the potatoes and rosemary in the food processor.
You should have 1 to 1.5 cups of potato puree. Add one cup reserved potato water and milk and puree. The resulting liquid should still be very warm from cooking, about 110 degrees. (Use a thermometer to measure if you’re anal retentive like me.)
Transfer liquid to a large mixing bowl and add yeast and sugar. Let yeast proof, then add melted butter and beaten egg. If the liquid is slightly viscous and bubbly, you’re doing it right!
Add about 5 cups of flour to the mixture, stirring constantly. Stir and stir and stir until the dough becomes elastic and begins to pull away from the edges of the bowl. If it is very humid outside, you may need an additional 1/2 cup or cup of flour for the dough ball to solidify. Continue stirring until dough loses its sheen and can be removed easily from the sides of the bowl with a spatula.
Cover the bowl with a damp towel and place in a warm spot for about 45 minutes, until dough volume is nearly doubled.
Punch down dough and knead on a floured surface with floured hands. Once dough holds shape reasonably well, use a pastry cutter to divide into four even pieces.
Now the fun begins! Set aside the extra dough and work with one piece at a time. On the floured surface, roll dough until it is 1/4 inch thick and 6-7 inches wide and 18-22 inches long.
Spread 1/4 cup pesto filling on the dough with a spatula. Roll up the dough longways, using the pastry scraper to support the dough if necessary to keep from ripping. The tube of dough should be about the size of a broom handle.
Use un-waxed, unflavored dental floss to cut the roll into one-inch sections. Place the rolls about 1/4 inch apart in a buttered glass baking dish. Brush the tops of the rolls with butter.
Repeat this process three more times with the remaining dough and pesto. I used one 9×13 pan, one pie pan, and two 7×11 pans to hold all the mini rolls. Once all the rolls are assembled, cover pans with damp towels and place in a warm spot to rise. Let sit for about an hour, or until rolls have doubled in size.
Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes, until rolls are lightly brown. Eat these right out of the oven, or freeze them for later service. They’re delicious either way!