For those of you fortunate enough to have a lot of basil in your garden right now, this is a perfect summer bread. I make fresh bread almost every day for my family using this super easy method but once in a while it's nice to stuff the bread with a savory filling.
When I make this, I don't really use a hard and fast recipe for the pesto, but I've written one up for you. Pesto is so easy - a big handful of fresh basil, a garlic clove, a little scoop of pine nuts and some grated cheese and olive oil. Make it into a paste by either chopping by hand (I like my mezzaluna) or whirling it all up in your food processor. I do like doing it by hand sometimes because the texture has such a rustic feel to it. The food processor, or course, is much faster. No time to make pesto? Use a store bought version and you'll still have a very tasty bread.
for a printable recipe, click here
Remember that for this bread, everything is flexible when it comes to the ingredient quantities. The amount of bread dough is approximate. The ingredients in the pesto are flexible - if you really like pine nuts, just add a little more. The amount of pesto you want to put in the bread dough is up to you. I have actually doubled the pesto amount and baked it in bread. It makes it a little harder to shape the loaf so that there is no pesto coming out, so I have halved the amount of pesto for you in this version. If some pesto leaks out during baking, don't worry too much about it. The bread will still taste great.
You can make the pesto by hand for a more rustic texture or use a food processor.
For the bread dough:
Bread dough, about 1 pound (the size of a large grapefruit). I use the Artisan No-Knead Bread Dough.
For the pesto:
- 1 garlic clove
- 1/8 cup pine nuts
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves, packed
- 1 ounce Parmigianno Reggiano cheese, grated
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
By hand with a knife or mezzaluna: Place the garlic clove and about half of the pine nuts along with half of the basil leaves on your cutting board. With a very sharp knife or mezzaluna, start chopping everything up. Keep scraping your mixture up with your knife and chopping. Add more of the pine nuts and basil until it is all added. Add the cheese and olive oil and mix until well blended.
With a food processor: Place garlic clove, pine nuts and basil in a food processor and process until finely chopped (or roughly chopped, whichever you prefer). Add cheese and olive oil and process until smooth.
Place a pizza stone in your oven and start preheating it at 450 degrees F. Prepare a pizza peel or just an upside down baking sheet by placing a piece of parchment paper on top. Roll dough out on a well floured surface, using a rolling pin. Flour the top of dough to prevent it from sticking. Placing a piece of plastic wrap on top of the dough helps. Roll out until dough it is a rectangle (about 15" x 8"). Spread pesto over entire surface. Roll up the long side as tightly as you can. Pinch sides under and place the dough carefully on the parchment paper. Allow to rise for 30 minutes.
You can vary the amount of pesto you spread on the bread. The photo above shows a very thick amount of pesto. A thinner amount makes it easier to roll up the dough, so don't use too much the first time you make it.
Flour the top of the dough and, using a sharp small knife, slash dough on top 3 times, but not very deeply (you don't want the pesto to come out). Slide, along with the parchment paper, out onto the pizza stone. Bake for about 35 minutes, until the top is a deep golden brown. Remove to a rack to cool.