It’s the second week of my new series, Fresh Fridays, and I am stoked to share this recipe with you. When I was looking into what was in season in September and saw arugula was one of those items, I knew it was time to get savory. A typical pesto is made with basil, but what if I changed it up and made it with arugula instead? When you look up this green there is one word that is first and foremost: bitter. Which can obviously be an issue when using it en masse. So I decided to try and counteract that bitterness in the arugula with some unconventional pesto ingredients. The result was a very edible, very delicious filling for some braided bread.
I’d been wanting to try my hand at braided bread for some time since it was so pretty, and I’d seen lots of examples online. Putting pesto in bread is hardly a new idea. But for me, it was something I had yet to try. And I thought making arugula pesto was a great idea, if I do say so myself. So I went for it. This recipe makes two loaves. What I did with the other loaf? Well if you didn’t see on Instagram you’ll have to wait until I post it.
Arugula Pesto Bread
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For the Pesto
- 1 bunch (about 5-6 cups) of arugula, roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1-3 tbsp honey (to taste)
- salt and pepper to taste
- and pinch of sugar
- 1-3 tbsp olive oil
For the Bread
- 3/4 cup warm water
- 2 tsp sugar + 1/2 cup sugar, divided
- 1 tbsp instant yeast
- 1/2 cup flour + 5 cups flour, divided
- 3/4 cup sour cream
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 2 large eggs, beaten (plus 1 extra for egg wash)
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp vanilla
For the Pesto
- In a food processor, add in half the arugula, the walnuts and parmesan, pulse to combine
- Add in second half of arugula, salt, sugar, pepper, lemon juice, and half of the honey, pulse to combine
- On low, stream in olive oil until a thick spread forms, taste and decide whether more honey is needed
- Set pesto aside
For the Bread
- In a small bowl mix together warm water, 2 tsp sugar, yeast, and 1/2 cup flour and cover loosely with plastic until 'sponge' rises and forms, it should be bubbling
- In the bowl of a stand up mixer, add in sponge, sour cream, butter, 2 eggs, salt, vanilla, and 4 1/2 cups of flour
- With the paddle attachment on low, allow to loosely combine, creating a shaggy dough
- Switch to a dough hook and on medium speed knead until a smooth dough is formed
- Move dough to a medium sized greased bowl, sprinkle flour over the top and loosely cover with plastic wrap until it rises, anywhere from 60-90 minutes (it should double in size)
- Once risen, divide in half, set half aside, and roll out other half on lightly floured parchment paper to a rectangle about 10" X 15"
- Using a ruler, make impressions lengthwise to divide the rectangle into three sections
- Take the ruler and make impressions horizontally about 1/2" apart all the way down the dough
- Cut the horizontal marks so strips of dough are on either side of the rectangle
- Spread pesto evenly down the center section of the rectangle, keeping the top and bottom 1/2" inch clean, sprinkle a little sugar over top of pesto
- Starting on which ever side you'd like, cross one strip over the pesto to the other side, follow with the opposite side, crossing over top the previous strip
- Continue down the entire rectangle, giving a braided appearance
- (At this point repeat with second loaf with same filling, therefore doubling pesto recipe, or with whatever filling you'd like)
- Place both on a baking sheet and cover with a towel for about 30 minutes, they will puff up
- Preheat oven to 375
- Remove towel and brush loaves with egg wash (beaten egg and some water)
- Bake for 20-30 minutes, until tops are golden
- Allow to cool before enjoying
- *Describing how to braid this sounds a lot harder than it is. Basically criss cross the strips. There are also a million pictures and videos online on how to do it.
Adapted from King Arthur Flour
Adapted from King Arthur Flour
Domestic B(i)atch http://domesticbatch.com/
If you have something more sophisticated than kitchen shears please use them. I, however, do not.
Guesses on the sweet loaf yet? It’s a childhood favorite that will be perfect for a party, like kid finger sandwiches. Stay tuned for the reveal of loaf number two!!
I would definitely keep an eye on the bread starting around 20 minutes. The original recipe said 25-30 in the oven, but around 22 minutes was good for me.
I can’t tell you how pleased I am that the bitterness baked out of this bad boy. It still tasted like pesto, received rave reviews, and the bread was so soft! The pesto on the inside was like a little surprise. There’s a great earthiness to using walnuts instead of pine nuts. And while I tasted just the tiniest hint of honey, I think it really complemented the pesto, giving the rich arugula a chance to come through, without its bitterness ruining the spread.
I love baking all types of things, but making bread is something that feels a little special. Maybe because its foundation is rooted so deeply in different cultures, something binding that so many can relate to. Bread is so simple, and yet it’s probably one of the most intimidating things for most people to make. If you want to understand my passion for bread I highly recommend watching the “Air” episode of Cooked on Netflix. The whole series is pretty spectacular, but that specific episode focuses on bread and how air is used to create it, and how important bread is in countries all over the world. It’s something that is the centerpiece of dinner. When we should all be sitting around talking, taking time to ask how each others’ day was. Spending quality time with loved ones.
I brought this bread to an epic football Sunday hosted by some close friends. There were smoked meats, and homemade mac and cheese, and baked beans, and I was so happy to throw in some bread to the pile. It was a group of around 20 people, so sitting around a table wasn’t really an option. But we all did find corners in the living room to sit and devour all this great food. It’s weird, because it’s all centered around football (which I love, don’t get me wrong), but having this huge group of friends all want to gather and spend the day together is something I try not to take for granted. I don’t talk about it here too much, but I do have a circle of friends that are beyond anything I’d hoped for. And it’s Sundays like those that I look around that crowded living room, every one with great food and a beer in hand, cheering on their team, chatting with their neighbor, that life feels like it’s definitely going to be ok.
Whoa. Didn’t expect me to get all deep about bread, did you? Well if nothing else, I encourage you to bake something and bring it to a game night. Or football Sunday. Or any chance to be around people you care about and don’t worry about Snapchat all night. Just eat some bread, and listen to each other. It’ll be a great time.