There isn’t anything that is necessary to say about these rolls other than a resounding “WOW!” but not being a woman of few words, I’m going to say a bunch anyway. Once again, I break out what is now pretty firmly cemented as my best-loved bread dough of all time. But I should backtrack a bit…
Before my husband went on his mega-monster business trip, I went to the grocery store and panic purchased not just the toilet paper, paper towels and saltine crackers, but also massive cuts of meat, human-sized bags of oranges and potatoes, and food service packages of salad greens and arugula. After nearly three weeks of constant arugula consumption (not that I’m complaining) I realized I still had a large quantity of arugula that was near the end of its usefulness, and being a waste not want not sort of person, I knew there was no way it was going to be tossed. I decided to bust out the food processor and whip up a batch of arugula pesto.
Arugula pesto is one of those things I love madly but often forget to make. I think of pesto as a summer dish and spend almost the entire month of August up to my armpits in basil and olive oil and whatnot and then forget all about any pesto other than the stuff I’ve crammed into my freezer.
But really people. Have you been in Western New York in February? It’s usually awash in blinding white and gunmetal grey and various shades of brown. It’s not green. And when that third month of winter rolls in, I am so desperate for a glimpse of green, that I become a green food maniac: kale chips, spinach quiches, spanakopita, mustard greens, and so on and so forth. And arugula pesto is an uppercut of green. Every time I make it I think to myself, “WHY did I WAIT so LONG?” Just look at it.
What makes arugula pesto so special? Arugula greens are naturally peppery and bright in flavour that hold their own when combined with the earthy sweetness of toasted walnuts, salty pungency of Parmesan cheese, fragrantly kicky garlic and smooth olive oil. You’ll never miss the pine nuts with those toasted walnuts present. (And oofah! have you seen the price of those pine nuts? After tasting pesto made with walnuts you may never go back!)
After making that glorious pesto, I realized I had far, far more of it than we could possibly consume over pasta, roasted potatoes, rice, or whatever else I could rustle up and so took inspiration from this beautiful pan of food and that brings me back to where I started…
I rolled out a double batch of my best beloved bread dough and slathered it generously with my verdant arugula pesto, rolled it up jellyroll style and cut it into rounds á la sweet rolls. I filled two cake pans and a muffin tin, just to see which we liked better, let it rise and then baked them off. Oh my. You know that magical smell that bread dough has when it’s baking? Yeah. That smell! It’s just that much more drool-inducing when it’s filled with garlic and toasted walnuts and Parmesan cheese and arugula and olive oil. Oh me.
When the rolls came out of the oven, we decided as a group that visually, the ones baked in the muffin tins were prettier with their tall, tight whorls, and smooth edges.
Texturally, though, we liked the ones in the cake pans because it was fun to unravel them (like you would a cinnamon roll. You do eat them that way, too, right?) and nibble away.
Both ways we baked them, the rolls were incredibly tender, soft, and packed with pesto flavour. The decision, therefore, is up to you. Bake them either way, just do bake them!
*You will please notice I said ‘we’. That’s right. Even the gruesome-twosome anti-vegetable contingent threw back these rolls like they hadn’t eaten in a week. In other words, THEY ATE VEGETABLES WILLINGLY. Score one for Team Big People. I’m telling you, these two honyaks WILL knowingly like vegetables if it kills me.
We made a dinner of these dinner rolls. I didn’t make another thing to serve alongside them because they were perfect on their own. Oh sure, they would’ve been grand alongside pasta, salad or soup, but I just wanted to taste them on their own. And hey, they’re chock full of arugula. That makes them healthy right?
So how would you serve these lovelies?