Cheesy Pesto Swirl Rolls

Prep time: 45 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Total time: about an hour
Servings: 12
Cuisine: Italian
Recipe Info

These cheesy pesto rolls are swirled with fresh basil pesto, mozzarella and Parmesan cheese and easy to make in about 1 hour!

Dough Ingredients:
1 cup milk
¼ cup salted butter
2 granulated sugar
1 envelope (2¼ teaspoons) instant “rapid rise” yeast
3½ cups all-purpose flour
2 eggs
1 teaspoon fine sea salt

Pesto Filling Ingredients:
¾ cup (6 ounces) basil pesto, plus extra for brushing on top
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese
½ cup freshly-grated Parmesan cheese
fine sea salt and freshly-cracked black pepper

Heat the milk mixture. Combine milk, butter and honey in small saucepan. Heat over medium heat stirring frequently until the butter is melted and the mixture is 110°F. (It should feel warm but not hot to the touch — I recommend measuring the temperature with a cooking thermometer.) If the mixture is too hot, just wait a few minutes for it to cool.
Mix the dough. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough-hook attachment (or see notes below for how to knead the dough by hand), add the warm milk mixture. Sprinkle the yeast on top, then give the mixture a brief stir. Add 3½ cups of flour, eggs and salt, and beat on medium-low speed until combined. If the dough is sticking to the sides of the bowl, add more flour (up to an additional ½ cup), until the dough begins to form a ball and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. (Use no more than 4 cups of flour total.) Continue beating for 5 minutes on low speed. Remove dough and form it into a ball with your hands. Place it in a greased bowl and cover with a damp towel. Let rest for 10 minutes.
Roll the dough (1st stage). Once the dough is ready, turn it out onto a floured work surface. Use a floured rolling pin to roll the dough out into a large rectangle, about 12 x 18 inches in size. Spread the pesto evenly over the top of the dough, leaving a 1-inch border on the left side (as shown in the photos above). Sprinkle the mozzarella and Parmesan evenly over the pesto, followed by a few extra twists of freshly-cracked black pepper and a pinch of sea salt.
Roll out the dough (2nd stage). Beginning at the 18-inch edge, tightly roll up the dough and give the final seam a little pinch so that it seals. Use a piece of dental floss or a knife to slice off the top and bottom ends of the roll (just ½-inch or so on each end, which you can discard) so that the ends are even. Cut the remaining dough into 12 equal rounds.
Let the dough rise. Place the rolls into a lightly-greased 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Cover the dish with a damp towel, and leave it in a warm place to rise for 25 minutes. Heat the oven to 350°F.
Bake. Once the rolls have risen, uncover the dish and place it on the center rack of the oven. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the rolls are very lightly golden on top and cooked through. Transfer the baking dish to a wire rack. Lightly brush the tops of the rolls with some extra pesto.
Serve. Then serve the rolls while they’re nice and warm… and enjoy!

Garlic butter topping option: Instead of (or in addition to) brushing the tops of the rolls with pesto, feel free to make garlic butter by simmering 2 cloves of finely-minced garlic in 3-4 tablespoons of melted butter for a few minutes until fragrant. Then once the rolls come out of the oven, brush them with the garlic butter while hot.

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