Saturday, July 9, 2011

Pesto Breadsticks

Hi everyone!  I've been on vacation for a couple of weeks and it was wonderful.  I spent my days swimming with the kiddos or lounging by the pool, taking walks along the riverbank and enjoying perfect weather and great company.  Who knew Reno, Nevada could be so relaxing.  There is really more there than casinos. 

But now I'm home and still have no oven, so I've been giving my dutch ovens a real workout.  I had hoped to be working on some fun and different DO dishes, but necessity has forced me to cook the conventional dinner dishes and breads.  We even cook fish sticks for lunch in the big black pots!  I have never been so grateful that I spent last year learning to cook outdoors!

Today's recipe is a twist on my all time favorite bread stick recipe.  I have been obsessed with pesto lately, and I've been looking for excuses to add it to everything I can think of.  I've used it for everything from a pasta sauce to sandwich spread to grilled cheese sandwiches.  My family is starting to wonder if I'm going a little nutty.  On the upside of my new obsession, I came up with this yummy recipe!

Pesto Bread Sticks
2- 12 inch dutch ovens

1 1/2 cups warm water
1 Tbs. instant yeast
2 Tbs. sugar
3 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
6 Tbs. butter
 Prepared Pesto  (I used a beautiful sun-dried tomato pesto.  I found it in the canned tomato section of the grocery store.  Regular basil pesto can usually be found in the deli section near the gourmet cheeses.)

Mix all the ingredients except the butter and the pesto in a mixing bowl and mix well until a soft dough forms.  Knead for about 3 minutes.  Let the dough rest for 10 minutes.  Place 3 Tbs. of butter in each dutch oven and melt the butter over about 6 coals.  You don't want to heat the pots too much, just enough to melt the butter.  Remove the pots from the heat. 

Roll out the bread stick dough into a rectangle until it is about 1/4-1/2 inch thick.  Spread the pesto on half of the long side of the dough.  I used quite a lot of pesto, probably over 1/2 cup because I love it so much.  The amount of pesto is up to you.  If you love it, really slather it on, if you aren't so sure, use less.  After the pesto is evenly spread, fold the plain section of dough over the pesto.  So you will end up with the dough folded in half lengthwise and pesto in the middle.  (Am I making any sense at all?)

Using a pizza cutter, cut the dough into strips about 1 inch wide.  Twist slightly and place in your pots.  This makes about 22-24 bread sticks, so split them between the 2 pots.  Cover and let rise 30 minutes.  Bake at 375° for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.  Use 1 1/2 rings + a couple of coals on top and 1 ring on the bottom.  Remove from heat and spread with melted butter and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese if desired.

The Finished Product

As you can tell, I didn't split my bread sticks up into two pots.  I was running low on charcoal so I tried to cram them all into my 14" oven.  Not a great idea since they were terrible to try to get apart in one piece.  Use two pots to make it easier.

The Review

I've tried several variations on these bread sticks, but this one is my favorite.  The bread is soft and delicious, my kiddos thought the pesto made them taste like pizza.  And anything that tastes like pizza is a hit at my house.  I think these are a great way to introduce new flavors to kids in a form that they will love.  Grade A.

Recipe Source:  Adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

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