Emerald green basil pesto swirled through this easy French bread recipe makes a delicious companion to a grilled poultry or meat dish. The pesto bread is also a great picnic bread served with summer tomatoes. I used this pesto bread for the open-faced egg, applewood smoked bacon and tomato sandwich drizzled with basil here.
2 cups fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup parsley leaves
1/2 cup olive oil
2 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
Puree the basil, parsley, oil, garlic and salt in a blender or food processor. Stir in the cheese. If not using immediately, store in refrigerator with a thin layer of olive oil on top or freeze.
1 1/2 packages active dry yeast
2 cups warm water
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon sugar
6-7 cups all-purpose flour
Cornmeal for the baking pan
In a large bowl of a heavy duty mixer, dissolve yeast in the warm water and add the salt and sugar. Mix thoroughly and set aside until foamy.
With the paddle attachment, beat in flour one cup at a time, until a smooth dough forms. Using the dough hook attachment, knead until dough is elastic. Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover and set in a warm place until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours.
When doubled, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board, punch down and knead again. Divide the dough into two equal pieces, cover and let rest for 5 minutes. Pat out 2 rectangles, each about 10×12 inches. Spread a thin layer of the pesto mixture over each, leaving a 1-inch border. Beginning with the long side, roll each rectangle into a cyclinder and shape into a loaf.
Place the loaf on a baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal. Brush with cold water and place in a cold oven. Place a pan of boiling water in the bottom of the oven and turn the oven to 400 degrees F. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the loaves are browned and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Cool on a rack and serve warm for the best flavor.
Makes 2 loaves.
Recipe from “Herbs, Gardens, Decorations, and Recipes by Emelie Tolley and Chris Mead.