Quiz time! (This one is fun, promise.)
Question: What is cheesy and pesto-y and carb-y and one of the best creations to come out of my oven?
If you answered these Parmesan pesto skillet rolls, ding ding ding! You are correct. Gold star for you. No, a roll for you. And one for me, too, because writing quizzes is hard.
You know what isn’t, though? Making and eating these delicious rolls of cheesy, pesto-y, carb-y deliciousness. I know I tell you approximately every day that you need to get A, B or C carbs into your life, but I mean it the most this time. If you’ve got a spare minute to bake this weekend, make that time for these rolls. If you feel like you need to have a side dish to go with that soup on the stove, make it these rolls. If you just want to bake slash eat all the cheesy bread (with extra pesto, please!), get these rolls in your life.
They’re pillowy, they’re tender and soft, they’re filled with cheese and pesto and then also topped with cheese and pesto and you can eat them straight from the oven while they’re still warm and the cheese is ooey-gooey and melty and the light crust is still lightly crusty and no seriously, I’ll be right back because I need to go get another one of these rolls right now. For the love of cheese and pesto.
I don’t know where you are with this (except maybe you East Coast people who just got covered in snow), but I am at THAT POINT in winter when it’s just… ugh, enough. You know, when the cabin fever has fully settled into my bones and I can’t stand another second staring at the expanding gaps in my floorboards but I also don’t want to go outside for even 5.4 seconds because it’s so cold and windy that my eyes tear up and I can’t feel my face even though I’m so bundled up that I can’t put my arms down and wah wah wahhhh? I know. This is what I get for deciding to live in Minnesota.
But anyway, all of that to say, I’m there. And because I’m there, I’m baking up a storm in the kitchen — an anti-winter storm, if you will. So far, that storm has produced anything and everything from salmon to brownies to muffins to pizzas to these rolls. And while we’re eating a lot more elaborate home-cooked meals lately, they’re also being served with a side of warm weather desperation — which, so far, has culminated only in hours upon hours of researching warm weather places to go in the winter. Hey, Miami/Puerto Rico/Palm Springs/anywhere but here that is warm, can you not be so expensive so we can get to you? You know, along with a baby and her pack and play and her car seat and her toys and her — you know what, nevermind. I’ll just stay here with a space heater in my face huddled under a blanket.
So yeah… about these rolls! If anything has been a silver lining in these gray winter days, it’s these rolls. Not only for the aforementioned reasons regarding all the cheese and pesto, but also because you can stand by the oven where it’s warm waiting for them to bake, and once they’re out of the oven, you can eat them right away while they’re still warm, which will in turn warm your insides and your heart and your soul. As breads do.
I went the storebought jar of pesto and Parmesan/Asiago cheese route with my version, but feel free to be far fancier than I and use your homemade pesto recipe and any combo of cheese you love. I also highly recommend using Red Star yeast for the recipe, because for me it yields the best results when it comes to baking bread at home. Finally, be sure to use every bit of the olive oil in this recipe to brush the pan and the rolls, because the oil is what gives the rolls their ultra-softness with a hint of crust. It’s. so. good. And did I mention the cheese?
Palm Springs has nothing on these skillet rolls. Except palm trees and sunshine and all that stuff, but OTHERWISE, these rolls win.
- 2¼ teaspoons (1 packet) Red Star active dry yeast
- ½ cup warm water (about 110 to 115 degrees F)
- ½ cup warm milk (about 110 to 115 degrees F)
- ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons pesto, divided
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 egg
- 3¼ cups all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for topping
- 5 ounces shredded Asiago cheese
- Chopped fresh basil leaves, for topping
- In a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer, combine yeast and warm water. Let sit 5 to 10 minutes until yeast dissolves.
- Meanwhile, in a separate large bowl, whisk warm milk, 2 tablespoons pesto, sugar, 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt and egg until combined.
- Add pesto mixture to yeast mixture; stir to combine. Add 3 cups flour and Parmesan cheese; stir until a dough forms.
- Use dough hook on low speed to knead dough 8 to 10 minutes, adding just enough of remaining flour 1 tablespoon at a time until a smooth, soft and only slightly sticky dough forms (it should pull away from sides of bowl) OR, knead dough by hand on a floured surface 10 to 12 minutes, adding just enough of remaining flour 1 tablespoon at a time until a smooth, soft and only slightly sticky dough forms (it should no longer stick to your hands like gum).
- Shape dough into a ball and place in a large bowl (the stand mixer bowl is fine); cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place 1 to 1½ hours until doubled.
- Meanwhile, brush bottom and sides of a 12-inch cast-iron or other oven-safe skillet with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Punch down dough and divide into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, then space evenly in oiled skillet. Sprinkle shredded Asiago cheese between rolls, then spoon remaining ¼ cup pesto between rolls. Brush tops of rolls with remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Cover skillet with plastic wrap and let rise 30 minutes until rolls are puffy and nearly doubled.
- Uncover rolls and bake 30 minutes until tops of rolls are golden brown. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese and chopped fresh basil. Serve warm.
Disclosure: I received compensation from Red Star Yeast for recipe development purposes. All opinions are my own.