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Braided Pesto Bread

2012 August 2
by admin

To say the Omnivore guards his basil would even be an understatement.


I’m not allowed to water it.  I’m not allowed to use it when he’s not around to police the way I pluck leaves.

The situation even gets stickier when I talk about using HIS basil to make pesto.


Nope.  Only the man of the house should make pesto.  I might do something sinful like decrease the amount of oil or replace the parmesan cheese with nutritional yeast.

I crossed my heart, hoped to die, stuck a needle in my eye …


and he let me make pesto.  While he observed.  Using only his recipe.  I have no idea where he got the recipe from.  I have no idea if it is the best recipe for pesto out there – he won’t exactly let me experiment.  It is damn good, though, so that’s all that really matters.

I used walnuts instead of pine nuts because oh lawdy those pignolis are pricey.  If you use pine nuts, reduce nut amount by 1/4 cup.


I used to pesto twice in one night – one to make this braided french loaf and the second was simply stirred into hot pasta.  Both were fantastic.

Braided Pesto Bread (from Confections of a Foodie Bride – great step by step pictures!)


1 cup warm water
2 tsp yeast
2 1/2 cups flour, plus more for dusting work surface
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
For the loaf:
~1/2 cup pesto, purchased or homemade (see recipe below)
2 Tbsp grated parmesan cheese


  1. Place warm water in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the dough hook and sprinkle yeast over top. Let stand until foamy. If it doesn’t, your yeast is dead.
  2. Add the flour, oil, and salt and turn the mixer to low.
  3. Knead the dough for 5 minutes until smooth and elastic for a total of 5 minutes.
  4. Form the dough into a smooth ball and transfer to a lightly greased bowl and let rise until doubled, approximately one hour.
  5. Preheat oven to 425.
  6. Flour your work surface.
  7. Stretch and elongate your dough round.
  8. Roll into a rectangle ~18×12 inches.
  9. Spread pesto over top, spreading evenly, leaving a 1/2-inch border around the edge of the dough rectangle.
  10. Roll the long side of the dough to you and pinch the seam closed.
  11. Transfer to your parchment-lined or cornmeal-dusted baking sheet.
  12. Cut the dough in half down the length of the dough using sharp kitchen shears. Pinch the top ends together.
  13. Working quickly, braid the two pieces, keeping the pieces twisted so that the cut ends remain facing upward.
  14. Transfer to your baking sheet and let rest for 30 minutes.
  15. Top with shredded parmesan and bake for ~25 minutes, until golden brown.

Basil Pesto (adapted from an unknown source)


5 cups basil leaves
2/3 cup olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
3 cloves garlic
1 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1 cup walnuts, toasted in a dry pan until fragrant


  1. Combine all ingredients except olive oil in a food processor. While running the processor, stream in olive oil.

  • Eileen

    PESTO!  I love the bits peeking through the slits in the bread.  Thanks for the great idea!

  • Beth

    I just made some pesto the other day! This looks so good… maybe I’ll give it a shot after it cools down just a little here. 

  • Kate

    See, I’d just let him make the pesto in cases like this and I’d sit with my feet up on the couch drinking lemonade.

  • Shumaila

    sounds delicious! I wish my man would be so interested in gardening (even if it is only the basil plant) or entering the kitchen to make anything (pesto would be a blessing!). Pinning it- love the idea! 

  • ErinsFoodFiles

    Looks gorgeous!