After deciding to try out a pesto alternative using pistachios in my Pistachio Pesto Recipe, I kind of needed something to do with all that pesto I made. Since the flavor veers away from a more traditional pesto and didn’t seem as though it would work being tossed with some pasta (my go-to, quick and easy cheat for a fast dinner), I wanted to find a different way to incorporate it into a recipe.
I usually get of my cooking inspiration from having cooking shows running almost constantly in the background of what I’m doing. More often than not, something will catch my attention and I’ll jump to try and incorporate flavors or techniques that I just saw into what I’m doing this week or next. For this recipe I can thank the PBS chef series, Mind of a Chef.
I got totally hooked on the show after falling in love with the Asian influence and modern take of NY’s Momofuku noodle bar, the brain child of contemporary culinary guru Chef David Chang. It wasn’t even until I was a few episodes in that I realized the entire show was produced by Anthony Bourdain – and, mind blown, I was obsessed. Chang has since been replaced with the adorably southern Chef Sean Block and the British Chef April Bloomfield, who brings a very real and down to Earth feeling to her segments. Long story short, on one of Chef Bloomfields segments was about her savory adaptation to morning buns (think cinnamon buns) by using bitter greens to create a twist on pesto that she rolled into a morning bun dough and served in single portions after cooking in muffin tins.
I figured the meatier and heartier flavors of my pistachio pesto would lend themselves well to a savory dough recipe. Since the pesto could still be a little overwhelming, I opted to add a dried tomato of some sort to even everything out. Since processed sun-dried tomatoes at the store carry such a high premium, I opted to get a can of dice “fire roasted” tomatoes and dry them myself in the oven. You get the same deep flavor and usually ends up to be about 1/4 of the price. Also, to add a little texture – I cracked a few more pistachios and then toasted them to be included in the mix.
Once the ingredients were taken care of, I had to roll out the dough. I cheated and used Pillsbury French Bread in a can – for starters I should have used 2 cans, let them come to room temperature, combined the two and then rolled them out not quite as flat to potentially create a fluffier bun once they were baked. Or I could have been less lazy and made the dough from scratch – but I did neither of these things. The taste turned out as I had expected, there just wasn’t an overabundance of fluffy bun dough that I had pictured in my head and as Chef Bloomfield had pulled off in her creation. Either way, best tip for this step – let the dough get warm and then use lots of flour to keep it from sticking. Cold dough likes to hold its shaped and makes for a pain in the butt to try and shape.
All that’s left is to gently roll the dough into one long log and cut out the individual buns to place in your muffin pan. I didn’t trust the nonstick coating on mine so I added a little butter into the molds to make sure they wouldn’t get stuck. Brush a little more butter onto the tops so they’ll brown and through them in the oven for a bit and you’ll have warm, hearty and flavor packed savory morning buns to munch on. I served these with a honey roasted ham and some stone ground mustard, the flavors really worked together. Looking back, I wish I’d reduced some balsamic vinegar with brown sugar to make a tart/sweet glaze to go with the buns.