MB Manion Morell

Pull Apart Bread with Sage Walnut Pesto and Fontina Cheese

MB Manion Morell
Pull Apart Bread with Sage Walnut Pesto and Fontina Cheese
Pull Apart Bread with Sage Walnut Pesto and Fontina Cheese

Happy New Years Day, everyone!

I’m up early, drinking coffee and contemplating my New Year’s Resolutions. This is usually a Groundhog Day kind of exercise for me, as my resolutions rarely change, so I decided to peruse the Internet for a bit of inspiration this morning.  And I’m officially inspired…

Father James Martin’s brilliant New Years Resolutions for Absolutely Everyone rocks – My personal favorite of the well-known Jesuit: #9 – Help someone who is really needy. A homeless person. A poor person. A refugee. A sick person. A grieving person. It’s not hard to figure out how to do it. And if you don’t know anyone like that, write a check. That’s not so hard either. Helping doesn’t require an advanced degree.  Amen Padre.

From Brooke Seward’s awesome World of Wanderlust blog… I loved 12 Resolutions to be More Adventurous in the New Year  – Especially #3. Go somewhere new every weekend.  Brooke says:  Exploring where you live can be just as exciting as going to somewhere on the other side of the world “You can’t tell me you’ve tried every single restaurant in town, been to every attraction within a 100 km radius and have nothing left to do! There’s always plenty to explore nearby." True story.  On it.

I love this 26 Tiny Things You Need to Start Doing for Yourself Right Now, particularly #21. Take a workout class you feel completely ridiculous signing up for. Try hip hop, Zumba, or kickboxing. If you can’t get a friend to do it with you, just be brave and go alone.  Here I come SoulCycle.

I’m forever searching for great books to read, and will be consulting this list of adult booksthis list of Children’s Booksthis list of cookbooks, and this list of inspirational books. Obviously, I’ll be sleeping less.

If I have any time left over after all that resolving, I’d also like to up my cooking and blogging game.

This crazy amazing pull-apart bread recipe seems like a great place to start.  My dear friend Fiona gave me her copy of the December/January Donna Hay magazine before she headed to Australia to celebrate the holidays with her family.  This gorgeous issue featured a dozen recipes I couldn’t wait to try, including a version of this super-fun bread.  Really, who wouldn’t love savory oozy cheesy bread served up cinnamon roll style?

I’ve made it three times over the holidays, varying it slightly each time.  No one seemed to mind. This, my friends, is the hands-down winner.  A wintery pesto of sage, walnuts and parsley layered with a generous portion of provolone cheese rolled into a light yeast bread and popped into the oven.  I brought it to a New Year’s Eve party yesterday as an appetizer (where it disappeared) but it can certainly be served as a bread with a meal.

Off I go to tackle some resolutions… Happy 2016 all!

Pull Apart Bread with Sage Walnut Pesto and Fontina Cheese


Pull Apart Bread with Sage Walnut Pesto and Fontina Cheese

The dough is adapted from a recipe in the Dec/Jan 2016 Donna Hay Magazine, the pesto is adapted slightly from the Not Without Salt blog

Makes: 15 rolls


The dough:

  • 1 cup milk

  • 4 tablespoons butter

  • 1 tablespoon sugar

  • 2 teaspoons dry yeast

  • 3¼ cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting

  • ½ teaspoon sea salt flakes

  • 2 eggs

The Sage Walnut Pesto

  • ¼ cup Italian parsley

  • ¼ cup mint

  • 1 cup sage, packed

  • 2 garlic cloves

  • ¾ cup walnuts, toasted

  • ¾ cup grated Parmesan

  • ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil

  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (or to taste)

  • 2 cups provolone cheese


  1. Place half the milk in a small saucepan over high heat and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat, add the butter and sugar and stir until the butter has melted. Add the remaining milk and set aside for 5 minutes. Add the yeast, stir to combine and set aside for 5 minutes or until the surface is foamy.

  2. Place the flour, salt, eggs and yeast mixture into the bowl of an electric mixer with a dough hook attached and beat for 5 minutes or until the dough is smooth. Transfer to a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 30 minutes or until doubled in size.

  3. While the dough is rising, make the pesto by combining the herbs, garlic, walnuts, parmesan cheese, black pepper, and olive oil in the bowl of a food processor and pulsing until a smooth paste is formed. Set aside.

  4. Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to roughly a 15 x 22 inch rectangle (the dough should be about a half-inch thick.)

  5. Spread the dough with the sage pesto and top evenly with the provolone cheese.

  6. Beginning at the long end farthest from you, roll the rectangle tightly toward you. Use both hands and work slowly, being careful to keep the roll tight. When you reach the end, pinch the seam together.

  7. Transfer to a cutting board and, with a sharp knife, make 1 ½-inch slices.

  8. Line an iron skillet or casserole with parchment paper, and arrange the rounds in circles. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 30 minutes or until doubled in size.

  9. Preheat the oven to 400°F.

  10. Remove the plastic wrap, brush with a bit of olive oil and cook for 20 to 22 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through.