Spinach, Feta, and Basil Pesto Pull-apart Bread


 
Spinach, Feta and Basil pesto Pull-apart bread. This pull apart loaf is super easy to put together, while being very impressive at the same time! A simple dough is filled with a spinach, feta and basil pesto filling, then cut into rectangles and layered into a loaf tin for the perfect pull apart bread. #pullapartbread #basilpestobread #spinachloaf
Spinach, Feta and Basil pesto Pull-apart bread. This pull apart loaf is super easy to put together, while being very impressive at the same time! A simple dough is filled with a spinach, feta and basil pesto filling, then cut into rectangles and layered into a loaf tin for the perfect pull apart bread. #pullapartbread #basilpestobread #spinachloaf
Spinach, Feta and Basil pesto Pull-apart bread. This pull apart loaf is super easy to put together, while being very impressive at the same time! A simple dough is filled with a spinach, feta and basil pesto filling, then cut into rectangles and layered into a loaf tin for the perfect pull apart bread. #pullapartbread #basilpestobread #spinachloaf
Spinach, Feta and Basil pesto Pull-apart bread. This pull apart loaf is super easy to put together, while being very impressive at the same time! A simple dough is filled with a spinach, feta and basil pesto filling, then cut into rectangles and layered into a loaf tin for the perfect pull apart bread. #pullapartbread #basilpestobread #spinachloaf
Spinach, Feta and Basil pesto Pull-apart bread. This pull apart loaf is super easy to put together, while being very impressive at the same time! A simple dough is filled with a spinach, feta and basil pesto filling, then cut into rectangles and layered into a loaf tin for the perfect pull apart bread. #pullapartbread #basilpestobread #spinachloaf
Spinach, Feta and Basil pesto Pull-apart bread. This pull apart loaf is super easy to put together, while being very impressive at the same time! A simple dough is filled with a spinach, feta and basil pesto filling, then cut into rectangles and layered into a loaf tin for the perfect pull apart bread. #pullapartbread #basilpestobread #spinachloaf
Spinach, Feta and Basil pesto Pull-apart bread. This pull apart loaf is super easy to put together, while being very impressive at the same time! A simple dough is filled with a spinach, feta and basil pesto filling, then cut into rectangles and layered into a loaf tin for the perfect pull apart bread. #pullapartbread #basilpestobread #spinachloaf

I have a couple of weird things that always tug at my heart strings - one is people eating alone in restaurants. As a kid I always got really worried that they were lonely and that they had nobody to talk to - it’s still a running joke in my family now. As I’ve gotten older I have realised that eating alone is actually something that is great for everyone to do now and again - and that going to a coffee shop alone with a book is something that should happen often. Anyway, where this is taking me is that last weekend I went to Portland, Maine (alone! and it was amazing!), for the Harvest on the Harbor festival and to hang out with Filippo Berio. Portland is crazy cute - a little wee town on the coast about an hour’s flight from NYC. They have some super cute coffee shops and restaurants, and I had the best time pottering around by myself - I can’t wait to go back and spend more time there in the future.

It is always super inspiring to see the Filippo Berio booths at their events, and this Spinach, Feta, and Basil Pesto Pull-apart bread was the product of the most recent visit. Filippo Berio makes some of the best jarred pesto I have ever tasted, and the pesto flavour complimented the feta and spinach in the filling perfectly. I actually made this pull-apart bread for the first time a couple of weeks ago, and have been tweaking the rolling and filling directions to make it as easy as possible. Lots of pull-apart breads will have you roll out the bread and cut circles, which you then fold into half-moons and stack into the loaf pan, but I didn’t want to have the leftover waste, so opted for rolling out the dough, spreading the filling, and then cutting into rectangles which are folded and stacked in. This process is super easy, and results in a fancy looking loaf that is fun to eat - you literally pull it apart and eat it layer by layer.

A few wee tips:

  • I used cooked spinach in this recipe - I just placed the spinach in a microwave safe bowl with a plate on top, then microwaved until it was wilted and reduced down. I then roughly chopped it, and set it over a sieve to drain out until I was ready to use it. Spinach contains loads of moisture, so you want to get most of this out before you use it so it doesn’t make your bread soggy.

  • The first rise for the bread can easily be done overnight.

  • I blended the filling using a stick blender - if you don’t want to do this step you can skip it, or you can use a food processor to do this too. It really helped to break down the spinach and make the filling easy to spread.

  • You may have a wee bit of filling left over depending on how thick you spread it - I stirred it into a pasta sauce and it was perfect!

  • I used a standard 1 pound loaf tin for this recipe - don’t worry if the pieces of dough look like they aren’t filling it up enough, as they rise they will take up the rest of the space.

  • This is best eaten the day it is made, but if you have leftovers, pop them in the microwave just for 30 seconds or so to refresh before eating.

 

 

Spinach, Feta, and Basil Pesto Pull-apart Bread

- Makes one loaf -

Bread Dough
180g whole milk, lukewarm
1 Tbsp Sugar
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
400g all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
1 tsp salt
60g (4 tbsp) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 egg, at room temperature

Filling
200g baby spinach leaves, washed, then wilted down, roughly chopped and drained (see notes)
130g feta cheese
2 Tbsp freshly grated parmesan cheese
Zest of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
1/4 cup Filippo Berio Original Basil Pesto
Salt and Pepper to taste

Egg wash - 1 egg whisked with 1 Tbsp water
Pretzel salt to finish (optional)

 

- PROCESS -

BREAD DOUGH

Place the lukewarm milk, 1 Tbsp of the sugar, and the yeast in a medium sized bowl, and stir to combine. Leave for 10-15 minutes, or until foamy.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, place the flour, pepper, and salt, and mix briefly to combine. 

Add the milk mixture, butter, and the egg to the dry ingredients, and mix on low for 2-3 minutes to bring the dough together. Increase the speed of the mixer to medium, and mix for a further 10-15 minutes, until the dough is soft, smooth, and elastic.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in a warm place until doubled in size, 45 minutes to an hour. 

 

FILLING AND ASSEMBLY

Place all of the filling ingredients in a medium bowl, and, using a stick blender, blend until smooth and homogenous. Alternatively you can do this in a food processor.

Heavily grease a loaf pan using butter. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface, and roll into a 12”X15” rectangle. Spread with a layer of the filling using an offset spatula to get it right to the edges. You may have a little left over. You are going to cut the dough into 9 rectangles, each 4”x5” in size, so, using a ruler and a pizza cutter or sharp knife, measure and cut the 12” side into 3 strips each 4” wide, then measure the 15” side and, making 3 cuts, cut the 3 strips into 9 rectangles, each 4x5”.

Starting with a short edge, fold each rectangle in half, and then line them up into your loaf tin, with the filling edge up and the folded edge down. Pack them loosely - do not worry too much about arranging them perfectly - as you can see from the photos, once it rises it sorts itself out!

Loosely cover the loaf tin with plastic wrap, and place in a warm spot to rise, 45 minutes to an hour, until the dough is puffy, and when pressed lightly with a finger, springs back slightly. While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 375˚f / 190˚c.

Brush the loaf with egg wash, taking care not to drag the filling onto the dough, and sprinkle with pretzel salt if desired.

Bake for 50-55 minutes, or until the dough is golden brown, and the internal temperature registers at 200˚f / 95˚c. Cool in the pan slightly, then remove carefully (you may need to run a knife around the edge), and cool on a wire rack. Best served warm on the same day it is baked.

Spinach, Feta and Basil pesto Pull-apart bread. This pull apart loaf is super easy to put together, while being very impressive at the same time! A simple dough is filled with a spinach, feta and basil pesto filling, then cut into rectangles and layered into a loaf tin for the perfect pull apart bread. #pullapartbread #basilpestobread #spinachloaf
Spinach, Feta and Basil pesto Pull-apart bread. This pull apart loaf is super easy to put together, while being very impressive at the same time! A simple dough is filled with a spinach, feta and basil pesto filling, then cut into rectangles and layered into a loaf tin for the perfect pull apart bread. #pullapartbread #basilpestobread #spinachloaf
Spinach, Feta and Basil pesto Pull-apart bread. This pull apart loaf is super easy to put together, while being very impressive at the same time! A simple dough is filled with a spinach, feta and basil pesto filling, then cut into rectangles and layered into a loaf tin for the perfect pull apart bread. #pullapartbread #basilpestobread #spinachloaf
Spinach, Feta and Basil pesto Pull-apart bread. This pull apart loaf is super easy to put together, while being very impressive at the same time! A simple dough is filled with a spinach, feta and basil pesto filling, then cut into rectangles and layered into a loaf tin for the perfect pull apart bread. #pullapartbread #basilpestobread #spinachloaf

Thank you so much to Filippo Berio for sponsoring this post and for having me in Portland! All opinions are my own.

Spinach, Feta, Red Pepper and Fennel Seed Scones


 
Spinach, Feta, Red Pepper, and Fennel Seed Scones. Perfect for a quick morning tea, a savory brunch option, or a light casual lunch.
Spinach, Feta, Red Pepper, and Fennel Seed Scones. Perfect for a quick morning tea, a savory brunch option, or a light casual lunch.
Spinach, Feta, Red Pepper, and Fennel Seed Scones. Perfect for a quick morning tea, a savory brunch option, or a light casual lunch.
Spinach, Feta, Red Pepper, and Fennel Seed Scones. Perfect for a quick morning tea, a savory brunch option, or a light casual lunch.
Spinach, Feta, Red Pepper, and Fennel Seed Scones. Perfect for a quick morning tea, a savory brunch option, or a light casual lunch.
Spinach, Feta, Red Pepper, and Fennel Seed Scones. Perfect for a quick morning tea, a savory brunch option, or a light casual lunch.
Spinach, Feta, Red Pepper, and Fennel Seed Scones. Perfect for a quick morning tea, a savory brunch option, or a light casual lunch.
Spinach, Feta, Red Pepper, and Fennel Seed Scones. Perfect for a quick morning tea, a savory brunch option, or a light casual lunch.
Spinach, Feta, Red Pepper, and Fennel Seed Scones. Perfect for a quick morning tea, a savory brunch option, or a light casual lunch.

 

One of the things that gets super confusing when you move countries is holidays. Christmas and New Year etc are always the same (mind you I got asked the other day if when it's July in America, if it's also July in NZ, so go figure), but things like Father's day etc are often at very different times. This leads to some frantic googling every now and then, just to make sure you haven't missed anything back home. I've found buying my diary from NZ helps with this too, but the internet still catches me out every now and then when I see all the Dad pics and then realise the dates are different. 

Just to make things more confusing, our Mother's day is the same as in the US. So I figured seeing as it's a worldwide celebration of sorts, I will add my contribution of food ideas to the internet. It seems as if 'Mother's day brunch' is a thing over here - for our Mum it was always just a cup of tea in bed with a piece of badly buttered toast, but brunch is always something that I can get behind. My own Mum is actually here in NYC with me right at this very second! She hasn't been here for close to four years, so I am having the best time showing her all of the things that have changed since she was last here. It's the best.

Scones for breakfast are one of my fave things! I grew up in a house where emergency scones were whipped up on the regular - our house was somewhat of a community train station with people popping in to say hi or to have a cup of tea all the time. Savoury scones are so under rated - you can add whatever you like to them, they come together fairly quickly, and are perfect to whip up in the morning for a morning tea or a light lunch. That goes for scones in general, but I do think that Savoury scones need a little more loving. 

I love the combination of Spinach, Feta, Red Pepper and Fennel seed, although it happens less than I would like around here, because I am married to a staunch cheese and bacon dude. However I figured these were too good not to share with you, and so Rich had to suck it up just this one time. The process for making these is very similar to regular scones, except you fry up all the delicious things first, leave them to cool slightly, then incorporate them in just before you add the milk. They are so delicious fresh out of the oven, but will be just as awesome the next day, warmed slightly and served with loads of good quality butter. Happy Scone-ing!

A few wee tips:

  • These are super versatile - feel free to play around with the fillings, but just be aware that you may have to adjust the amount of milk accordingly - for example if you left out the feta, you would need a little more milk to replace the moisture.
  • With that being said - you may need more or less milk depending on the water content of your feta, the size of your red pepper etc. I like to add most of the milk and give it a mix, then see if I need the rest, just to prevent them being too wet.
  • I find that freezing the butter in little cubes works best for me! Make sure that your scone contents are fairly cool before you add them to the flour and butter mixture, in order to reduce the amount of melting that happens. I either cool the mix in the pan, stirring frequently to release heat, or I spread into a shallow dish. 
  • These keep in an airtight container fairly well! They are best eaten fresh, but if you want to have them the next day too, send them for a spin in the microwave first. 
 

 

Spinach, Feta, Red Pepper, and Fennel Seed Scones

- Makes about 8 large scones -

2 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
1 medium red pepper (capscicum), diced
225g (8oz) feta cheese, crumbled
300g baby spinach, roughly chopped
Salt and Pepper to season
4 cups (600g) all-purpose flour
5 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 sticks butter, cut into small cubes and frozen for 10-15 min
1/2 cup (120ml) whole milk
Cream to brush

 

- PROCESS -

Preheat the oven to 400˚f / 200˚c. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 

In a non-stick skillet or frying pan, toast the fennel seeds over medium heat, moving constantly, until they are lightly toasted and beginning to smell fragrant. Remove and set aside. Return the skillet to the stove, and heat a little olive oil over high heat. 

Add the chopped onion, and cook for 2 minutes, stirring often. Add the red pepper, and cook for another 2 minutes, or until starting to soften. Add the spinach, and cook until wilted. Season the mixture well with salt and pepper. Remove the pan from the heat, and allow to cool for 15-20 minutes until cooled, or just warm. Add the crumbled feta and toasted fennel seeds. 

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder. Add the butter, and rub in with your fingertips until well combined, with a few lumps remaining. Add the cooled spinach and red pepper mixture, and stir gently to incorporate. Add most of the milk, and mix with your hands or a wooden spoon to combine. Add the remainder if required (This will vary on the size of your pepper etc) - the mixture should be wet enough that it sticks together, but not so wet that it is sticky and gloopy. 

Turn the mixture out onto a floured surface, and pat into a rectangle. Gently fold the top third of the dough down to two thirds of the way down, and then fold the bottom third on top of it - as if you were folding a letter. Pat the dough out into a rectangle again, turn the dough 90 degrees, and repeat the letter fold again. Repeat one more time, before patting out into a rectangle approx 2 inches thick.

Cut the dough into 8 even pieces. Lightly dust the bottoms with flour, and space evenly on the baking sheet. Brush the tops of the scones with cream or milk. 

Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the scones have risen, and have turned a light golden brown. Allow to cool on a wire rack before serving.

 

Spinach, Feta, Red Pepper, and Fennel Seed Scones. Perfect for a quick morning tea, a savory brunch option, or a light casual lunch.

Spinach, feta, mushroom and pesto filo triangles


 
Spinach, feta, mushroom and pesto filo triangles
Spinach, feta, mushroom and pesto filo triangles
Spinach, feta, mushroom and pesto filo triangles
Spinach, feta, mushroom and pesto filo triangles
Spinach, feta, mushroom and pesto filo triangles
Spinach, feta, mushroom and pesto filo triangles
Spinach, feta, mushroom and pesto filo triangles

People keep asking what I have planned for the fourth of July. I have to bite my tongue to stop myself from asking "when is it again?" which is a silly question, when really I mean "what day is it?" We don't really have anything planned at this stage - American holidays tend to creep up on us a little, because we aren't used to when they are. Which often makes for a surprise day off or extended weekend, which often ends up with us working anyway, because self employed life means that things like that happen. 

There is a possibility that we will be doing food with friends in a park somewhere. I take picnics and party food incredibly seriously, and will often end up going way, way overboard with whatever I am bringing, much to the delight of our friends. Let's watch that happen again. Every time - it's a classic me move. 

This year we will be adding these filo triangles to the repertoire. I have been making these as a main dish for a while now - they used to be our 'treat' dinner when I was living with a load of boys at university. One of my flatmates (housemates) used to work at a pizza place, and would fill up rubber gloves with the expensive ingredients we were too stingy to buy, so would come home with gloves filled with pine nuts and dried cranberries, and they would sometimes also get added to the mix. These filo triangles are a pared down version of this - filled with spinach, feta, mushroom and pesto, they would make a perfect fourth of July or summer party appetizer. They can be prepared ahead of time and reheated, or eaten at room temperature. 

Part of the reason I started this blog was to give an insight into how to make your own food from scratch. This was fueled by the frustration of moving from New Zealand, land of the fresh ingredients and well stocked supermarkets, to the middle of Brooklyn, and having a really tough time adjusting to the food. My coping mechanism was to just start making everything myself. Sauces, aioli, pastry, pasta, you name it, I worked out how to make it. Including pesto. Pesto was probably the one I struggled the most with - I can whip it up easily myself, but I just missed being able to grab a jar from the fridge to throw into things. The pesto in my supermarket was on the shelf, not the fridge section, and was mainly cheese with a faint whiff of basil. 

Enter pesto from Blue Moose. This stuff is insanely good, it tastes just like what I make at home, and it now has a permanent spot in our fridge. I put it through some serious paces and it passed all of the tests. I love it over pasta with roast tomatoes, as the base of a pizza, as a dipping sauce, and in appetizers such as these filo triangles. The never ending cycle of bringing home loads of basil, not getting around to making pesto in time then guiltily throwing out said basil has ended. 

These filo triangles are the perfect snack or party appetizer - they are a huge hit every time I make them (Rich has eaten every single one of them, and i've made them 3 days in a row). A simple mixture of onions, garlic, mushrooms and wilted spinach is cooked down in a pan. A container of pesto is then stirred through, followed by a healthy dose of feta. They are then wrapped up into little triangle shaped packages, brushed with oil and banged in the oven until flaky, golden and delicious. 

A few wee notes:

  • The size of your triangles will vary depending on the dimensions of your filo pastry. Mine was similar in size to an A4 piece of paper, so I divided it in half lengthways. If yours is a different dimension, feel free to change the size of the strips that you use - just make sure that you leave enough length to get enough rolls in so that the filling doesn't bust out the side.
  • If you change the size be aware this may also affect cooking time - adjust accordingly. They are done when the filo is golden brown and flaky. It will take less time than you expect!
  • I used frozen filo dough from the store - once you open it, place the pieces waiting to be used under a very slightly damp tea towel to ensure that they don't dry out before you get around to using them. 
  • I use olive oil in a mister bottle to spray between the layers, but butter or another oil works just as well too! 
  • I wilted the spinach in the microwave - if you don't have one you can steam instead before chopping.
 

 

Spinach, feta, mushroom and pesto filo triangles
- Makes approx. 16 -

1 lb (450g) spinach leaves, roughly chopped.
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb (450g) button or baby bella mushrooms, finely chopped
1 container (7 oz / 198g) Blue Moose pesto, plus more for dipping if desired
8oz (225g) feta cheese, finely chopped
1 lb (450g) frozen filo pastry, thawed
Additional olive oil for brushing
Salt and pepper
 

- PROCESS -

Preheat the oven to 400˚f / 200˚c. 

Place the spinach in a microwave safe bowl, and cover with a lid or plate. Microwave on high for 3 minutes. Squeeze out excess moisture, and turn out onto a chopping board. Chop finely. leave to cool while you prepare the rest of the filling.

Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan or skillet. Add the onion and garlic and a big pinch of salt. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring often, until the onions are translucent. Add the mushrooms and cook for a further 5-10 minutes, until mushrooms are collapsing, and the moisture they release has evaporated. Remove from the heat and allow to stand for 5 minutes to cool slightly. Add the chopped spinach, and mix well to incorporate. Stir through the pesto, followed by the feta. Leave to cool for 10 minutes or until cool enough to handle.

On a dry work surface, lay out one sheet of filo dough. Brush the surface lightly with olive oil or butter, and lay over a second piece. Repeat until you have three layers, keeping the unused dough underneath a damp towel to ensure that it does not dry out. Cut the dough into long rectangles approximately 3 inches wide and 12 inches long (if your dough is different dimensions you can adjust the size of your rectangles to suit). 

Place approx 2 Tbsp of the filling in the bottom left corner of the rectangle, and spread into a triangle shape. Carefully fold the dough diagonally to form a triangle. (see GIF for guidance). Continue folding over on itself up the length of the rectangle, tucking the last corner in. Place on a baking tray. Repeat until the filling has been used up. 

Brush the triangles lightly with oil. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden and flaky. Allow to cool slightly. Serve with additional Blue Moose pesto.

 
 

This post was sponsored by Blue Moose of Boulder, an awesome company in Colorado who makes amazing pestos, hummus and salsas. The products are made in small batches, with cold-pressure technology, which guarantees that you will have fresh, preservative free, awesome pesto that tastes like you made it at home, every time. All opinions are my own.