Week 19: Pesto Challah

forgot to take an "after" shot, but here's the pesto dough, post-first rise, after deflation

Pesto… Mmmm… Conjures up images of the good kind of Italian restaurants — the kinds that give a pesto concoction to dip bread into rather than marinara.  The goal this week was to create a challah that would take you back to those magical days before calorie and carb counting were on your radar, and you could actually enjoy a trip to an Italian restaurant (Fettuccine Alfredo Challah would be the appropriate accompaniment on that fantasy). The first challenge I faced was finding pareve (non-dairy) pesto, since we want to keep these challahs as “shabbat dinner-friendly” as possible.  Pesto is expensive enough as it so… Trying to find a Kosher, pareve version would be the financial ruin of this hobby.  So, I did as any resourceful wannabe chef would do —  I looked up a pesto recipe and cut out the cheese.  I made the pesto out of fresh basil, olive oil, garlic and walnuts (pine nuts were also crazy expensive).  Put them all in a cup and took the hand blender to them. Pesto Challah, simply put, is the normal challah recipe with around eight heaping tablespoons of non-dairy, homemade pesto!  That’s it! Such a simple recipe… such simple elegance.  As I ate it, I could picture the Chianti bottle with the candle sticking out the top.  It was like dipping challah in a smooth and rich pesto sauce.  Not overpowering, but also not as understated as some of the other flavors I’ve made.  Non c’è male!

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