A couple weeks ago, I used my “perfect pizza crust” recipe to bake garlic knots, and there was no looking back: garlic knots are now a permanent fixture at pizza night.
Once you get used to preparing these at home, the store-bought variety just can’t compare. Instead of the traditional butter and garlic glaze, I coated these garlic knots with two layers of super-garlicky pesto: once before baking, to roast the garlic and melt the parmesan onto the crust, and again after the knots emerged from the oven, to add flavor and moisture.
1 1/2 cups warm water
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
3 1/2 cups flour
1 large bunch (around 3 cups) fresh basil, stems removed
8 cloves garlic
½ cup parmesan
½ cup olive oil
Salt and black pepper, to taste
⅓ cup walnuts
Prepare the dough: In a large mixing bowl, combine lukewarm water, sugar, and yeast. Stir gently to dissolve. Set aside in a warm place for about 15 minutes, until fluffy and bubbly.
Add olive oil, flour, and then salt (a tip I learned in culinary school: salt kills yeast, so it’s important that the salt not come into contact with the yeast directly; mix the salt into the flour before stirring all the ingredients together.)
Stir ingredients together until a dough begins to form. On a floured work surface or directly in the bowl, adding flour as needed, knead until smooth and elastic. The dough should spring back when touched
Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for at least two hours (if the dough starts to rise out of the bowl, gently push it down.)
Prepare the pesto: Cut garlic cloves into quarters, and place in the bowl of a food processor. (a mini food processor is fine.) Add basil leaves, olive oil, parmesan, salt, pepper, and walnuts. Process until smooth. Adjust seasonings if needed. Set aside until dough finishes rising.
Assemble and bake: Preheat oven to 475 degrees F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Cut dough into 26 even-sized pieces (if you prefer smaller garlic knots, feel free to increase the number of pieces.) On a lightly floured surface, roll each piece into a thin log and tie into a knot (see photo for steps.) Using a pastry brush or spoon, coat each knot with a thin layer of pesto. Set aside remaining pesto to coat knots when they have finished baking.
Bake for 10-15 minutes, until edges are golden brown. Set aside to cool for a few minutes, then brush with reserved pesto (this additional layer of pesto lends flavor and moisture.) Serve immediately. Place leftovers in aluminum foil or an airtight container, and store in the refrigerator.
Yields 26 garlic knots
Liana’s Kitchen is a column by Astoria-based chef and foodie Liana Grey. Check out her food blog Bakerwithoutborders.