Courgette, Goats Cheese and Garden Herb Pesto Bread
I use a Thermomix to make my bread dough and it works brilliantly. When I do cookery demonstrations, I normally make the basic bread recipe in the Thermomix, as it only takes 1½ minutes to knead and this guarantees a lot of jaw-dropping by my clients. It also enables me to be more adventurous with what I then do with the bread dough. This recipe is a very good example of just that, as it leaves me with plenty of time to make a tasty garden herb and courgette pesto to form the delicious centre for my bread.
When you serve this loaf, I suggest you place the whole loaf on the table so that everyone can dive in and tear, share and eat. That’s my way of enjoying food and I always think food tastes better when eaten with your hands.
Feel free to make this recipe your own though. If you do not have herbs in the garden, then choose a single herb that you like and buy just the one, as herbs are expensive. I also recommend that you just use cheese that you already have in your fridge. We love cooking ‘fridge specials’ and find it’s a great way to experiment and to find out what works and what doesn’t.
Cooking is an act of love for us and there is nothing more rewarding than when you stand in front of a nearly empty fridge staring at a few courgettes, some goat’s cheese, a bit of fresh yeast and a few other half-used bits and bobs, and then you produce something as delicious as this. That’s our sort of cooking!
Ingredients & Method
For the Bread Dough
- 400g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
- 15g fresh yeast, crumbled
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 200ml tepid water
- 40ml extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for greasing and brushing
- 100g Garden Herb and Courgette Pesto (see below)
- 100g soft goat's cheese
For the Garden Herb and Courgette Pesto
- 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 small onion, finely diced
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 200g (prepared weight) courgettes, trimmed and coarsely grated
- 30g pine nuts, toasted and cooled
- 20g golden linseeds
- 40g mixed fresh garden herbs (such as mint, lemon thyme, parsley, basil and oregano), leaves only (stalks removed)
- 30g fresh baby or standard spinach leaves, trimmed
- juice of 1 lemon
- 30g fresh Parmesan cheese, finely grated
- sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
First prepare the bread dough. Weigh the flour and yeast directly into the Thermomix bowl using the built-in weighing scales, then add the rosemary and salt. Blend for 30 seconds on speed 8. Add the water and oil, then blend for a further 30 seconds on speed 8. Scrape the sides down, set the timer to 1 minute 30 seconds and press the Dough button.
Lightly grease a bowl. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, gently shape it into a smooth ball, then place the dough ball in the greased bowl. Cover the bowl with a clean dry tea towel or cling film and leave the dough to prove (rise) in a warm place until doubled in size, about 40–60 minutes.
In the meantime, make the pesto. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a non-stick frying pan and sauté the onion and garlic, with some salt and pepper added, for 4–5 minutes or until golden. Add the courgettes, pine nuts and linseeds and sauté for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.
Place the herbs, spinach, lemon juice, Parmesan and the remaining 3 tablespoons oil in the cleaned Thermomix bowl and blend to make a coarse paste. Add the cooled onion mixture, pulse a couple of times, then taste and adjust the seasoning if needed. Set aside to let the flavours develop for about 20 minutes. (Transfer any leftover pesto to a covered jar or an airtight container and store in the fridge – see Cook’s Notes.)
Grease an 18cm or 20cm springform tin and lightly dust it with flour. Carefully turn the risen dough onto a lightly floured work surface and gently knock it back, then either flatten it using your fingertips or very lightly roll it with a rolling pin into a rectangle about 15mm thick.
Spread the measured pesto evenly over the dough, leaving a small border around the edge, then crumble the goat’s cheese evenly over the top. From a long side, roll up the dough into a spiral (like a Swiss roll) and then cut it crossways into 6 even, thick slices. Place the spirals, cut-side up, in the prepared tin (they’ll be quite snug), then cover with a clean dry tea towel or cling film and leave to prove again in a warm place for about 20 minutes or until doubled in size. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas Mark 4.
Bake the bread in the oven for 40–50 minutes or until it is cooked and golden brown. Remove from the oven and let the bread cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then carefully turn it out and transfer to a wire rack. Brush the top with olive oil. Serve warm or cold.
To serve, place the bread on a board and serve it whole (see Cook’s Notes). Allow everyone to tear, share and eat. Enjoy!
Store the leftover pesto in a covered jar or an airtight container (pour a thin layer of extra virgin olive oil on top of the pesto, before you cover the jar/container) in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Stir the leftover pesto into tomato soup or serve it tossed through warm pasta.
Serve the pesto bread on its own or with soup or an antipasto platter (of cold meats, cheese and pickles) as a starter, light lunch, snack or supper. Alternatively, serve the bread as an accompaniment to a main course, such as tagliatelle with sautéed courgettes and fresh herbs.