We are ready to Spring forward and enjoy the warm weather promised for the weekend here in the Bay Area. Sun-dried tomato tapenade with homemade breadsticks can be served all year round but is particularly nice to share with friends over a warm weekend. I made a run to Whole Foods for the olive oil marinated sun-dried tomatoes, a chunk of good Parmesan cheese and an aged reserve sherry vinegar. The rest of the tapenade ingredients were either in my pantry or in the herb garden, which is showing definite signs of new growth. Homemade tapenade makes a quick appetizer-the breadsticks take a bit of planning and time to prepare but are worth the effort to dip into the tapenade. A good alternative to the breadsticks with the tapenade would be crackers or toasted slices of baguette.
My Cuisinart broke a few weeks ago after about 20 years of loyal service, so I can’t complain. I replaced it this week which means the new one came with a pamphlet type instruction booklet filled with recipes. While perusing the instructions and recipes I found this sun-dried tomato tapenade recipe. I like the way the recipes all contain different food processor techniques that are handy to learn about your brand spanking new Cuisinart, like making a soft grated cheese by adding small pieces of Parmesan to the already running machine using the metal blade. Always nice to pick up a new technique and save time in the kitchen.
I thought about making foccacia or crackers to go with my tapenade but I ordered an Italian style flour from King Arthur’s Flour that I’ve been wanting to use for a breadstick recipe from Gina DePalma’s cookbook Dolce Italiano, which has quite a few savory recipes too. This is the recipe for the breadsticks they serve at the Babbo Bar which is one of our favorite restaurants in New York, If you have a chance to try Mario Batali’s Babbo restaurant- don’t pass it up! I added fresh rosemary with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano to the dough before rising and sprinkled on extra cheese after shaping the breadsticks before baking.
Italian style flour or “oo” flour is the finest and whitest flour commonly used in Italy, similar to a light powder in texture. The protein content is close to all purpose flour and they can be used interchangeably. The “oo” flour gives pizza crust, biscotti, cookies, cakes and other baked goods a firm but fine crumb. I used the King Arthur’s Italian style flour blended with all-purpose flour in my breadsticks, but 100% all-purpose can also be used.
I followed the directions for baking the breadsticks on olive oil brushed parchment paper but my breadsticks weren’t brown or crisp enough for my taste. So after they were done I put them back in the oven directly on the metal baking sheets until they were browned, which takes a few more minutes.
Recipe for Sun-Dried Tapenade adapted from Cuisinart. Rosemary Parmesan Breadsticks from Gina DePalma Dolce Italiano desserts from The Babbo Kitchen.
- For the Sun-Dried Tomato Tapenade
- 4 ounces sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil
- 2 ounces Reggiano Parmigiano, cut into 1/2" pieces
- 1 garlic clove, peeled
- 1 small shallot, peeled
- 3 tablespoons fresh herbs, I used tarragon, parsley and rosemary
- 1/3 cup toasted walnut halves
- 1 tablespoon aged sherry vinegar
- freshly ground black pepper and sea salt to taste
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- For the Rosemary Parmesan Breadsticks
- 1/3 cup warm water
- 1 package active dry yeast
- Pinch of sugar
- 2 cups all purpose flour, plus more for kneading
- 1 cup "oo" flour, see note on post
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed Aleppo Chili, or 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 cup cold water
- 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing on baking pans and breadsticks
- 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus extra for garnish
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
- Sea salt to sprinkle on breadsticks, for garnish
- To Make the Sun-Dried Tomato Tapenade in a food processor
- Insert the metal blade and with the machine running drop the cheese down the feed tube.
- Process to chop, about 10 seconds, remove and set aside.
- With the machine running, drop the garlic and the shallot down the feed tube, process about 5 seconds to finely chop.
- Add the tomatoes, fresh herbs and walnuts, pulse to chop, about 10 times.
- Add the vinegar, pepper and salt, pulse to combine, about 5 seconds.
- With the machine running, add the olive oil in a steady stream, about 30 seconds.
- Add the grated cheese and pulse to combine, about 5 times.
- Allow to rest for about 30 minutes for the flavors to blend, transfer to a glass jar with lid to refrigerate until ready to use.
- Keeps for 2 weeks in the fridge, it won't last that long!
- To Make the Rosemary Parmesan Breadsticks
- Place the warm water in a small bowl and sprinkle the dry yeast over it. Add a pinch of sugar and gently stir to dissolve, let proof for 5-7 minutes.
- In the bowl of a standing electric mixer combine both the flours with the salt and chili spice.
- When the yeast is foamy add it to a well in the center of the flour mixture along with the cold water.
- Attach the dough hook and knead the ingredients on medium speed for 2 minutes, the dough will become smooth.
- Stop the mixer and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1/2 cup grated cheese and butter-continue kneading on medium speed for another 2-3 minutes.
- The dough should pull away from the sides of the bowl and be smooth.
- Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead by hand for about a minute, the dough should be smooth and elastic.
- Place the dough in a clean and lightly oiled large size bowl, turn it once to coat, cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm, draft free place to rise until double in volume, about 1&1/2 hours.
- The dough can be refrigerated at this point overnight in a sealed container large enough to accommodate the dough when it has doubled in size. (Remove the dough from the fridge and bring to room temperature before forming the breadsticks)
- Preheat the oven to 375F.
- Prepare 2 large baking sheets by lining them with parchment paper and brushing with olive oil.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and divide into 4 pieces.
- Cover the pieces of dough while working with 1 piece at a time.
- Cut the first piece into 8 equal portions and roll into long skinny breadsticks, about 14" long.
- Use your fingers with light pressure to roll and gently stretch the dough into the long pieces.
- Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough, you should have 32 breadsticks with 16 on each baking sheet, brush with olive oil and additional grated Parmesan if desired.
- Bake the breadsticks for 14-16 minutes, rotate the baking sheets half way through.
- The breadsticks are done when they are light golden brown.
- Place on rack to cool.
- Breadsticks can be reheated before serving on metal baking sheets, they will become darker and crisper when reheated in hot oven 400F for a few minutes.
- Break into pieces and serve with sun-dried tomato tapenade.
- Leftover breadsticks should be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days.