pesto knots

I remember when, as a child growing up in Northern New Jersey, I first discovered garlic knots. I was introduced to them by my neighbors who ordered them at a local pizza place, and my young mind was truly blown. Fluffy dough tied in a knot, slathered in olive oil and tons of aromatic garlic, baked to golden perfection, and topped with parsley and parmesan was an ideal situation.

Years later, I now realize that the toppings for garlic knots are among the ingredients for pesto, so I set off to make these sourdough kale pesto knots, as a sort of homage to garlic knots.

Kale is a reliable base for pesto when you want to maximize your green intake and flavor it to your liking. This kale pesto is filled with classic toasted pine nuts, parmesan cheese, and plenty of olive oil. Sourdough kale pesto knots are rolled, twisted, and knotted into sweet little buns packed with a magnitude of savory, cheesy, nutty flavor. 


for the dough

  • ¼ cup sourdough starter (100% hydration)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3 tablespoons neutral oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons milk, cream, or half & half
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

for the kale pesto

  • 2 cups kale
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ pine nuts, toasted
  • ¼ cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

dough steps

The night before you plan to bake your knots, place the sourdough starter, sugar, and oil in a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle, and mix on medium speed to combine. Add in the eggs one at a time, then add in the milk and mix until all is incorporated. Switch to the dough hook and slowly add in the flour and salt. Mix for 3-5 minutes on medium-high speed until the dough is smooth. (You can of course do all of this by hand as well).

Coat a large bowl with neutral oil, swirl the dough around then flip it and cover in plastic wrap. Let sit 10-12 hours overnight until it is doubled. The longer the dough sits, the more developed the flavor will be. 

kale pesto steps

Place the kale, salt, and pepper in a food processor, and blend for about 2 minutes until finely chopped. Add the pine nuts and pulse. Add the parmesan cheese and pulse more, then slowly add the olive oil, one tablespoon at a time until all the ingredients are combined and the pesto is smooth. Alternatively, you can do this by hand using a mortar and pestle.

assembly and baking steps

Roll the dough out into a large rectangle and spread the pesto in an even layer over the dough. Cut the dough into 12-16 pieces depending on the size you would like your knots to be. Working with one piece at a time, roll it up from the long end of the dough in the direction away from you then tie it into a knot and twist and tuck the ends underneath. Place each knot in a cookie sheet and sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Bake for 23-25 minutes until the cheese and crust are both golden.