Grabbing the Gusto

Deirdre Reid – Freelance Writer & Home Cook

Basil pesto, parsley, garlic and two kinds of cheese make this easy Basil Pesto and Garlic Breadstick Knots recipe absolutely irresistible.


I’m going “semi-homemade” on y’all today.

Even though I recently rediscovered my long lost love of bread baking, let’s be serious, you have to plan and make time for that type of thing. And sometimes my urges for herby, cheesy, garlicky bread come on strong and must be satisfied. Pronto!

I bought two cans of breadsticks to make some pepperoni knots for New Year’s Eve but realized we had enough bread on the table so I left the cans to languish in the back of the frig. Last week, when I made ham, beans and greens soup, I thought, aha, time for those knots. But I didn’t want pepperoni knots – pork overload. Instead, I defrosted some pesto and went in a new direction.

Dangerous little temptations, these knots. Don’t keep the pan too close to your plates or nearly half of them will be gone before you know it. Exhibit A, below.

Basil Pesto and Garlic Breadstick Knots | Grabbing the Gusto

Basil Pesto and Garlic Breadstick Knots | Grabbing the Gusto

Basil Pesto and Garlic Breadstick Knots

You’ll need an oven-safe skillet and/or pie dish, and a large bowl.

  • 1 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon or more olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 1/4 teaspoon (or more) red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 tablespoon basil pesto or chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1 can (11 ounces) breadsticks
  • 1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • Salt and pepper

Heat butter and oil in a skillet over low heat until the butter melts and foaming subsides. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Take off the heat. Stir in the parsley and pesto (or basil) until combined. Transfer the mixture to the bowl and stir in Parmesan cheese. Don’t wipe out the skillet if you’re using it to bake the knots – you want to preserve all that flavor.

Preheat oven to 375. Pop the can. Unroll and separate the dough into 12 breadsticks. Twist and tie each breadstick into a “knot-like” ball. Transfer them to the bowl with the garlic/herb/Parmesan mixture. Coat each knot thoroughly with the mixture. Transfer the knots to the skillet (or pie dish) in a single layer.

Scrape the remaining mixture evenly over the knots. Sprinkle them with Pecorino, salt and pepper. Bake 13 to 17 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm.

Inspired by: Italian Garlic Knots, Pillsbury


1 year ago on Gusto: Escarole with Prosciutto

2 years ago: Moussaka

3 years ago: Chipotle Salmon

4 years ago: Red Wine Braised Lamb Shanks with Roasted Root Vegetables and Creamy Polenta


2 thoughts on “Basil Pesto and Garlic Breadstick Knots

  1. Gregg Tate says:

    These look very good. Will make them next time we have Italian food instead of standard garlic bread!

  2. deirdrereid says:

    I will too — they’re so easy to make and full of much more flavor than the usual garlic bread. Imagine them with a bit of minced salami too!

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