Want to serve your holiday guests the best homemade dinner roll ever? Make these vegan sun-dried tomato Parmesan garlic knots, inspired by Blissful Basil.
Soft, pillowy, and deliciously laden with scrumptious flavor, these knots are unexpectedly vegan. Made with mashed potatoes and spelt flour, a finely ground ancient grain, these dairy- and egg-free knots are festively flecked with red sun-dried tomatoes, generously brushed with a garlic and parsley infused olive oil, and topped with a tasty walnut Parmesan.
Wait a minute! How can these holiday dinner rolls be vegan if they have Parmesan cheese, you ask? The walnut Parmesan topping only tastes and looks like cheese. It is actually an ingenious combination of walnuts, nutritional yeast flakes, and a pinch of sea salt that is finely chopped in a food processor until the texture looks like Parmesan cheese. The cheesy flavor comes from the nutritional yeast, a vegetarian and vegan dietary supplement that gives dairy-free eaters a cheese-flavored fix.
Patience is the secret ingredient for these addictive dinner rolls. Because this is a yeast-risen bread roll recipe, plan enough time for the dough to rise twice — about 1-1/2 hours total — and for cutting and shaping the finished dough into knots. Good news: The baking time is only 10 to 12 minutes. Once you hear the oohs and aahs of your holiday guests when they take bite after bite, you’ll know the wait was worth it.
Potatoes give the bread knots a light airy texture and lovely moistness that everyone wants to nibble with abandon. Place the potatoes in a saucepan with water at the bottom of the pan. Make sure the water is below the steamer basket. Steam for 30 minutes or until the potatoes are fork tender.
Proof the yeast
In a small bowl, whisk together warm water (110F), maple syrup, and yeast. Let the mixture stand for 5 minutes or until bubbles develop. This proves the yeast is alive and ready to give rise to your bread knots. Note: If no foam forms, the yeast is dead and needs to be discarded and replaced with new active yeast.
Make the bread knot dough
A food processor saves time and energy in making a bread knot dough. Place the steamed potato in the food processor and puree, occasionally scraping down the sides of the bowl between pulses. Add yeast mixture, spelt flour, sun-dried tomatoes, 1 tablespoon olive oil, thyme, and 3/4 teaspoon salt. Pulse the processor 5 times then process for 15 seconds to bring the mixture into a dough ball. If the dough is too wet, add flour 1/4 cup at a time OR if the dough is too dry, add warm water 2 tablespoons at a time, until the dough becomes a shaggy, soft ball.
Knead the dough
Dump the dough onto a generously spelt-floured surface and knead it until it is springy and smooth, about 1-1/2 to 2-1/2 minutes. Add more flour, if needed. The dough is ready when it holds its shape and springs back when pressed. Note: Mix just until the dough barely springs back because the gluten in spelt flour is more delicate than wheat flour. If you overmix, you’ll end up with crumbly bread knots.
Let the dough rise
Shape the dough into a ball and place it in an oiled bowl, flipping it over to lightly coat the dough with the olive oil in the bowl. Cover the bowl with a towel and set it in a warm, dry place. Let it rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Prepare the walnut Parmesan topping
Nutritional yeast is a vegan and vegetarian dietary supplement that has a yummy cheesy flavor. Blending it with walnuts and a little salt gives it a flavor similar to real Parmesan cheese. In a food processor, combine walnuts, nutritional yeast flakes, and a pinch of sea salt, then pulse 10 times or until the nuts are ground into a texture that resembles Parmesan cheese.
Shape the knots
Punch the dough down to release gas bubbles that formed from the yeast. This step helps produce a finer grain in the knots. Turn the dough onto a generously spelt-floured surface. Evenly divide the dough into three pieces and knead each piece briefly. Roll each piece out into a 5×10-inch rectangle. Slice each rectangle into five 2-1/2-inch strips. Roll each strip into a rope. Shape each rope into a knot, tucking in loose ends, placing the knots on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Brush the knots with olive oil and cover
Brush the knots with olive oil and cover them with a sheet of parchment paper. Let the knots rise a second time in a warm place for 30 minutes or until they have doubled in size.
Make a garlic parsley oil
Brushing the knots with an olive oil infused with garlic and parsley gives them an extra layer of fabulous flavor. To make the infused olive oil, combine 6 tablespoons of olive oil, garlic, parsley, and 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt in a small pan over low heat. Simmer a couple of minutes or just until the garlic softens. Set the fragrant oil aside.
Bake the knots
Place the baking sheet of knots on the middle rack in the oven. Bake at 375F for 10 to 12 minutes or until they begin to turn golden brown. Transfer the baking sheet to a cooling rack to cool for 5 minutes.
Brush with infused oil and sprinkle with walnut Parmesan topping
With a pastry brush, brush the knots with the garlic parsley oil, then sprinkle the knots with the walnut Parmesan topping. Serve warm.
Deliciously full of flavor
You’d have no idea they are vegan!
A unique option to typical dinner rolls
Just gorgeous stacked high in a basket on the table
3-1/4 cups whole spelt flour, plus more as needed and for dusting
2 ounces sun-dried tomatoes (not in oil), finely chopped
8 tablespoons olive oil, divided, 1 tablespoon, 1 tablespoon, and 6 tablespoons, plus extra for brushing
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1-1/4 teaspoons sea salt, divided 3/4 teaspoon and 3/4 teaspoon
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/3 cup minced Italian parsley
1-3/4 ounces walnuts, toasted
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
Place potatoes in a saucepan of water with a steamer basket. Steam for 30 minutes, or until tender. Set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk together warm water at 110F, maple syrup, and yeast. Allow to stand for 5 minutes, or until a bubbly foam develops on the surface.
Lightly grease a large glass mixing bowl with olive oil. Set aside.
Add steamed potatoes to a food processor and process for 1 minute or until puréed. Occasionally scrape down the sides of the bowl between pulses.
Place following items into the potato mixture in food processor: yeast mixture, spelt flour, sun-dried tomatoes, 1 tablespoon olive oil, thyme, and 3/4 teaspoon sea salt.
Pulse food processor 5 times, and then process for 15 seconds, or until dough begins to roll into a loosely formed ball. Dough should be soft, sticky, slightly shaggy, and pulled together in a soft ball on the side of the food processor. Note: If it's too wet, add more spelt flour, 1/4 cup at a time, and pulse until desired texture. Alternatively, if it is too dry or dense, add more warm water, 2 tablespoons at a time, and pulse until desired texture.
Remove dough from food processor and place it on a work surface that has been generously dusted with spelt flour.
Knead dough for 1-1/2 to 2-1/2 minutes, or until smooth and springy, adding more spelt flour as needed (up to 1/4 cup). Dough is ready when it begins to hold its shape and springs back, slightly but not completely, when pressed. Note: The gluten in spelt flour is more delicate than regular flour, so be careful not to over-knead or you’ll end up with dry, crumbly rolls.
Shape dough into a ball and place it in oiled bowl. Cover bowl with a clean kitchen towel and allow it to rise in a warm place for 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
Prepare the walnut Parmesan. Add walnuts, nutritional yeast flakes, and a pinch of sea salt to a small food processor and pulse about 10 times, or until nuts are ground into a texture that resembles coarsely grated Parmesan cheese. Do not overprocess to dust.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Punch down dough and turn it out onto a clean, generously floured work surface. Divide dough into 3 equal pieces and knead each piece for just a few seconds. Roll each piece out into a rectangle that is approximately 5 inches wide by 10 inches long.
Slice each rectangle widthwise into five 2-inch-thick strips. One at a time, roll each strip into a rope, and gently tie it in a knot, tucking in any loose ends. Place knots on prepared baking sheet.
Lightly brush tops of the knots with olive oil and loosely cover with parchment paper or plastic wrap. Allow knots to rise in a warm place for another 30 minutes, or until doubled in size.
Heat remaining 6 tablespoons of olive oil, garlic, parsley, and 1/2 teaspoon sea salt in a small pan over low heat. Simmer for 2 to 3 minutes or until garlic softens. Set garlic parsley oil aside.
Preheat oven to 375F.
Place baking sheet of knots on middle rack of the oven and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until knots just begin to turn golden on top.
Transfer baking sheet to an oven-safe cooling rack and cool for 5 minutes.
Brush knots with garlic parsley oil then sprinkle with walnut Parmesan topping.
Note: Use a kitchen scale to measure and ensure the potatoes measures exactly 212 grams.