1 17.3-ounce box puff pastry sheets (2 sheets)
½ cup walnuts
1 ½ cups baby spinach
2 teaspoons chopped fresh garlic
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
¼ cup freshly grated Romano cheese
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly grated black pepper
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup roasted red bell pepper, chopped
¼ pound sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 egg beaten with one teaspoon of water
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F with two racks in upper quadrant of oven.
Thaw out pastry sheets if frozen and lay out end to end on a large cutting board. On one end, dab a little water across the edge then pull the edge of the second piece over and stick to the wet edge. Press to seal. You now have one 18-inch-long sheet.
In a small saute pan place walnuts and over medium heat toast to light brown, about five minutes. Cool and add to the bowl of a food processor.
Add spinach, garlic, Parmesan, Romano, salt and pepper and hit the power button.
Slowly pour the oil in through the top spout with the motor running until a thick paste forms. (Normal pesto would use twice the amount of oil but in this recipe, the amount of oil is reduced to produce a thick spreadable pesto.)
Spread this pesto across the pastry surface leaving about a half inch along one long side open.
Sprinkle the chopped red roasted pepper across the surface of the pesto.
Sprinkle the cheese across the surface over the peppers and pesto.
With your fingers, dab a little water along the open edge.
Start opposite the open edge and begin rolling, ending on the open edge, seam down.
With a sharp knife, cut the roll in half, yielding two 9” logs. Cut each log in half yielding four 4 ½ inch logs.
Three logs will be cut into five slices and one log cut into four slices. Start by marking the tops using a ruler to get even cuts then slice through. The last log slice into four. You will have 19 pieces.
Cover two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
On one, start building a pyramid shape using ten pieces that were cut five to a log, cut side down. (one at top, then two, three and four on bottom.)
On the second pan, turn the pan sideways and build the bottom of the tree using five across, again using the pieces that were cut five to a log, and then the four larger cut pieces for the trunk – two on top of two.
Each slice should be about a half inch from the next one to make room for expansion as they bake.
Beat the egg with the water and brush the tops of each cut, being careful not to let the egg drip down to the parchment lined pan.
Place in the oven and bake for 18-22 minutes or until golden and puffy. Rotate pans between racks half way through.
To serve, combine top shape with bottom shape to form a Christmas tree. This is simply a serving idea however, and can be baked and displayed in any shape you want. For example, you could bake these together in ovals to look like footballs, or the shape of a star, etc., or simply baked on two sheets and layered on a platter for serving.
Keywords: spinach pesto pinwheels