Do you know that feeling when you have guests over and you can tell that they just really love the food you made? How you get all warm and fuzzy and proud of yourself? Or you go to a potluck and while many dishes are half leftover at the end of the night but you get the secret satisfaction that the dish you brought was eaten up completely? That is the feeling you get when you make this ah-mazing pesto cheesy pull apart bread (better known in some circles as crack bread!)
I have seen a lot of garlic versions of this bread around but we’re big pesto fans around these parts so I prefer mine with pesto most of the time. The key to making this bread amazing is choosing a stiff, crusty bread and a very melty cheese like mozzerella or quesadilla melting cheese. For this version I grabbed two small French round loaves as my bakery had slim pickings and they were the crustiest thing I could find…usually I like sourdough.
Use a bread knife to cut the bread into a crosshatched pattern being sure not to cut all the way through the bottom so the slices don’t separate completely. Over the years I’ve found that the easiest way to keep the loaf intact while doing this (especially on these smaller loaves) is to cut horizontally once, then vertically, and so on alternating. I can usually keep it all together that way whereas if I cut all the vertical slices then go back and cut all the horizontal ones I usually have a chunk or two tear off. If that happens, it’s no big deal, just plop it back where it was and no one will be the wiser!
Now the fun part comes in-the filling! I like to use homemade pesto (here is my recipe that I learned while living in Italy) but for store bought pesto my all time favorite is the Bertolli brand that’s found in the refrigerated section-that stuff is about as close to my homemade as I’ve found!
Liberally add the pesto in between the slices with a butter knife, being sure to get all the way down the bread. Don’t be stingy-you want to coat the bread!
Next you’ll stuff the bread with cheese. I used a Mexican melting cheese intended for quesadillas but mozzerella is a great one to use too because it melts well. I use the butterknife to gently separate the bread slices so I can stuff the cheese in. Again-don’t be shy with the cheese, the more the better!!
Then you just wrap it up in foil and pop it in a 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes! It’s best served immediately but if you can’t eat it right away you can refrigerate it and microwave just before serving.
I’m telling you, you should have seen my boys devour this bread (they love pesto just as much as I do!) Plus they loved pulling the strings of melted cheese and seeing who could stretch theirs the longest!
Have you tried a pull apart bread recipe yet? What is your favorite variation? Any versions you’d like to see on the blog soon?
- 2 small or 1 large crusty loaf bread
- 1 cup basil pesto
- 1.5 cups shredded mozzarella or Mexican melting cheese
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Slice bread into a cross-hatched pattern.
- Liberally spread pesto in between the slices of bread, being sure to get coat the interior.
- Gently push cheese down into the slices.
- Wrap bread in foil and bake for 15 minutes.
- Serve immediately or refrigerate and microwave prior to serving.