Everyday Food (April 2011)
When you have guests over for dinner -- or any get-together, really -- it's always nice to have some snacks for them to nibble on. After all, depending on how the cooking is going, you may have some time to kill. We've served more than our fare share of late dinners while entertaining, so we're always sure to have some sort of snack on hand in case, you know, dinner actually ends up being served at 9 p.m.
And while crudités, crostini and a bowl of nuts are great, they can get a little tiresome, so it's always good to have a few other tricks up your sleeve. We love to serve something that's easy to make but also impressive on the plate, like pinwheels: pre-made dough filled with flavors of your choosing, rolled up, sliced and baked.
For our book club meeting last week (where we also served Bagna Cauda Dip with Assorted Vegetables), we wanted something simple and tasty, so we were happy to see these Garlic-Herb Pinwheels in Everyday Food. And they inspired us to try our own version -- a Harissa-Sausage Pinwheel.
The notion of pinwheels wasn't entirely new to us -- Zach's mom, B., has had made them for years, although she uses rolled-out crescent roll dough instead of the puff pastry sheets that are recommended here.
B.'s pinwheels are filled with sausage and are strictly a breakfast affair. That version got us thinking about how we could do our own spin on these Garlic-Herb Pinwheels. We had some harissa in the fridge, which we thought would make a great compliment to some pork sausage we also had on hand. (If you're not familiar with harissa, it's a spicy, hot Tunisian chili paste. We can reliably find it in the international aisle of our local Harris Teeter.) Also, we really liked the idea of doing a veggie pinwheel as well as a meat version.
As for prep, there's basically nothing to say here: Spread your ingredients on your puff pastry, roll it up, slice it into discs, and bake. Couldn't be simpler!
One tip to avoid a pitfall in making Pinwheels: If your dough gets too warm by the time you've rolled it up, it will be harder to slice into discs. If that becomes a problem, stick the rolled-up log into the freezer for 10 minutes, and then slice it. That time will allow the log to firm up enough that it will be easy to slice.
The results for both the Garlic-Herb Pinwheels and our Harissa-Sausage Pinwheels were great! Crisp, golden pastry with either aromatic herbs or spicy sausage. Our guests gobbled them up!
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a small bowl, combine 1/3 cup chopped mixed fresh herbs, such as parsley, chives and mint, 2 garlic cloves, minced, and 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil. Season with coarse salt and ground pepper. On a lightly floured work surface, unfold 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed. Spread pastry with herb mixture and roll up. With a sharp knife, cut into 1/4-inch rounds. Arrange rounds on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake until puffed and golden on edges, 15 minutes. Let cool on sheet on a wire rack, 10 minutes. (Store in an airtight container, up to 3 days.)
The Bitten Word's Harissa-Sausage Pinwheels
Adapted from Everyday Food
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a lightly floured work surface, unfold 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed. Spread with 1/3 pound mild pork sausage, top with 2 tablespoons harissa, and 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley. Roll pastry up into log. With a sharp knife, cut into 1/4-inch rounds. Arrange rounds on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake until sausage is cooked and pastry is puffed and golden on edges, about 18-20 minutes. Let cool on sheet on a wire rack, 10 minutes. (Store in an airtight container, up to 3 days.)