When in Vodice, Croatia, each morning was spent in the kitchen of Luka’s restaurant working beside him preparing various culinary treats for the day. It was the Orehnjača (nut roll), though, that I found the most delightful. The heady yeast dough, surrounding a honey sweet filling created the most incredible aroma as it baked.
I was determined to recreate an Orehnjača similar to Luka’s. However, there was just one concern. Unless I wanted to bake twelve nut roll each time, which is the number produced on a daily basis by Luka, I needed to adapt many of his methods and ingredients. Through much experimentation (to the delight of friends and family), I eventually decreased the amount to six. I simply could not keep the ratios of ingredients consistent if I attempted to go below the six nut roll.
While I definitely was able to find eager recipients of any nut rolls I produced, there those simply those times my schedule could only accommodate the creation of two nut rolls. The question then became what to do with the remaining dough; and placing it in the trash was not an option.
Which brings me to What’s in the Pantry Stuffed Dinner Rolls. Initially, I simply created various shaped dinner rolls with the remaining dough. While these were delicious rolls, why settle for just delicious when you can achieve fabulous. The idea to stuff them came as I was snacking on olives while forming the dough into shapes. I wondered what would happen if I placed an olive or two inside; and if I was going to place olives inside, why not add a bit of cheese.
Once tested, I was literally off and rolling. Anything and everything in my pantry or refrigerator was a potential ingredient and, generally, a combination of several ingredients. The majority of the time, the results were spectacular. Although, I highly recommend eliminating pickles of any type as a filler.
Since the dough refrigerates well, these rolls can be prepared shortly before dinner or over the course of several days.
The recipe here combines olives with feta cheese and sun dried tomatoes with Parmigiano-Reggiano. The combinations are really endless, though. The rolls can be savory such as here or they can become sweet rolls by using fresh or dried fruits with various spices and sprinkling with powdered sugar after the melted butter brush post baking.
Since the dough refrigerates well, these rolls can be prepared shortly before dinner or over the course of several days. This also means the rolls do not need to be created the same day as the nut roll.
The recipe here combines olives with feta cheese and sun dried tomatoes with Parmigiano-Reggiano. The combinations are really endless, though. The rolls may be savory such as here or they may become sweet rolls by using fresh or dried fruits with various spices and sprinkling with powdered sugar after the melted butter brush post baking. (Hint, think dark chocolate and orange zest with a dusting of powdered sugar. Fabulous!)
Ensure the olives and tomatoes are well drained to prevent the rolls from being soggy inside.
Brushing the rolls with melted butter immediately after they are baked and sprinkling with the garlic powder and paprika, provides an additional flavor tier.
Two-Thirds Karlovac Orehnjača (Croatian Nut Roll) dough (use remaining to make two Orehnjača)
36 pitted olives of choice, well drained
3 T feta cheese crumbles
½ c chopped sun dried tomatoes, well drained
¼ c shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano
¼ c unsalted butter, melted
1 t garlic powder
1 t paprika
Once dough has completed rising, punch down and divide into thirds. (One third is reserved for Orejhjača) With remaining two thirds, divide into 24 dough balls.
With 12 of the dough balls, divide each ball into 3 pieces resulting in 36 small balls. Flatten each and place a small piece of feta cheese and one olive in the center. Wrap the dough around cheese and olive. Set aside.
With the remaining 12 dough balls, divide each in half resulting in 24 dough balls. Flatten each and place a teaspoon chopped sundried tomatoes. Top with ½ teaspoon parmesan cheese. Wrap the dough around the cheese and tomatoes. Set aside.
Spray two 12 cup muffin pans with cooking oil. Place 3 of the olive dough balls in a cup. Place two tomato dough balls in a cup. Repeat until all dough is used. Cover with a tea towel and set aside to rise for 30 minutes. (Rolls may be covered with plastic wrap and placed in refrigerator for several hours. When ready to prepare, remove rolls from refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for 45 minutes.)
Preheat oven to 350°.
Place rolls in oven and bake 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven. Brush tops with melted butter. Sprinkle tops of olive rolls with paprika. Sprinkle tops of tomato rolls with garlic powder.
Serve warm. Enjoy!