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Tricolour Bread Swirls

These bready bites by Jo Ingleby are one of my favourite canapés this year. You could use shop-bought tapenade or pesto, but making your own is so much tastier, takes only a few minutes and you can vary the ingredients to your liking. Also, most shop-bought pestos include parmesan - not vegetarian - so making your own means you can leave out the cheese and vary the herbs and nuts.

Our winter version of the swirl has a watercress and walnut pesto, which is lovely accompanied by sundried tomato and roasted red pepper swirls. You might also want to try basil and pinenut or Greek olive tapanade. We've included these recipes below.

For other festive canapés, take a look at our vegetarian holiday recipes or join one of our upcoming Christmas cookery courses.

Tricolour Bread Swirls


  • 500g strong white bread flour
  • 1 level tbsp dried yeast
  • 1tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 120ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 250ml warm water

Tricolour Swirls Edited


To make the dough:

  1. Whisk together the yeast, sugar & water, cover with Clingfilm and leave in a warm place until frothy, which takes about 10 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl mix the flour, salt & olive oil together, stir in the frothy yeast mixture & mix by hand or in a mixer with a dough hook to a soft ball consistency,
  3. Turn onto a lightly oiled surface and knead for 5 minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic. To knead: use the heel of your hand or hands to gently push the dough away from you. At the same time, use your other hand to rotate the dough towards you, guiding it slowly around in a circle. The dough is ready when it feels really soft and silky. If you poke the dough gently with a finger the imprint should spring back up when the dough is well kneaded.
  4. Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover in Clingfilm and leave to rise for at least an hour-it should double in size. When the dough has risen, carefully remove it from the bowl and turn out onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead, just enough to make the dough smooth and elastic again. At this point you can make the dough into whatever you want-a loaf, rolls, pizza base or a crowd-pleasing canapés.

To make the swirls:

  1. One single quantity of the dough will make all three flavoured swirls and the tiny tarts. (8-12 small swirls of each colour and 12 tiny tarts).
  2. Cut the dough into four. Roll out each ball of dough so that it is rectangular in shape and about 1/2cm thick-about the size of a sheet of A4 paper.
  3. Spread a thin layer of the tapenade/paste over the top so that it cover the dough evenly but leave a 1 cm margin clean along one of the long edges. You can either make separate swirls for each filling or just one big rectangle and all three fillings spread over the dough in three stripes.
  4. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.
  5. Roll the dough up starting with the long edge which hasn’t got the clean margin. Roll carefully and evenly so you have a long sausage.
  6. Rub a little water along the clean margin on the dough. This will act as a glue to stick your swirl together. Rub the outside of the sausage with olive oil (you can add sesame or poppy seeds too if you like).
  7. To slice the swirls you can use a sharp knife or (much more fun!) use dental floss! Simply slip a long piece of floss under the dough and cross the two ends over and pull-this will neatly slice your swirls without squashing them. You can make lots of thin swirls (2cm) which will be like a curled breadstick, or make them thicker (4cm) and serve them as bread rolls.
  8. Place the swirls on a large greased or lined baking tin, cover loosely with Clingfilm and leave to rise again for about half an hour. You can make the swirls in a circular or rectangular tin. Bake in a hot oven for approximately 20 minutes or until the dough feels firm and looks golden. The cooking time will vary depending on the thickness of your dough.


  • Freezing options: You have a choice. You can either freeze the swirl, part cooked for 10 minutes and then finish the cooking from frozen for about 5 minutes. Or you can freeze the uncooked sausages of dough and then defrost, slice and bake.
  • Here are three of our favourite fillings:

Watercress and Walnut Pesto

  • 75g watercress
  • 20g walnuts-toasted in the oven for a few minutes
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp sugar a squeeze of lemon
  • salt and pepper

Whizz the nuts in a food processor and set aside. Whizz the remaining ingredients and whizz until smooth. Return the nuts to the processor and whizz again for just a few seconds. Taste and add salt, pepper, sugar and lemon juice to balance the flavours.

Sundried Tomato and Roasted Pepper

  • 30g sundried tomatoes
  • 1 red pepper-roasted (see below)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil (or oil from the sundried tomatoes)
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • Salt and pepper

Whizz all of the ingredients together in a food processor and season to taste. The best sundried tomatoes to use are those sold in jars with olive oil. Use this oil to add to the dish. If you are using dried sundried tomatoes you will need to rehydrate them in boiling water before use and add a tablespoon of olive oil to the dish. To roast a pepper: slice off the top of the pepper (with the stalk) and remove the seeds and membrane. Rub lightly with oil and place, hollow side down on a baking tray, place the lid next to it and roast in a hot oven until the pepper is blackened and wrinkly-this takes about 30 minutes. Place the cooked pepper in a bowl and cover with Clingfilm. By the time the pepper has cooled enough to handle the skin will come off easily. You will also find lots of pepper juice gathers in the bowl-save this to marinade the peppers for later use or add it to your dishes. You can preserve the cooked peppers by covering them in oil so no air comes into contact with them and storing in a sealed container in the fridge for up to a week-use them for salads, soups, pizzas or adding to tarts and pies.

Greek Olive Tapenade

  • 100g Kalamata olives-pitted
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp Balsamic vinegar
  • Pepper

Whizz all of the ingredients except the pepper in a small food processor until it is as smooth as you like-it is lovely really smooth like a paste or kept a bit chunky. Taste and add more vinegar and pepper if you like.

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