Ella’s Perfect Pesto Palmiers

We once had a Leiths’ cookery student to come and help us during some busy holidays. Her name was Ella, and not only did she cook like a dream, but she was also a delight to have in the kitchen…or anywhere else for that matter.

She could see that I was pretty frantic. On one occasion she made some canapés which were a real success. “You could do them yourself without any trouble after I’ve gone” she commented kindly, “I make my own pesto and pastry, but you could just buy both ready made”.

I was certainly up for that, and indeed, they have since become a go-to recipe when time was short, or numbers considerable. They aren’t just quick to make, they work well for a big party because you can make them ahead and then reheat at the last minute. We made these for the sixtieth birthday party of a girlfriend (she of the smoked salmon canapés) as well as my daughter’s 21st; and also for one of the Chief Correspondent’s jewellery exhibitions, and they were a huge success on all three occasions.

This is really more of a concept than a recipe – you can experiment with almost any filling.

One highly successful example is mixing soft goats cheese with chopped roasted red peppers from the deli counter, chopped walnuts, honey and thyme.

You can also experiment with the shape – for example you could make an enormous one, using the entire puff pastry sheet in the shape of a Christmas tree, or the numbers 2 and 1.

Recipe for Ella’s pesto palmiers

Makes about 20


  • 320g/11 oz all-butter puff pastry sheet
  • pesto – 150g/5 oz   beetroot, tomato, basil…. or follow this link for how to make your own pesto with just about anything


  1. Preheat the oven to 210ºC.
  2. Roll out the puff pastry to about 1 cm/¼” thick on a floured board.
  3. Spread the pesto over and roll the pastry up into a log (if you want small palmiers roll from the vertical side of your pastry rectangle, if larger ones roll from the short side. Wrap tightly in cling film and refrigerate.
  4. When you’re ready to cook take the chilled roll out of the fridge, slice it, lay the slices down on a silicone-lined baking tray and bake for 10-15 minutes (watch them) until puffed up and crispy.
how to make perfect palmiers
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