Olive-Pancetta Rolls (No-Knead Method)



It was the last day of our two-week stay in Sardinia (Italy’s second largest island, Sicily being number one).  An early evening flight back to Dublin to stay with our travel companions/good friends for a few more days before heading back to the States allowed for one more leisurely day at the beach.  We spent the previous two weeks driving around the island, starting in Alghero on the northwest side down to Cagliari in the south, working our way back up the eastern part of the island then north to Costa Smeralda.  We soaked up the sun the entire time, nary a drop of rain threatening to dampen our vacation.  The biggest decision we had each day?  Ranking all the magical beaches we’ve seen and arguing about which was best–everyone had his/her favorite spot.  There was absolutely no warning of the wild ride awaiting us on our last evening.



On our way to the airport the weather changed…and fast.  Clear blue skies gave way to strong winds and furious gray clouds that wasted no time dumping on us.  A few miles away from the airport traffic stopped and we had to pull over due to lack of visibility.  My husband, my friends and I could only laugh in disbelief as we sat in our car waiting for the freak storm to pass.  Our poor rental car had to endure attacks from the wind and giant hailstones.  The video we took to capture the moment is now gone but we will never forget it.

In that short amount of time power lines were knocked down and trees fell, blocking the roads, delaying our arrival at the airport.  It hardly mattered anyway.  Once we finally got there, it was clear that we seemed to fare better against the storm than the building did.  Part of the roof was torn off, as well as the building’s air-conditioning system.  It came as no surprise to us to learn that all inbound and outbound flights were cancelled…indefinitely.  We would stay in Sardinia another night.


With very limited flights arriving in and leaving Sardinia, our best course was to take a detour instead of counting on a direct flight back to Dublin.  Orbitz was a godsend the following morning as I was able to book a flight to Rome just a couple of hours before its scheduled departure time.  Our seats were confirmed and we expected to be back in Dublin following this several-hour layover.  There wasn’t quite enough time to leave the airport to take in the sites so we whiled away the hours reading and window shopping.

Me?  I ate.  I stuffed myself with as much Italian treats as possible.  One thing I have never quite forgotten were some rolls I bought from one of the airport’s sandwich shops.  They were dotted with pancetta (and even eggs, I believe), satisfying my desire for a little salty meat to go with the bread.  I have been meaning to try them at home for years–finally, the time came this past weekend.

I tweaked my version a bit by adding olives to these rolls.  Olive bread has always been a favorite of mine and I thought it would pair well with the pancetta.  Even better, I used a no-knead bread recipe to make it easier on myself.  One batch of dough will make 3 or 4 loaves or 18-24 rolls and the dough will last for a week so you’d be set after only a few minutes of prep work.  I’ve just enjoyed my second batch and am so grateful for I’ll have enough to last the weekend.  They’re very hard to resist especially with not just one, but two, savory surprises inside!  Just maybe, discovering those rolls at the airport was worth our travel hiccups…maybe.

* By the way, another hiccup on this trip?  As we boarded our plane to Dublin, airline personnel refused to let me on due to some “issues” with my ticket.  Mind you, my friends and husband have just been allowed through and I booked these tickets all at the same time.  I had to frantically call Orbitz back to confirm the validity of my ticket (never mind that we all successfully checked in earlier).  My travel companions are watching the scene unfold.  I’m starting to raise my voice, my husband knowing better than to intervene on my behalf at that point.  Smoke must have begun to come out of my ears as I tried to reason with the attendant.  Eventually, he allowed me to pass.  I think it took quite a few hours and a pint of Guinness once we were back in Dublin before I was able to release the stress of the previous two days!

Sardinia is still our #1 place to visit…one day I’ll share with you our adventures from visit #2!





5.0 from 8 reviews
Olive-Pancetta Rolls (No-Knead Method)
A simple no-knead bread recipe gets a makeover with not one, but two, savory surprises inside.
Recipe type: Bread
  • 3 cups lukewarm water (about 105°F)
  • 1½ tablespoons granulated yeast
  • ¾ tablespoon kosher salt
  • 7 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup green olives, chopped (I used Sicilian green olives in olive oil)
  • ¼ cup olive tapenade (alternatively, you can use ½ cup of either the chopped olives or the tapenade instead of both)
  • 4 ounces pancetta (cut in small cubes, browned and drained of excess fat)
  1. To Mix and Store the Dough: Using a large container with a lid (about 5 quarts), combine the yeast and salt with the water. Next add the flour, olives, tapenade and cooked pancetta. Using a large spoon, mix everything together until no loose flour remains.
  2. Cover the container (not airtight) and let the dough rest at room temperature until the dough rises and flattens at the top (about 2 hours).
  3. The dough will be ready to use at this point but it is much easier to work with after it has been refrigerated. Store in the refrigerator with the lid (not airtight) for up to 7 days.
  4. When you're ready to Bake: Dust the top of the dough with a little flour and cut off a 1 pound (grapefruit-size) piece. Dust the piece with more flour and shape into a ball by stretching the dough around to the bottom. On a lightly-floured surface, cut the ball into six pieces and roll each into a ball. Let the balls rest on a pizza peel sprinkled with corn meal for about 40 minutes.
  5. minutes before baking, Preheat your oven to 450°F with a baking stone placed on the middle rack. Place an empty broiler tray on the top or bottom rack.
  6. Slash the tops of the dough with a knife before you slide them onto the baking stone. Alternatively, you can transfer the dough one at a time using a spatula sprayed with cooking spray to prevent sticking.
  7. Pour 1 cup of hot water in the broiler tray to create steam as the rolls bake.
  8. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the rolls are brown and firm. Cool on a wire rack before serving.
The base no-knead recipe was borrowed from Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day with modifications.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...


  1. Sardinia was already on my travel list but now your photos have convinced me to push it to the top! During our trip to Italy a few years ago, we were caught in a sudden hail storm in Tuscany & waited out the golf ball-sized hail for at least half an hour – I love the memories and experiences travel brings! As for the rolls, pancetta sounds like the perfect match!

  2. The ‘no-knead’ totally got my attention 🙂 Have to give this a try! Love how you guys keep flying around 🙂

  3. Your ticket issues reminds me of being stopped in Cuba by 7 soldiers wielding guns because someone in Australia had stolen heaps of visa forms and they were sure it was us.

    Those rolls are so beautiful. I must make these right away before I forget.

  4. Jean – what a beautiful island and your photos are simply lovely! How scary that you had this freak storm pass through – thank goodness it passed. These rolls looks and sound simply divine. I can imagin with some great wine and cheese and just relaxing. Need to make really soon. Happy, Happy Friday!!!!

  5. What beautiful shots of Sardinia. It is definitely on my travel wish list. These bread rolls sound fantastic…particularly with a good dose of olives and pancetta.

  6. The buns look adorable! And what a great way to serve them!

  7. I love hearing about people’s travel adventures!!! Sardinia is tops on our travel bucket list. Now that we have 3 kids, our only option is to vacation at a small(ish) island, rent a car, stay for a while, and live like a local…not bad at all! And I can imagine myself biting into delicious rolls like this! Yummy! I can taste the salty highlights of olives and pancetta! Yum!

  8. Gorgeous pictures, and what an amazing and memorable trip! I had something similar happen with a ticket when I was in either late high school or college. My brother, mom, dad, and boyfriend (now husband) were all flying back from Florida. Everyone else boarded, and they wouldn’t let me on the plain. Apparently they issued 2 tickets for the same seat, and wouldn’t let me on the plane! Finally after much convincing, and my dad stepping in, they finally gave me a seat.

    Love these rolls – the no knead is perfect!!

  9. What an incredible trip to Sardinia. I never been Jean and it sounds like heaven on earth. I love when travel and what you eat while you are away inspires what happens in your kitchen. It so much more meaningful to eat something with a story behind it! 🙂

  10. I’ve put an Italian vacay on my bucket list. I’m envious, but these rolls look good!

  11. What a gorgeous pictures Jean! With kids I can’t take the time off to relax and enjoy vacations like before..
    I love your tasty rolls…great recipe!!!! Have to try this recipe too!:))
    Have a beautiful weekend!

  12. The rolls look heaven sent right now. The trip wow… beaches are beautiful but sounds like the weather can turn on a dime. I could feel the frustration you had at the airport, but glad to hear it all ended well. My Aunt worked and live on a small island that was only about 8 miles around somewhere in Italy, wish I could remember where. She lived there for 20 years or so as a American teacher on one of the American bases over there. Oh how I wish I could have gone to visit when she lived there. Mom did and had the time of her life.

  13. mmmmmmmm. I may have to make these for my train trip on Wednesday. I really like the idea of mixing in the tapenade. My husband has a similar debacle with his plane ticket once. I understand the concern for safety and all, but it has to be tempered with a little logic.

  14. The rolls look lovely.

  15. What gorgeous pictures! I’m so jealous you guys got to take a trip out there. And man, this bread is totally screaming my name! How did you know that pancetta is my all-time favorite ingredient?

  16. When I went to Sardegna, I was 3 months short of giving birth. I loved the beaches, the towns and the food most especially. I didn’t care if my tummy was the size of an oversized watermelon. The beaches were irresistible. Your rolls look divine and the combination you chose is good. And what a traveling experience!

  17. Sardinia has never been on my list of places to see, for some odd reason, but after seeing your photos it just jumped to my Top 10. 🙂 It sounds like it was an unforgettable trip for you, to say the least… thankfully, I’ve never had to deal with a flight cancellation, but I’m sure I wouldn’t have handled it nearly as competently as you did!
    BTW, those rolls look fabulous. You had me at pancetta, but the olives totally helped to seal the deal.

  18. What delicious memories, Jean! The rolls look so perfectly doughy, I would love the little nibs of olive and pancetta in there!

  19. What a marvelous vacation (despite the little ticket issue…ugh). Sardinia is now on my bucket list…so gorgeous! And these rolls look amazing…adding pancetta AND olives is genius!!!

  20. your adventures to Sardinia & Dubai remind me of a trip I took years ago to Mexico. It took me almost 48 hours to get from Romania to Mexico, with one night spent in Madrid and a lost luggage once I arrived in Mexico city.
    Lovely rolls. as much as I love kneading the bread, I have to say, your no-knead rolls are very tempting!

  21. What a gorgeous place Sardinia is! I’m always enjoying your travel stories, although this one was a bit frustrating for you. If I ever make bread again, I’ll start with no-knead method because it looks a lot easier and it equally looks delicious! I can stare at your pictures…

  22. Sardinia is on my list of places to visit but meantime I’ll have to whip up a batch of your rolls, they look just perfect! Thanks for sharing your photos and travel escapades;-)

  23. What a great and eventful trip you had. You not only got the photo memories, funny story about the storm and flight attendant but also these delicious rolls. I love olive bread and your sound amazing. Thanks for sharing your travels and recipe:)

Id Love to Hear from You


Rate this recipe: