When you think Italy and food, thoughts immediately go to Pizza or Pasta, Gnocchi or Gelati, Panini or Espresso, however there’s so much more to fill with great delish your tummy with! Living in Nice, France, right behind the Italian border, I had numbers of panini through my life, as they are our sandwich regular treat. But then I was searching for something new to make for my World food Challenge, and I came across this concept of Piadina Italiana that consists in a light sandwich made out of an olive oil based flatbread, filled with Italian delicacies and finally grilled in the pan. I couldn’t wait to try that out! I mean, doesn’t it look delicious?
Normally, the traditional Piadina is filled with Italian charcuterie (very thin cold cuts) and a type of cheese that melts easily, such as a fresh and creamy Mozzarella soft ball. Nevertheless, you could replace it all by any type of charcuterie you like best (as I did) and choose a type of cheese that would melt less easily than Mozza but would do your sandwich justice if you’d cut it in pretty thin-and-easy-to-melt-slices instead of big chunks. What I have in mind is this delish I’ve found in the Gourmet section of my supermarket: a Mediterranean Gouda; it is your regular Gouda, only it’s ripened along with inclusions of dried tomato, basil and black olive crumbs. Wonderful finding, and one that allows me to re-interprete in a very Mediterranean way the Piadina Italiana!
If you’re not too much into charcuterie, or if you are a vegetarian, I would suggest you replace charcuterie with grilled veggies, however keep in mind that you should keep the spirit of Mediterranean dishes and only use veggies that are grown under lots of sunshine and tastes like the sun (yes, yes, me not crazy…). For that to be achieved, choose bell peppers, eggplants, zucchinis, tomatoes and olives. Forget about carrot, broccoli, peas and beetroot, they will do no good to the Italian food spirit of your dish!
Last but not least, the flatbread. We’ll all agree on that one, no decent sandwich could possibly be prepared without a good bread. To make it easier to understand for all, let’s say the Piadina is a regular flatbread enriched with olive oil, baked in a pan on both sides, cooled down at room temperature for a few minutes, then filled in with some garnish of your choice, folded in two, and grilled as a whole in the pan again. The olive oil will give the bread a nice flavor, and will make it possible to be crunchy after the very last grilling process. Therefore, second-guess me already: the power of the Piadina Italiana is that it is both crunchy on the outside and melty-gooey-tender in the inside. I loooooove it!!! And to you now I say “Buon Appetito” !!
INGREDIENTS (for 4 Piadine)
- 180 grams of flour
- 1 tsp of salt
- 2 large tbsp of olive oil (a bit more is evenly fine)
- 1/2 tsp of baking soda
- 10 cl of water
- For garnish: charcuterie of your choice (with this special salted taste that only can come from the cold cuts aka dried smoked meats. Look up French and Italian charcuterie for more info)
- cheese of your taste, preferably something that you’ll control well the melt of)
- Combine all the ingredients to make the dough.
- Leave the dough at rest for at least 15 minutes under a dry cloth.
- Split the dough into 4 balls and cover back with the kitchen cloth..
- Brush a pan with a bit of olive oil and wait for it to heat up.
- Spread one ball of dough with a rolling pin on a work surface, shape it well as a disk, and then immediately bake in the pan to form the first flatbread.
- Do not spread all 4 balls at once, as the uncovered dough will loose its soft and chewy texture, and might even turn dry. Get organized: while the first flatbread is in the pan, start shaping the second disk of dough with the rolling pin.
- Back to your flatbread in the pan: flip it over and bake on the other side. Take ouf of the pan immediately when ready and transfer to a plate.
- Repeat the same with the second ball of dough: add a bit of olive oil to the pan if needed, bake the second flatbread in the pan while you prepare the next one on the side with your rolling pin, etc.
- When all 4 flatbreads are ready, display charcuterie thin cuts onto each flatbread’s half, top it with thin slices of cheese such as Gouda for instance (or thick slices of melty Mozzarella), and fold the flatbread over as shown on the picture above.
- Put each Piadina back in the pan (or two at a time) and grill on both sides. Press a little bit on the sides so that it takes (and keeps) a nice folded shape, and so that the cheese adheres to the Piadina from the all over inside.
- Serve warm.
Created and Written by Sophie Rebibo-Halimi, © 2016 All Rights Reserved.