The Italian and I made Taralli, a pretzel-like snack from the southern Puglia region that is often served as an appetiser with white wine or in a bread basket. Similar to bagels, they are briefly boiled before baking, giving them a unique texture.
We regularly buy these when we visit Italy, usually from the Coop (grocery store) where they come nicely packaged and perfectly shaped. But we were inspired to try making them ourselves when a friend did a really nice version served as an appetiser before dinner. (Her blog, which is pretty great, can be found here.) They are definitely worth making them by hand, and while ours were not as consistently and perfectly formed as the Coop ones I personally liked the charm of our multi-sized and rather misshapen taralli rings!
Taralli can be plain, or they can have a variety of different spices in them. The most common spices are fennel seed and black pepper, although you can also try a variety of seeds, garlic, chili or anything else that strikes your fancy. I divided my dough into three separate pieces and made some plain, some with fennel, and some with black pepper. They came out quite good although I don’t think they will last long in the house – think I shall be making these more regularly!
Flour – 4 cups (500 g)
Extra virgin olive oil – 1/2 cup (125 ml)
White wine – 1 cup (200 ml)
Salt – 1 tsp (10 g)
Pepper, Fennel seeds – 1-2 tsp
(can also try chili, poppy seeds, sesame seeds, onion and garlic)
– Mix flour and salt in large bowl.
– Add olive oil and wine. Mix until dough forms.
– Knead dough on a table or board for about 5 minutes. Add the extra spices if desired. Divide dough and add pepper in one and fennel seeds in another. Can also do plain.
– Cover the dough and let it rest 20-30 minutes.
– Pinch off small balls of dough (walnut sized) and roll between your hands or against a cutting board to form a long, thin rope. Should be about ½ inch (1 cm) in diameter and 4” long (10 cm).
– Shape the rope into a ring and seal the edges together. Can also look like a tear drop. Place the rings on a board and cover them.
– Boil a large pot of water. Carefully drop 7-10 taralli into the pot. They will sink to the bottom. After about 1 minute they will rise to the top of the water. Use a slotted spoon to remove them from the water, and place on kitchen towel to dry. Repeat with all taralli.
– Allow taralli to dry on the towel. Then, place them on a baking tray (no need to grease) and into the oven to cook at 375F (200C) for about 25 – 30 minutes or until golden brown.
– Remove from oven and cool.
– Store in air-tight container.