It’s often the food you find when you travel that acts as landmarks in your memory. Making and eating those dishes again when you’re back home transports you back to those places instantaneously, so we’re heading back to Puglia in Italy with this taralli recipe. Come with us!
Taralli – little bows of crumbly crunchy savoury wonder – are everywhere in Puglia in the ‘heel’ of Italy. Puglia (pronounced “pull-eeya”) has quite a few dishes peculiar to the region that we’ve talked about before, but we miss taralli the most… perhaps because it’s the thing we ate the most!
In restaurants and bars, they arrive in a little bowl with every drink, before every meal and sometimes just because. In shops and delis, you can find huge arrays of different types and flavours of taralli.
These snacks are so much part of the Pugliese lifestyle it wouldn’t be Puglia without them.
How to make taralli
Taralli – like many dishes from Puglia – are made in homes throughout the region. This means there are literally millions of recipes. This is my interpretation of a few I’ve tried like this one that seems to work the best for me.
Makes over 100 taralli depending on the size if each one
Here’s what you need
– 4 cups strong ‘00’ flour
– 1½ tsp salt
– 1 tsp sugar
– 2/3 cup olive oil
– 1 cup dry white wine
– 2 tsp fennel seeds*
– ½ tsp smoky paprika (optional)
– Maldon sea salt flakes for garnish (optional)
*The typical Pugliese recipe uses fennel seeds, but you can try anything you like – chilli flakes, coriander, crumbled bacon, parmesan… or even just plain.
Here’s what you do
- Sieve the flour into a large bowl and mix the salt and sugar in well.
- Add the oil and wine gradually and mix well until a rough dough forms.
- Drop the dough onto a board and knead for about 5 minutes until the ingredients are combined and the dough starts to smooth out.
- Add the fennel seeds and smoky paprika now and knead for another couple of minutes until combined.
- Cover the dough and rest it for about 20 minutes and prepare yourself for the boring bit.
- Pinch off pieces of dough (I make mine small – about grape sized pieces approx. 10g each) and roll them into thin sausages about 10cm long.
- Twist each one round and join the ends by gently pressing them together. Everyone in Puglia has a different shape to their taralli so be creative!
8. Drop 6-8 taralli into a large pot of boiling water and cook them for about 30 seconds. They’ll float to the top when they’re done. Scoop them out and leave them on a piece of baking paper to cool.
9. When all taralli are boiled, put them on a lined baking tray and sprinkle with salt crystals.
10. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 170oC (340oF) for 15 minutes, then turn them and bake for another 5mins.
11. Allow to cool. This is important as they get crispier as they cool. They are actually even better if you can leave them overnight.
You can store the taralli in air-tight containers and they’ll last for up to 2 weeks… apparently. We’ve never given them the chance to prove it.
Making these taralli is fiddly and time-consuming, but very therapeutic. And not to mention thoroughly worth it at the end when you sit and munch on a few, and let yourself travel across the world back to this beautiful part of Italy.
Do you have a dish you cook that takes you across the waves to a much-loved destination? What food lets you travel back to a favourite holiday? Tell us in the comments!