Piadina is not any kinds of food, but it represents the history if an entire region with very deep-rooted traditions. Making piadina is much more than baking some bread to roll some stuffing with, it is a kind of magic! You must make piadina with your own hands (the recipe could not be easier); it is better than any store-bought ones! Don’t you think so? Give it a try and tell me!
Where is piadina from?
Piadina originated in Romagna, which is part of the wonderful region called Emilia-Romagna, where I spent my childhood and my adolescence. Summers at the sea, my sun-tanned skin, my hair which had turned blond at the end of the season, thousands of freckles are all memories from those amazing years. What’s more? Piadina- it used to make the perfect snack to satisfy my hunger after a long swim in the sea.
First of all, let’s look into the words…
Piada, piadina, crescione or cassone: are they the same things? Yes, a few words which refer to similar food with some slight differences: crescione is stuffed, folded, closed and then cooked. Whereas, piada or piadina is cooked, then stuffed with cured meats, or cheese (they are absolutely droolworthy), then folded and eaten as a kind of sandwich, slowly bite after bite.
What does piadina mean?
Piadina was born a lot of years ago- very poor and simple, it was made from wheat flour, water, little yeast which were kneaded and cooked on a stone surface or any surfaces which may spread heat evenly and burn the surface slightly. As it was easy to bake and very adaptable to any meals, piadina from Romagna used to be the most common food for the peasants and all the poor people who lived on their home-grown products for long time. Nowadays, piadina has become a gourmet dish!
You may encounter piadina everywhere in Romagna; anyway, you should get it in one of those nice tiny kiosks with white and red striped walls. You can’t miss them, because there is always a long line of people who are waiting for their freshly made scrumptious piadina. These kiosks are usually family-run: every family has got their own recipe they will never reveal!
Nowadays, piada is spreading all around the world, because tasted once, it can be forgotten! You can have it standing, the stuffing leaks our but you can collect it with your hands… that’s the most scrumptious part!
What is a piadina sandwich?
Piadina è is a thin, light, fragrant and freshly made kind of bread- flour, water, and lard or extra virgin olive oil are kneaded and cooked on a griddle or testo. Then it is stuffed with whatever you like, folded as a handkerchief.
Fundamentally, you may encounter two kinds of piadina in Emilia-Romagna: the one from Romagna is more compact, crumbly, and stiff. It is from 15to 25cm wide and from 4 to 8mm thick. On the other hand, piadina from Rimini is thinner (about 3mm), soft, fluffy and from 23 to 30cm wide.
How do you eat piadina?
According to the most genuine recipe of Romagna, Parma ham, arugula, and squacquerone cheese (spreadable fresh cheese) make the perfect combination of tastes: savory and delicate ham, “peppery” and bitter green, creamy and melt-in your mouth cheese. This is what you have to look for if you have never tasted piadina before! Take notes and prepare it!
Of course, you may encounter thousands of variations: they all fit a fast lunch break, or an informal dinner with friends and family. Stuff it to your taste: the wide range of combinations make piadina a varied main dish you hardly may get tired of!
Moreover, this delicacy is not only a very tempting main course: slice it for a toothsome appetizer to enrich your aperitive or or starters buffet. Please don’t forget sweet piadina, a mouthwatering dessert or an irresistible snack for children and adults alike.
The most important ingredients:
- Flour: type 0 which needs a varying quantity of water. Water absorption does not only depend on the type of flour itself, and on the weather conditions. In hot days, less yeast and water are needed than in cold ones. A little practice will help you to “feel” when the dough has reached the right consistency: smooth and tacky but not sticky. In case it is too sticky add some more flour. You may vary the type of flour to your taste: whole grain flour, rye, buckwheat, kamut, chestnut, corn, or a mix of them for a more rustic dough;
- Water: use tap water. The quantity depends on the type of flour and the weather conditions-most of all on the degree of humidity; if you use only water, piadina will be crispier;
- Milk: makes the dough light and fragrant. It is the magic trick to make piadina even more toothsome;
- Leavening agent: piadina doesn’t want any yeast. In the past, the tip of a teaspoon of baking soda (it was common in the pantries of any households) used to be added for an airier and softer dough. Nowadays, baking soda may be well replaced with 2 teaspoons of instant yeast. Anyway, piadina turns out right without any leavening agents;
- Fat: lard or extra virgin olive oil. If you want a lighter variation, use seed oil. Lard makes your piadina as appetizing as those you may get in a kiosk in Romagna!
The key points of the recipe:
- Resting time: the dough must rest about 2-3. Wrap the dough in cling film to protect it from air streams (that’s why a tea towel doesn’t fit). Resting time is not mandatory, but it makes the dough tastier and easier to roll;
- Cooking process: use a griddle pan or a non-stick pan. Just a few seconds before starting cooking rub a small piece of dough (which you will throw away) onto the hot pan: the oil or the lard you have used will melt and the piadina won’t stick to the surface of the pan;
- Piadina is done when it shows leopard-like spots on both sides. Quickly remove from the pan, fill and fold it. Eat warm!
Piadina romagnola - How to make a super tasty flatbread sandwich
- 1 kg flour type 0
- 200 gr room temperature lard or 190g extra virgin olive oil
- 5 gr baking soda
- 400 (about) ml water
- 20 gr salt
- 3-4 tbsp (extra) milk (or 250ml of milk + 150ml of water) for a more fragrant piadina
- 1 tbs (extra) honey gives piadina a nice golden color
- Sift the flour onto a wooden board (you may use the stand electric mixer fitted with the dough hook);
- Sift in salt and baking soda;
- Add lard or oil. Smash the lard with the tips of your fingers and combine it with the flour until it is completely incorporated;
- Mix with a fork taking the flour from the sides a little at a time; then add water gradually. Start mixing with your hands until the dough comes together. Add more flour in case of sticky dough;
- Knead vigorously until a smooth and elastic dough;
- Divide the dough into 8-10 even balls; they should be as big as a tangerine (about 150-160g each). Knead until a dough;
- Place the balls to rest for at least 2 hours (you may use the dough without letting it rest, but it will result less tasty);
- Flour the pastry board and place the first ball;
- On a smooth surface (a marble surface is perfect), roll the ball into a disc roughly 20-25cm in diameter and 2mm thick. Try to make it as round as possible: keep the rolling pin always in the same position while you are rolling the ball. Rotate at the right angles the dough, instead.
- If the piada sticks to the rolling pin, sprinkle the surface with a little flour;
- Heat a griddle pan, a non-stick pan, or even a refractory plate; cook the piadina over medium heat;
- Gently prick the surface to avoid bubbles;
- It takes a few minutes; cook the piadina a couple of minutes on each side or until it gets golden; use a spatula to flip it over. Piadina is done when it shows leopard-like spots.
- Add the filling to your taste. Read below for a few hints.
What can I fill piadina with?
Piadina must be eaten freshly made and hot to enjoy its full taste. Slice and sprinkle it with a little oil and chopped rosemary (just like a kind of flatbread): a finger-licking appetizer. What about having it instead of bread? Definitely succulent!
Below you may find the most delectable combinations of ingredients to fill piadina with (the quantities depend on your taste; a piece of advice; load it very very generously!):
- Soft and creamy cheese such as stracchino or squaquerone, Parma ham, and arugula or lettuce;
- Mortadella with cream cheese and coarsely chopped pistachio-nuts;
- Speck, brie (a very toothsome cheese), and a few mushrooms;
- Asparagus, ham, and stracchino cheese;
- Mozzarella, tomatoes, and fresh basil, or oregano;
- Mozzarella or cream cheese, mixed grilled veggies, and oregano;
- Lettuce, mozzarella, tomatoes, and Parma ham;
- Philadelphia cream cheese, smoked salmon and avocado (to your taste);
- Tuna, baby-artichokes preserved in oil, and arugula;
- Parma ham, baby-artichokes preserved in oil, and arugula;
- Roasted turkey breast, mayo, lettuce;
- Tuna, tomatoes, lettuce, mayo;
- And the sweet treat: Nutella, Nutella and more Nutella (the best kwon chocolate and hazelnut spread in Italy) and coarsely chopped hazelnuts. Only one word: yummy!
How can you store piadina?
Cooked piadina discs keep fresh in the fridge in an airtight container up to 2 days. You may freeze them too: cook the discs briefly (about one minute each side), pile them divided by a sheet of parchment paper, and put into the freezer. When you need, you won’t have to defrost them. Place the frozen dough onto a very hot pan and cook until done! It will be as scrumptious as a fresh one.