Last Friday, we were making a traditional Italian dish for dinner — Risotto Primavera — and we didn’t have bread to serve alongside. In our house, baking day is Sunday, and, since we’d traveled, we’d eaten all the bread in the house. So, we decided that there must be some quick, easy, traditionally Italian flatbread we can make up in a few minutes. And, according to posts on the Internet, there is: piadina. We looked at a few recipes and quickly realized a secret about piadina which we’ll reveal at the end of this post.
There are many, many recipes out there for piadina, all slightly different, and, having discovered the secret, we didn’t follow any of them. We did something else, instead.
We used a mix of Sonora white wheat flour and all-purpose, and you can do the same if you’re incorporating more whole-grains into your diet. And, you can use another oil instead of olive oil; apparently in some locales, lard is traditionally used.
Procedure in detail:
Mix dry ingredients. In a medium bowl, mix together flour and salt. We just use our fingers to swish it all around and consider it done.
Add olive oil and water. Add the olive oil, followed by the boiling water. You can measure if you want, and we recommend it the first couple of times, but we just pour in some from a tea kettle. After making a whole variety of dough, we can pretty much eyeball the amount needed, and, in making piadinas, the exact amount isn’t critical. Since it’s hot — you added boiling water — use a spoon to stir and see if it forms a dough. If not, add a bit more water and stir again. We suggest about a tablespoon at a time. If you’ve add too much water, simply compensate by adding more flour. You’ll get more piadinas.
Knead. Once you have a dough, turn it out onto a work surface and knead for about 5 to 10 minutes. If your dough is the right consistency, it shouldn’t stick, nor should it be difficult to knead. After 5 minutes the dough will be nice and smooth.
Rest. Wrap the dough in plastic and let rest for at least 30 minutes. The resting time is very flexible. You could easily make this dough in the morning while you’re brewing tea, and use it at lunch or even dinner.
Preheat griddle. Place a griddle over medium heat to preheat while you roll out the piadina. No need to oil, as these shouldn’t stick. If you don’t have a griddle, use a large heavy-bottomed skillet, instead.
Roll. Divide the dough into 6 pieces and roll each into a ball. On a floured work surface, roll each into a disk about 5-6 inches in diameter and about 1/16 of an inch thick.
Griddle. Place a piadina on the griddle and cook until it bubbles in places and browns in spots, about 2 minutes. Flip and cook the same on the other side. Wrap in a clean towel to keep warm.
You might have noticed that these piadina look somewhat like tortillas, and you’re right. After looking at several recipes, we figured out the secret: piadinas are nothing but tortillas made with olive oil. That’s the only difference. The dough is made the same, it’s rested the same, rolled out the same, cooked the same, and they taste pretty much the same. Once we realized that, we simply used our recipe for Tortillas, substituting olive oil for shortening. We love that piadinas and tortillas come from two seemingly dissimilar cultures, but you could swap out one for the other and no one would be the wiser. And, of course, like home-scratched tortillas, piadinas rock. Five stars.