Taralli are a ubiquitous Italian snack food found in every corner of the noble boot. Each region has its own variation; some are softer and more bready, others are crunchy, some are flavoured with chilli, almonds, fenel seed or herbs. In Puglia they use olive oil in the dough but in Naples it’s lard. They come out with the wine as part of an aperitivo spread or to tide you over between meals. When I lived in Emilia Romagna taralli kept me going through never-ending lectures on Italian history and inevitably delayed train journeys.
The best tasting taralli I ever had were on a sun-soaked January day in Naples. After an early start to get the train from Rome, a small group of friends and I were led on a walking tour of the city by a university lecturer who had grown up in the area. It was a fascinating tour, he had something to say about everything, but it did go on a little… Thankfully he noticed we were flagging and treated us to fresh pepper and almond taralli from a street vendor. Maybe it was my hunger-induced delirium but they tasted amazing and I’ve never forgotten them. I’ve also never been able to find them again and, since popping over to Naples isn’t an option at the moment, whipping up a batch at home certainly is. Since we’re heading up to Yorkshire this week for a quick holiday I made a batch of spicy, savoury taralli to nibble in the car. The wine will just have to wait until we get there.
Black pepper and parmesan taralli
- 240g strong white flour
- 120g white spelt flour*
- 1 sachet yeast
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper
- 70g grated parmesan
- 60ml olive oil
- 60ml white wine
- 120ml warm water
Preheat the oven to 180C and bring a large pan of water to the boil. Oil 2 metal cooling racks and place on trays.
Drop 5 or 6 taralli at a time into the boiling water. When they rise to the surface strain them out and place on the cooling racks.
Bake the taralli on the racks for 30 minutes until golden. Halfway through the baking time swap the top and bottom racks over and rotate them to ensure even cooking. Cool before serving.
*Traditionally taralli are made with plain flour which I didn’t have to hand, hence using a mix of strong flour and spelt flour to balance the gluten. The recipe should work perfectly with all plain flour.