My story about making passata with Nonna and Nonno touched many hearts, so I thought I’d bring you another Italian staple – taralli.
Taralli are like very crispy bagels and are made to various recipes all over Italy. Nonna makes hers with fennel seeds and they are moreish and perfect for an afternoon snack, to serve instead of bread at the dinner table or with dips, olives and gooey cheese at parties. Nonna tends to make bagel-sized taralli, but I prefer the mini versions. You can bake taralli for less time to make them softer if you like, but traditionally they are baked almost as hard as bricks and they last pretty much as long in the pantry.
Nonna has a ready supply of taralli on hand at all times, baking them at least once a month or more regularly if needed. Nonno says that a well-stocked taralli jar is comforting and satisfying.
How to make taralli
Makes about 25 bagel-size taralli or 60 mini versions. Nonna triples this recipe to make her taralli in bulk.
4 cups plain flour
About 2 tsp salt
3 tsp freshly ground black pepper (leave this out if the kids don’t like it)
1 cup warm water
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Small handful of fennel seeds
On a clean, flat surface, mix together the flour, salt and pepper and fennel (if using).
Make a well in the centre and pour in the water and olive oil. Bring the flour into the liquid until a rough dough starts to form.
Lightly knead the dough until it start to come together and then knead firmly for about 10 minutes until it becomes springy. Helpers are good at this stage!
Cover the dough and allow it to rest for about 1/2 an hour. Your arms will be grateful for the time out too.
When the dough is ready, put a large pot of water on the stove to boil and preheat the oven to 200°C.
Now it’s time to take pinches of dough and form each into a ball before it rolling out like a long sausage.
Shape each sausage into a ring, and press the edges together then place on a damp towel to keep them from drying out. Nonna makes her taralli on the kitchen table covered in a slightly-wet bed sheet. The girls enjoy making lots of different taralli shapes as you can see from the picture below. The Badoo specialises in making ‘L for Lottie’s and Arabella likes to coil hers into little pots. I love the random snail.
Drop about 6-8 tarallis into the boiling water – don’t crowd the pot. You only need to boil each taralli for less than a minute before they float to the surface. Remove floating tarallis immediately and place them on a clean cloth to dry and cool.
Once cool, lay the tarallis on baking sheets lined with baking paper and bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes until golden.
Remove and place on racks to cool and harden. Once cool store in an airtight container for many weeks.
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- You can make your tarallis as small or large as you like, but you’ll need to adjust cooking times so experiment to see what you like best.
- You can also bake the tarallis for less time to serve them less crispy – they make a nice bread accompaniment at dinner.
- Throw some mini tarallis in the lunch box – they make a deeply satisfying little lunch.
What traditional recipes do you cook at home?