Antipasti: Piadine & sundried tomato dip

A speciality of the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy, piadine (piadina in the singular) are unleavened flatbreads, served locally with cheese, cold meats or as the ‘wrapping’ for a variety of imaginative sandwich fillings.  I was first introduced to piadine by an old schoolfriend when I visited her at her home near Bologna a couple of years ago.  More than once on that visit, piadine  were served as an accompaniment to aperitifs in restaurants where they were brought to the table on large platters alongside antipasti such as olives and prosciutto crudo.

Having just arranged to meet my friend in Italy again this summer, I found myself suddenly enthusiastic about laying on a piadine-inspired antipasti spread last Friday when a balmy summer’s evening stretched ahead of us.  With these warm, tasty flatbreads, I served olives and parma ham together with a rather moreish, and slightly spicy, sundried tomato dip.

And to drink? Typically, in Emilia-Romagna, the local red wine, from Sangiovese, might be enjoyed or a crisp, dry Italian white.  We went for a Verdicchio from just down the coast in the region of Le Marche which was just right for the hint of spice in the dip.  Recipes for the dip and the piadine are below.

Piadine (recipe adapted from http://www.italian food.com)

The traditional recipe for these versatile flatbreads uses lard but I used olive oil which makes a lighter consistency and, for me, works better particularly in the heat of the summer.

Ingredients:

Half a kilo of strong white bread flour
1 tsp salt
100ml olive oil (or, I’m told, 60g lard)
Warm water

Put the flour in a bowl and add the salt and olive oil.  Mix together with a spoon.  Add sufficient water to give a cohesive dough and then knead it for a couple of minutes.  Leave to rest for half an hour in the bowl, covered with a cloth.

After it has rested, split the dough into five portions for large piadine (see photo above) or ten portions if you prefer to serve a smaller flatbread.  Roll each piece into a ball and then roll out with a rolling pin until they are about 2mm thick.

Heat a griddle or cast-iron pan until hot then add the piadine one by one.  They should gradually start to brown in patches on the underside.  Flip them over and repeat on the other side.  Again, see my photo above for how they should look.  This will take 2-3 minutes for each piadina.

Spicy sundried tomato dip

Ingredients:

15 sundried tomatoes which have been kept in a jar of oil
A small red chilli, seeds and pith removed for less of a kick
3 tbsp oil from the jar containing the tomatoes
2 handfuls fresh oregano and/or thyme leaves
Squeeze lemon juice
Freshly ground salt and pepper

Put all the ingredients into a mini food processor and blitz until smooth.  Add more oil, lemon and seasonings as required.

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