Classic piadine Italian flatbreads, with a dusting of Parmesan cheese. Instructions provided for making it at high altitudes and at sea level.
We’re here now. Living in Tahoe full-time … one of the most beautiful places to live – and, I’ve decided, one of the most insane for weather. While you planted flowers last week, we watched two feet of fresh snow blow through, and we’re expecting more in a couple days. Cah-razy!
There’s more nature than people here, with yipping coyotes out back causing us to snuggle just a little deeper into our beds at night, and bears ripping off the boards enclosing trash containers. Some friends don’t understand why we’ve left the civilization of San Francisco for a small town with a long snowy winter. They ask, “Won’t you miss _________ (fill in the blank)??” Yes, I will, and do. But for now, living in the mountains is where I want to be.
I need to slow down. I need to get off the eternal wheel of stuffing my days with more things than time realistically allows. When I first moved to California nearly 30 years ago (OMG, am I really that old??), I likened it to a merry-go-round that everyone was on. After a year, I was on the merry-go-round, gaily holding on with one hand as if it were a bucking bronco. Another year or more gone by, and that merry-go-round and I were one. Merged, Borg-like. Sleeping problems ensued, and life became a sport.
Busy-ness is an addiction.
A couple of weeks ago, we were in the Bay Area, packing up our lives in preparation to move. Each day, I (frantically) made the rounds to all my restaurant haunts, as if we were leaving for the depths of Mongolia, and not expected to return. It was easy to justify – after all, we’d boxed up the kitchen. But my mission was a bit manic at times, and I gained all the weight back that I’d lost in January and February.
One of my favorite lunch places serves soft, warm piadine slices with any salad for an extra $4.00. A bargain, trust me. Huge slices are stacked on a separate plate, thin, stretchy, and covered with olive oil and Parmesan cheese. And now that I’m living in Siberia (ok, maybe an exaggeration), my new life’s goal is to re-create that bread.
Piadina is an Italian flatbread from north-central Italy, in the Emilia-Romagna region. It’s a simple bread of flour, lard or olive oil, water, and salt. Variations abound, of course, with baking powder or yeast additions being the most common, and originally lard was more used than olive oil.
Confession: This version isn’t what I had in the Bay Area, but it’s wonderful none-the-less. Instead of the stretchy version, this one is more like a very thin biscuit. Slather it with jam, butter, or rain some Parmesan cheese across it. It's all good.
As a note: I baked it, but it’s traditionally cooked in a skillet on a stovetop. Cook (or bake) them a shorter time for a flexible bread perfect for folding over cheese and vegetables to create a tortilla-like sandwich. Cook them until crisp, and you get a crisp bottom for a thin pizza flatbread.
I’m still experimenting, so brace yourself for more versions over the coming months, but this one has earned a place at our table regularly.
Baking Adjustments for Sea Level:
If you live at sea level, or reasonable close to it, make the following changes to the recipe:
- Use the full 16 ounces of bread flour
- Increase the baking powder to 1 1/2 tablespoons
- Decrease the olive oil to 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons)
- Decrease the water to 1 cup
- Bake for 12 minutes
Parmesan Piadine (Italian Flatbreads)
- Whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a dough hook.
- Pour in the olive oil, water, and lemon juice all at once, and knead at a medium-low speed for 10 minutes. The dough should be very smooth. Cover for one hour, to allow the dough to rest. This will make it easier to roll thinner.
- Preheat the oven to 400˚F with a pizza stone.
- Divide the dough into four balls. Lightly flour the counter or work surface, and press one of the balls of dough with your hand. Cover the other balls with plastic. Roll the flattened ball of dough into a very thin circle of dough, as thin as you can get it. Mine were about 1/10" thick.
- Place on a sheet of parchment paper, slide onto the back of a baking sheet, and sprinkle with a one tablespoon cheese. Slide it (including the parchment paper) onto the hot pizza stone. Bake for 14 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove, and repeat with the remaining four balls of dough.
If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #WIMPYVEGETARIAN on Instagram. I'd love to see what you cook!