Friselle Pugliesi with Grana Padano mousse and cherry tomatoes salad
. Difficulty: Medium
. Serves: 6 people
. Preparation time: 30 minutes and cooking time: 25 minutes
I know you have probably never heard of friselle before, and I also know that the thought of making fresh bread and letting it dry drying it out just to soak it back in liquid again before eating it doesn’t make much sense right now, but you need to think of the history and heritage of this regional recipe from Puglia, in South of Italy before you judge.
Think of friselle as the ancestor of bruschetta. This easy to store dry bagel-look-alike have a pretty clear historical purpose. During the long Mediterranean summers in Puglia, both fishermen and farmers needed a quick but filling lunch that didn’t require much effort. Traditionally, the friselle are dipped in salted water before dressing them with smashed chopped tomatoes, basil, oregano and even anchovies or capers.
A delicious recipe with very humble origins. Today it can be transformed in to a fancy picnic or BBQ dish for the summer. Although nowadays you can find already baked friselle quite easily in a lot of shops (very convenient, don’t blame you), you can attempt to make them from scratch by following my recipe below, where I’ve swapped anchovies and capers for a more indulgent Grana Padano cheese mousse.
Chef tip: Once cool and dry, the friselle can be stored in an airtight container or sealed in a bag for months (provided they are well dried)
Ingredients250 g of cherry tomatoes
250 g of datterini yellow tomatoes
Basil to garnish
6 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove
2 tbsp of white wine vinegar
1 tsp of dried oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
Grana Padano to garnish
For the friselle
190 g of water
2 g of fresh yeast
175 g of 00 flour
150 g of durum wheat (semola) flour
4 g of salt
80 g of grated Grana Padano
For the Grana Padano mousse
50 g of grated Grana Padano
100 ml of whipped cream (unsweetened!!)
100 g of cream cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
PreparationGet started with the friselle the day before. Prepare the starter by melting the yeast into 50 ml of water in a small bowl and then add 50 g of 00 flour and mix until well until combined. Cover with film, let it prove for 1.5 hours.
Now knead the remaining flour with the remaining water and when firm, add the starter and knead until smooth. Then add the salt and work the dough until it is absorbed. At this stage the dough should be quite elastic. Then, cover it and let it prove at room temperature for about 2 hours or until it’s doubled in size.
When ready, place the dough back onto the floured table and divide into 6. Roll each piece by hand into a sausage shape and join the ends to create a circle. Remember to press the ends as they have to stick together
Place the friselle gently on to a tray with parchment paper and let them rise for another hour
Bake at 220° C for about 15 minutes or until golden. Let them cool slightly and cut them in half with a bread knife. Put them back in the oven at 150° C for about 20 minutes or until dry
Remove from the oven and sprinkle them with grated Grana Padano. Bake for further 5 minutes to melt the cheese.
Now prepare the quick dressing.
Cut the tomatoes into halves and dress them with salt, pepper, extra virgin olive oil, a drizzle of vinegar, the smashed garlic clove, a pinch of oregano and a few basil leaves. Mix well and let them rest for 20 minutes in order to get as much flavour into the tomato water as possible
While the tomatoes are resting, prepare the Grana Padano mousse. Whip the cream and gently fold in the cream cheese and finely grated Grana Padano. Season to taste and place into a piping bag.
Now drizzle some oil on the friselle and pour over all the tomato water and allow them to soak. You don’t want soggy friselle, the water needs to be left on them just long enough to allow them to soften up, but I like there to be crunchy spots too. Now add the tomatoes, top with dots of mousse and grated Grana Padano. Garnish with basil leaves and enjoy!