Pane bello

Italians love their bread. They have all kinds of variations- focaccia {made with Olive oil}, Schiachiatta {a flatbread stuffed with grapes and typically made during the harvest time}, grissini {breadsticks} and all kinds of regional breads with variations indigenous to a specific province.

One of my most favorite new finds is a flatbread from the Italian island of Sardinia. It is sometimes called pane carasau {round bread} or carta di musica {music sheets}. I call it Pane Rustico {rustic bread} because it has been around for centuries and is still made in the traditional artisan way. Its dough is made of flour, water and yeast and rolled out into paper thin sheets about 12-14 inches in diameter. It is then par baked over ceramic tiles. It comes in packages of of 25 sheets and is ready to bake or grill for the most delicious snack, antipasti or used as a base for a salad.

How to make it:

Brush each sheet with a thin coat of extra virgin olive oil.
Sprinkle with aromatic savory salts made with fresh herbs.
Bake in 350 degree oven or put on a low flame grill for 5 minutes, or just until golden brown.
Serve with artisan cheeses, dried figs and marcona almonds or place on platter and layer with a fresh arugula and shaved parmesan salad.

Here is a recipe inspired by one of my favorite salads from local Atlanta Chef Shaun Doty of Shaun's restaurant. He has been serving it for years. We love making it in our own kitchen often. Buonissimo!

2 large handfuls of baby arugula leaves
1 wedge of Parmesan {for shaving}
1 shallot, peeled and chopped finely
1 Tablespoon cabernet or red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive Oil
1 sheet Pane Rustico flatbread*

Wash and dry the arugula leaves.
With a vegetable peeler, shave the Parmesan cheese into thin shards until you have around a quarter cup or so.
In a small bowl, add the shallot, vinegar, salt and pepper. Slowly whisk in the olive oil until blended well.
Gently toss the arugula just until the leaves are lightly coated. {you may not need all of the vinaigrette-best to add less to start}. Place on a sheet of cooked pane rustico. Top with shaved Parmesan cheese.
Makes a antipasti selection, salad course or a main course when topped with grilled salmon or pulled roasted chicken.

** you can find Pane Rustico under one of the names mentioned at Buon Italia {} or purchase on my website:

Buon Appetito!
copyright 2007 Alisa Barry

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