5-Ingredient Taralli Recipe for an Italian Aperitivo (savoury Italian cookies)
Taralli are typical of the Italian tradition, more specifically in Puglia (or Apulia, depending on how you want to spell it) where the most famous taralli pugliesi are made. Although they can be both savoury and sweet, we all seem to be partial to the savoury ones, usually eaten during aperitivo accompanied by a few olives or as part of a starter/snack paired with charcuterie and cheese.
Needless to say, as all things carbs and Italian, taralli are absolutely delicious. They’re the perfect snack to have while chatting with friends over a glass of white wine (that you will use in the recipe, so you might as well take it out of the fridge) or over an Aperol Spritz. Or beer, really – anything will do!
This taralli recipe literally just needs 5 ingredients and it takes 20 minutes to prepare so you have no excuse! You can even go down to 4 if you choose to use just one type of oil (either all olive oil or vegetable oil), but I find that 100g of olive oil make this taralli recipe a bit too heavy. By using just 30g, you can still enjoy the subtle taste but the tarallo will be much lighter.
- 300 gr bread/white flour
- 100 gr dry white wine
- 30 gr olive oil
- 70 gr vegetable oil
- Optional aromas (rosemary, black pepper, fennel seeds etc)
- Start heating your oven at 190°C/375°F
- Mix together flour and salt (and add the aromas if you're using them)
- Add the vegetable oil, olive oil and dry white wine. Start mixing with your hands until the dough doesn't stick to your hands
- Take a piece of dough and roll it (approx. 4cm or 1.5in) and make a "knot" or small ring out of it. Place on a baking mat or baking paper and place in the middle of the oven for approximately 20 minutes
- Make sure that the taralli are properly cooked by cutting into one: it must be dry and friable, not soft
The perfect aperitivo: taralli and wine (or tarallucci e vino)
This pairing is so well known that we have an Italian say for that: tarallucci e vino, which seem to be symbol of how well the taralli go with classic Apulian wines such as Primitivo di Manduria, Nero di Troia or Negramaro (and this is coming from the Apulia’s region website, so it must be true).
And who am I to say they’re wrong? There is truly nothing better than a classic Italian aperitivo: a beautiful view, a glass of wine or even better Aperol Spritz, and a few snacks to have in the meantime. If you’ve been to Italy and are now craving a classic aperitivo, it’s time for you to step up your game and make it yourself.
It is true that nowadays you find all sorts of things when you go for an aperitivo – including pasta salad, couscous, sometimes even mini-lasagnas –but the classic aperitivo consists of taralli, olives, crisps and sometimes mini-pizzas. This is very regional and can vary (in Rome, you’ll most likely find some supplis laying around somewhere) but those are the 4 horses of the Aperi-calypse that you should know about.
The Origin of Taralli
So they say that the story goes back to the 15th century, when a mother from Apulia found herself with no money or food left to feed her children. She then decided to use whatever she had left in her house to make something for them – flour, oil, wine and salt. Those four ingredients were, and still are, staples in any Italian kitchen.
And the Origin of Aperitivo
It’s no secret that Italian love an aperitivo. Everyone seems to agree on the fact that aperitivo was (and still is) used as a way to open the stomach and stimulate the appetite (as if we need that), but when did this start?
There a few different theories: some people trace aperitivo back to Ancient Greece and that it was Hippocrates himself to advice his patients to have a bit of spiced wine as a pre-dinner drink. Romans supposedly took the spiced wine and made it more appetising to the palate, and it became a thing.
Fast forward to the 18th century, vermouth was invented – far from being the medical remedy that Hippocrates thought of, this liquor was now sold to the public, becoming very popular in Piedmont. And it’s in Piedmont that King Vittorio Emanuele II’s found out about it. Vermouth quickly became his pre-dinner drink of choice, making it the official court drink. This popularity then travelled all the way to Milan, opening the way to new brands coming around including Martini, Campari, and Cinzano.
Aperitivo in modern days include pretty much anything alcoholic (or not) you can think of and it’s not just limited to vermouth. Beer, wine, or light cocktails are all valid alternatives.