Panzerotto is the perfect match between simplicity and delicacy of Apulian cuisine. Fried or baked, savoury or sweet, it will be love at first bite!
If you want to taste something delicious, if the smell of good food makes you drool, if you’re not afraid to ‘board and taste’ risking to burn your tongue, then you’ll simply be crazy for his majesty: panzerotto.
There’s no travel in Apulia without trying this delicacy, especially in Bari where it’s acknowledged as agricultural traditional product or PAT (Prodotto Agroalimentare Tradizionale in Italian). This article aims to discover together the features, origins and how to enjoy this amazing dish. Are you ready? Let’s go!
What are panzerotti?
Panzerotto originated from the southern Italian tradition of past centuries and represents a perfect example of that poor cuisine, as simple as delicious, which today still makes Apulians table great - especially on important occasions.
How was the first panzerotto made? Let's try to imagine. A bit of leftover bread dough worked on the board by skilled hands, turning it into a small kind of pizza. A filling made of tomatoes and cheese, probably two of the few ingredients widely available in that age. The brilliant idea of closing the dough on itself, giving it the iconic crescent shape, then proceeding to fry in seed oil or bake and then taste.
History speaks by itself, but today (fortunately!) savoring this goodness is a moment of pleasure that can be granted everyday walking by the streets of Apulian towns and villages.
Panzerotti's traditional recipe from Bari
From the top to the bottom of Apulia there are tens of different versions, each one surely delicious and worthy to be tasted. But the real panzerotto pugliese stands by a very specific traditional recipe that can be savored especially in the area of Bari.
First of all, the dough. How can panzerotti be so golden and crunchy? The secret lies in the mix of flours between classic plain and durum wheat semolina, typical of the Italy’s heel. Another hack for this kind of preparations refers to the use of fizzy water instead of still water, perfect to make the dough tastier, more elastic and lighter.
As for the filling tradition dictates about the evergreen match of mozzarella and tomato sauce, seasoned with olive oil and salt. For those who look for more intense flavors, optional ingredients can be black pepper and/or a light coating of grated cheese.
Of course, since there’s no limit set in terms of creativity when it’s time to cook, panzerotti’s recipe perfectly adapts to numerous alternative variants, each one better than the other. Any examples? Minced meat, turnip greens, provolone and mortadella, onions and olives.
Panzerotto as dessert
Are you in the sweet mood? No sooner said than done! Traditional panzerotto, for the boldest serial tasters around can occasionally be transformed into a succulent unconventional dessert with a polished taste.
The most delicious version of sweet panzerotti, known as ficarelli in Apulia, is prepared with the typical salty dough and a filling based on fig jam, sometimes topped with lemon peels or chopped nuts such as walnuts or almonds. In this case, cooking is done only by baking.
Where and how to eat panzerotti in Bari
Panzerotto is a complete and unique dish that can be eaten as main meal or even as a tasty snack - one leads to another, just saying! - and for the people of Bari having a homemade panzerottata with family and friends is always magical, a symbol for birthday parties, eves and moments of celebrations.
But if you are visiting the Apulian capital and want to try your delicious golden crescent, here are some useful tips to keep in mind about where and how to eat panzerotti in Bari.
Let’s start about where. The good news is that here panzerotto is also and above all a very popular street food available in so many places around the city: pizzerias, delis, bakeries and don’t forget about panzerotterie, places which specialized in the making of this delight. Our advice? A steaming panzerotto with a ‘sweaty’ beer, enjoying a walk along the famous seaside promenade or on the Old Town walls.
Let’s turn to how. Good news here too: panzerotto is a democratic food, for all tastes and above all for all budgets. Beware, however, of its (only) flaw. We mentioned earlier in this article the possibility of getting burned - and dirty - by taking a first bite of your panzerotto. We advise you to taste it very slowly for two reasons: to avoid this unnecessary risk but, especially, to reserve an extra bite of pleasure.
Fried or baked? Savoury or sweet? Whatever your choose, panzerotto will remain a wonderful memory of your trip to Bari.
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