Discover with us the tried and tested recipe for homemade Piadina alla Romagnola, its history and origins from the Middle Ages to the present days.
Seaside air and summer air in Rimini. Every Italian or tourist going to Romagna connects the fine sand of the waterfront beach and the brightly coloured bathing establishments with the scent of the street carts or the little shops baking piadina every moment of the day. But how to make piadina?
Piadina alla romagnola is the iconic dish symbol of this vibrant riviera. This is well known by Italian and foreign tourists who flock, not only in summer, to the coasts of Romagna. In this article, we will try to give you more information about piadina alla romagnola and the official recipe. Shall we start?
Piadina alla Romagnola: origins
The origins of piadina date back to Roman times, when it was very common to use flour, water and fat to prepare a special flat bread in the Mediterranean tradition. The same bread is found today in different variants in many countries around the world, from Saudi Arabia and India to Central America, Greece, Sweden, as well as in Jewish and African traditions. The first circular and then half-moon shape - when filled and closed - of the piadina alla romagnola that we know today was developed in the Romagna area during the Middle Ages. In the past, piadina was in fact above all a poor food, eaten by peasants and prepared with simple ingredients that were easily available and required quick and easy cooking.
At the time, it was cooked on hot stones or terracotta pans: it was the women of the family who prepared the piadina and often the cooking techniques and recipes were handed down from mother to daughter, so the tradition of preparing and eating piadina was passed down from generation to generation. Over time and centuries, with the arrival of new cooking techniques and new raw materials, the tradition of the piadina has evolved and been enriched with new ingredients, and its popularity has grown well beyond the borders of Romagna and Emilia-Romagna, becoming one of the most loved and recognised dishes throughout Italy. The Piadina Romagnola, or Piada Romagnola alla Riminese has in fact obtained IGP (Protected Geographical Indication) certification to protect the original product.
Piadina alla romagnola today
Today, the piadina is served in many different grain variations - 00 flour, Buckwheat, Whole Wheat, Gluten Free - and with different stuffings, from the classic combination of prosciutto crudo, squacquerone and arugula, to other options that include other cold cuts and cheeses, or vegetables and even sweets. Besides being a tasty and versatile dish, it also represents a piece of Italian culinary history.
Rimini: dove è nata la Piadina alla Romagnola
How to cook piadina
Ingredients for 6 'piadine':
Flour 00 500 g
Lard 125 g
*you can use 80 g extra virgin olive oil instead of lard for the vegetarian variant
Water at room temperature 170 g
*for a softer piadina, replace part of the water with milk
Fine salt 15 g
Baking soda 1 1/2 teaspoons
Prepare the dough by combining flour, salt, lard (or oil) and baking soda in a bowl. Knead everything together and gradually add all the water (or water and milk) into the bowl in 3 times. Move the mixture to a work surface and continue to mix until it forms a ball.
Wrap your ball in a clean kitchen towel and let it rest for half an hour.
At this point, remove the dough from the towel and divide it into 6 portions. Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface so that each portion has the shape of a smooth, even ball, roll them up again and let them rest for another 30 minutes.
With a rolling pin, roll out the 6 portions of dough to a thickness of 2 to 3 millimetres, using a pastry cutter or circularly cut aluminium foil.
Heat up the griddle, once hot cook the piadina for 2 minutes on each side until golden brown, turning continuously clockwise to ensure even cooking.
Stuff your piadina alla romagnola with squacquerone cheese, rocket and raw ham, or chard and spinach, (delicious with Nutella) and any other combination you want to try your piadina will be great.
Tip: remember to fill your piadina while it is still hot, so that when you close it and give it its typical half-moon shape, the ingredients will be well sealed by the dough and you won't risk getting dirty!