Throughout the towns of Emilia-Romagna are little food stands, where piadina (flat bread) is grilled to order and sandwiched around a variety of fillings, like cheese and prosciutto. Paul Bartolotta describes piadina as Italy's defense against fast food—while it's fast to make, it's real food with a cultural past. His version is hearty and irresistible, especially when sandwiched with milky, fresh ricotta cheese, salty prosciutto and a vibrant arugula salad.
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3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
4 ounces lard or vegetable shortening (1/2 cup), at room temperature
3/4 cup water
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
1 1/2 cups fresh ricotta cheese
Freshly ground pepper
4 ounces baby arugula (4 cups)
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 pound thinly sliced prosciutto, mortadella or salami
How to Make It
In a standing electric mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the flour, baking soda and 2 teaspoons of salt. Add the lard and mix at medium-low speed until evenly combined. Slowly add the water, mixing until the dough forms a mass around the hook. Increase the speed to medium and knead until smooth, 5 minutes. Divide the dough into 6 pieces and roll each piece into a ball. Wrap the balls in plastic and let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 225°. Heat a cast-iron griddle until very hot. On an unfloured work surface, roll out each ball to a 10-inch round, about 1/8inch thick. Brush both sides of each round very lightly with oil and grill over moderate heat, turning once, until golden and cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes. Wrap in foil and keep the breads warm in the oven while you cook the rest.
In a small bowl, season the ricotta lightly with salt and pepper. In a medium bowl, toss the arugula with the 1 tablespoon of oil and the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Arrange 3 breads on a work surface and spread with the ricotta. Top with the prosciutto, followed by the arugula salad. Cover with the remaining breads, cut into quarters and serve warm.
This version of Emilia-Romagna's favorite street food pairs very well with the region's most famous wine: simple, appealing Lambrusco, a light, sparkling red made from a variety of local grapes.
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