You know gelato and you know espresso, but do you know piada? These delicious sandwich wraps are sold on street corners throughout Italy, particularly in Emilia-Romagna, and are filled with everything from prosciutto and arugula to nutella and bananas. No plane tickets are necessary, though. Piada are incredibly easy to make at home.
Think of piada (also called piadina) as a cross between Middle Eastern pita breads and Mexican flour tortillas. They're rolled out to the size of dinner plates and baked on a flat griddle or grill. Pricking them with a fork keeps them from puffing up, and the final texture is simultaneously soft, chewy, and tender.
You can eat piada any number of ways. My favorite is to simply fold it over on its filling and eat it like a taco. You can also wrap it up like burrito or into a cone, or layer a second piadina on top to make the Italian version of a quesadilla.
When it comes to fillings, the sky is the limit. Think of your favorite Italian flavors and ingredients, and they've probably found their way into a piada at some point. Take a look at the suggested fillings below the recipe for some inspiration.
What are your favorite piada fillings?!
4 1/2 cups (23 oz) all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1.5 teaspoons kosher salt
1/3 cup (2 oz) lard or vegetable shortening
1 1/2 cups (12 oz) water
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Drop the lard into the flour and use your fingertips to gently work the lard into the flour until no large pieces remain. Make a well in the center of the mixture and pour in the water. Stir with a spatula until a shaggy dough is formed. It's ok if not all the flour is absorbed at this point.
Turn the dough out onto your counter and knead the dough for 8-10 minutes, until it forms a soft and uniform ball. Alternatively, you can knead the dough in a standing mixer with a dough hook on low speed for 5-8 minutes.
Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl, cover, and let it rest for about 30 minutes. The dough can also be refrigerated for several days.
When ready to cook, transfer the dough to your work surface and divide it into 6-8 pieces (6 pieces for large piadine, 8 for small ones). Shape each piece of dough into a roll and cover.
Set a cast iron skillet or griddle over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot enough that droplets of water sizzle as soon as they hit the surface, begin cooking the piadinas. Use a rolling pin to roll the first piada out as thin as possible, about 9 inches across and 1/8 inch thick. Roll it over the rolling pin (like transferring pie dough) or drap it over your palm, and quickly settle it in your pan. Prick the piadina all over with a fork to prevent it from puffing up.
Cook for one minute on each side, or until you start seeing toasted brown spots all over the piadina. Transfer the cooked piadina to a clean dishtowel and cover with another dish towel to keep it warm. Continue preparing the rest of the piada as described above.
Cooked piada are best when eaten right away, but will keep in a plastic bag on the counter for a few days. If you're not planning to eat all the piada right away, it's best to refrigerated the dough and bake the piada as you need them.
Fillings to Try!
• Prosciutto, arugula, and mozzarella
• Bacon, lettuce, tomato
• Grilled chicken and pesto
• Grilled portobello and brie
• Grilled eggplant with goat cheese
• Nutella and fruit
• Peanut butter and jam
• You can replace up to half the all-purpose flour in this recipe with whole wheat flour, cornmeal, or other whole grain flour.
• You can also replace up to half of the water with milk
• Try mixing minced fresh herbs or other spices directly into the dough for a flavored piadina.
• Piadinas can also be cooked on an outdoor grill following the same cooking times.
(Images: Emma Christensen)