Several years ago I used to frequent a small town in Italy on the Adriatic coast called Riccione and there I discovered a delicious treat that would be a constant temptation–besides gelato–at every visit! It is called piadina.
What is Piadina?
The piadina was, for me, love at first sight. Most people, when I would describe it to them, would say, “Oh, itís kind of like an Italian tortilla!” Not quite!
I have not been attempting to whip these little wonders up here at home in the States for quite awhile as I am a wheat- and corn-free cook; even in restaurants my husband and I try as much as humanly possible to stay away from grain, especially wheat and corn. But when given a choice of what to eat and shop for, I stick with quinoa. However, yesterday at our local organic market, I spied spelt tortillas and I couldnít resist buying a package!
My wheels started turning as I remembered piadina. Then, I found myself in the cheese section with my spelt tortillas in hand and, will wonders never cease, there it was–stracchino! Stracchino is the Italian cheese that I would most often enjoy in my piadina on the Adriatica, but never found here in the States. I would have this along with some fresh arugula! I said to my husband, “Thatís it, I am going to make us piadina!”
Before I begin to share how I am now recreating the piadina at casa mia, I need to add that if you are one who would like to start the process from scratch, I have found a wonderful online guide on the making of piadina (as taught to a blogger who took a piadina course by some terrific people in Riccione, Italia!) I see no reason why you could not substitute an all purpose gluten-free flour, spelt or even quinoa. You may explore the guide here: How to Make a Piadina alla Romagnola.
Feel free to play with the recipe a bit to suit your dietary needs or do it the easy was as I did by just buying some organic spelt (or flour/whole grain) tortillas for a quick version!
Once you have gotten to the point of making the flatbread and have it in front of you, this is where the fun starts as you can add almost anything as a filling to make a piadina. Most afficianandos grill them up in a non-stick skillet or well-greased crepe pan (I use coconut oil) and then load them up with stracchino cheese or mozzarella. At this point, with the piadina in the pan, you can add the cheese to melt it a bit and then slide onto a plate or just spread the soft cheese once the piadina is heated. You can also top with soy cheese if you prefer non-dairy. Itís easy to make vegan or veggie versions, too. You can add sliced avocado, diced tomatoes with a little garlic and basil, then just add fresh arugula, and whatever you like such as; prosciutto or pancetta, grilled onions, black olives, sun dried tomatoes (I like to drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar on my diced veggies first), add dried or fresh basil or other fresh herbs, then just fold them over in half and enjoy! For a sweet version spread with Nutella! Voila–Piadina Adriatica!
With piadina you have the chance to be as creative as you like, just like pizza and/or panini. I hope you all get to visit the beautiful coastal town of Riccione and its environs one day and try the local cuisine, but until then, Buon Appetito!