Panzerotti are so Italian that there is no a real translation into English, like pasta, pizza or focaccia.
They are prepared with a dough similar to that of pizza or focaccia (see tips) and are stuffed with tomato and mozzarella, closed to a half moon shape and then deep fried until golden brown. A delight for the palate, to which it is hard to resist … one leads to another.
They trace back their origin to the peasant tradition of Apulia, in particular to Bari (a beautiful Medieval port city). They are an example of how you can prepare an appetizing dish with a few simple ingredients. We often confuse panzerotti and calzoni, and actually there really is a difference: panzerotti are fried (therefore really tasty), while calzoni are baked in the oven (lighter).
Panzerotti can be served either as an appetizer (I suggest a smaller size) or as a hearty snack. My daughter loves them; I usually prepare them for dinner as a main course accompanied by a seasonal salad. The recipe with tomato and mozzarella is classic, and you can add a pinch of oregano for some aroma or some ham for a richer flavor.
Panzerotti are very versatile – use your creativity to determine which is the best filling for you. Last but not least sweet, nutella-filled panzerotti are delicious, too!
Preparation time: 15 minutes Resting time: 60-70 minutes Cooking time: 15 minutes Servings: 4
500 g (3 1/2 cups) high-gluten flour (Manitoba)
300 ml water (1 cup + 3 tablespoons) at 38°C, 100 °F
10- 15 g (2-3 teaspoons) salt, according to your taste (I use 10 g)
10 g (2 teaspoons) sugar
1 package (7 g; 1 heaping teaspoon) dried yeast or 1 cube (25 g; about 1 ounce) fresh yeast
Italian extra vergin olive oil for frying
12 tablespoons tomato sauce
450 g (1 pound) mozzarella cheese for pizza, cut into small cubes
1. In a small pitcher dissolve sugar and yeast in lukewarm water. Sugar is the so-called “nourishment” for the yeast
2. In a large glass bowl mix flour and salt. Add water and mix well with a wooden spoon until incorporated
3. Remove the dough from the bowl and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface; knead briefly for about 5-7 minutes. Do not add too much flour otherwise the dough will get tough
6. Divide the dough in 12 small balls of equal size. Arrange the dough on a tray 5 cm (2 inch) apart. Let rise in a warm, draft-free place (about 25°C, 77°F) for about 60-70 minutes until doubled
7. Remove the dough from the tray. On a lightly floured surface press down each ball with the palm of your hand and roll with a pin until you have a disk of 12 cm (about 5 inch) diameter
8. Place a spoon of tomato sauce on each disk, spreading a little bit. Add a handful of mozzarella. Fold over to make a half moon shape. Press the edges tightly together. It is an important step to prevent the filling from spilling out during cooking
9. Heat the oil in a deep sauce pan to 180°C (375°F). Fry panzerotti for 1-2 min. on each side, turning only once, until golden. Drain on paper towel and serve immediately. Paola