2 minute read

Taralli are a tasty snack food from Puglia and can be quite addictive. These delicious little ring shaped crunchy bites can be either savory or sweet. Taralli are made from wheat and a few other ingredients. The consummate Pugliese treat, naturalmente,  has a story behind it as all good Italian treats do. So sit back and learn all about this tasty, crunchy snack food that saved the residents of Puglia from certain starvation during periods of famine.

The beautiful region of Puglia is located in southern Italy. The region is known for such iconic Italian treats as the pasta orecchiette and the delicious flaky and cream filled pastry pasticciotto. But it’s also where one of the more popular snack foods of Italy got its start.

What Are Taralli and How Were They Invented?

Taralli are a type of bread based snack that’s baked to a crunchy and satisfying finish. The taralli are ring-shaped and the rings are available in a variety of sizes from small to large, but the most widely recognized are the smaller ones that one can munch by the handful.

The story of how taralli came to be has various versions but the most popular is this:

In the 5th century AD southern Italy was in the throes of a desperate famine. During this time legend has it that a determined mother facing dire circumstances created the very first Pugliese taralli using ingredients she had on hand.

The first batch of taralli were crafted using wheat flour, wine, extra virgin olive oil and salt-the very items every Italian household had on hand. This act of creative ingenuity fed the mother’s hungry children and caught on to sustain a region and keep hunger at bay. Today this crunch snack is still a staple found in many homes throughout the region and the country.

What Makes Taralli So Enjoyable?

The name taralli, or the singular tarallo, is believed to have derived from the latin torrerre which means toast or toasted. There’s no doubt this snack is toasted to crunchy perfection which is part of its charm. Taralli are no longer just for sustenance. They are a preferred nosh of those in the know. You’ll find Pugliese taralli served as a common and traditional accompaniment to an aperitif and some folks enjoy their favorite snack soaked in wine or dipped in a tomato sauce.

How Are Taralli Made?

The ingredients used back then by that very resourceful Italian mama are the same ones still used today to create these perfect pieces of Puglia delights. Flour, salt, olive oil and white wine are combined just as they were nearly two millennia ago. All these ingredients are combined then rolled into sausage-like strands and formed into rings.

The cook then pops the rings into a pot of boiling water for mere seconds. Once the rings float to the top of the pot they are removed and drained on cheesecloth where they are left to cool. Once cooled to room temperature the taralli are placed on baking sheets and go into a hot oven until they are a lovely golden-brown and pleasingly crunchy.

You’ll find inventive versions of the original taralli such as those made with black pepper, fennel, multigrain, onion and more.

This go-anywhere snack adapts to all kinds of meals and makes a great take-along on outings such as picnics and beachside happy hour. The very versatility of taralli means no pantry is fully stocked without these little rings of deliciousness.