The story of my piadina recipe started with a book, alas, out of print now — Grilled Cheese: 50 Recipes to Make You Melt by Marlena Spieler. I saw it in a second-hand book shop. It called to me and sang the song of my people, cheeeeeeese.
I flipped it open and selected the first recipe I wanted to try: Fresh Mozzarella, Tomato, Thai Basil, and Gorgonzola Piadine. The idea of this “grilled cheese” on folded flatbread made me salivate just looking at the words on the page. One problem: it called for piadina or, in a pinch, flour tortillas. And I wasn’t entirely certain of the difference between the two.
I’m not talking about the tortillas you buy in the supermarket. I use those for wraps and burritos all the time — they’re great as containers for tons of other fresh, flavorful ingredients, but they don’t really bring their own special magic to a meal. No, I’m talking about homemade flour tortillas — the bubbly, flexible flatbread that occasionally outright steals the show.
After some strategic research, I discovered that, while both are flour-based flatbreads, tortillas traditionally incorporate lard, and piadina get their fat from olive oil. Which meant — to my great amusement — that the flour tortilla recipe I adapted to suit my own tastes years ago? It’s actually a piadina recipe.
From piadina novice to piadina expert in 30 seconds flat
So, I already had a trusty piadina recipe — self-rising flour, salt, extra virgin olive oil, and warm milk. Excellent! Then I looked at the melty goodness of the sandwich I wanted to make. Then I looked back at my piadina dough. And I thought, I can make this even better.
Out came the herbs and spices.
The dough comes together quickly. I knead it by hand for 2-3 minutes and then shape it into a ball, cover it with a damp towel, and allow it to rest 20-30 minutes. I then divide it into eight sections, roll them into balls, cover, and let the dough rest 20 minutes more.
They cook in a minute flat — 30 seconds per side in a hot, hot, hot cast iron skillet. Flip when the dough has bubbles rising across its surface.
And when they’re all done and in a stack? I love these for so many different things, including, of course, the grilled cheese sandwich that started it all. But beyond that I make them all the time for garlic-broccoli tacos, breakfast egg sandwiches — basically, anything where I want a flexible flatbread packed with yum. You just can’t go wrong with these little beauties! They fold divinely and are strong enough to hold even a gooey drippy tomato and cheese filling.
Pro-tip: layer any fillings or toppings on the flat side of the piadina. You want the bubbly side to form the outside of your sandwich. The air bubbles against your tongue give this bread its light and airy feel.