Ciao Italia: My Lifelong Food Adventures in Italy
Mary Ann's newest book contains over 150 recipes, 60 gorgeous food photos, and many scenic pictures of Italy taken by Mary Ann on her travels through the years.
Libretti are small pizzas folded in half, like a book, and then eaten out of hand. The inspiration for this recipe comes from the many versions of libretti I've sampled all over Italy. Mine are made with a yeast dough that is first brushed with hot red and green peppers that have been cooked in olive oil, and then embedded with oil-cured black and brine-cured green olives.
The recipe makes sixteen libretti; they never last long, but you can freeze any leftovers. You can also divide the dough in half rather than into smaller pieces and make two sixteen-inch pizze from this recipe.
2¼ cups warm (110 to 115ºF) water
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
6 to 6 ½ cups King Arthur™ Unbleached, All-Purpose Flour
¼ cup Filippo Berio Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
1 small hot red pepper, diced
1 small hot green pepper, diced
½ cup oil-cured black olives, pitted and chopped
½ cup Sicilian green olives in brine, drained, pitted, and chopped
Pour ¼ cup of the warm water into a large bowl and stir in the yeast. Let the yeast proof for about 10 minutes, until foamy.
Add the remaining 2 cups warm water and 5 cups of the flour to the yeast mixture. Mix with your hands; add the additional flour as needed until a smooth ball of dough is formed. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes.
Lightly grease a large bowl with olive oil, add the dough, and turn to coat with the oil. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 2 hours.
In a small skillet, heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the red and green peppers and cook for about 2 minutes, pressing on them with the back of a wooden spoon to release their flavor. Set aside.
Mix the black and green olives together in a small bowl.
Preheat the oven to 425ºF. Lightly grease two cookie sheets. Punch the dough down and knead it on a floured surface for 4 to 5 minutes. Divide the dough in half and roll each piece into a 12-inch circle. Pour half the oil and pepper mixture over each piece and use a pastry brush to brush the mixture evenly over the dough. Roll each piece up like a jellyroll and then into a ball, and knead again until the peppers are well distributed.
Divide each piece of dough into 8 pieces. Roll each piece into a 5-inch circle. Sprinkle the olive mixture evenly over the pizze, pressing the olives into the dough with your fingers.
Brush the tops with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Place the pizze on lightly greased cookie sheets and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the crust is nicely browned. Serve warm, and fold in half to eat.
This recipe is from CELEBRATIONS ITALIAN STYLE by Mary Ann Esposito, published by William Morrow and Company, Inc., in 1995.