by gina depalma

This month we are traveling back again to Puglia, the heel of Italy’s boot. Once regarded as under-touristed, Puglia is enjoying a surge in visitors and a flurry of press attention. One of the most fascinating and diverse areas of Puglia is known as Puglia Imperiale, a reference to the reign of Emperor Frederick II of Swabia, a ruler who exerted great influence in Southern Italy and erected the amazing Castel del Monte.


In addition to excellent D.O.P. Olive Oil produced in Puglia Imperiale, local bakers make fine use of Puglia’s wheat harvest in the crunchy, delicious taralli, a specialty from the area. A refined version of an Italian pretzel, taralli are crunchy, curly-shaped biscuits that are boiled and then baked. Taralli are common to several regions of the south, but they are taken to another level in Puglia, also known as Italy’s “bread basket.”


If you have followed this column for a bit, you may remember that I first featured my taralli a few years ago, flavoring them with crushed red pepper flakes and herbs. This time around, I tried a sweeter variation, flavored with lemon zest and anise seed.


I will repeat my advice to not be afraid of the wetness of the dough. Just flour your board and your hands lightly and they will roll out with ease. “00” Flour will give these biscuits a characteristic lightness, but if you cannot find it in your local gourmet or specialty shop, it is fine to make the recipe entirely with all-purpose flour




2 cups “00” flour

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons kosher salt

½ cup granulated sugar

Freshly grated zest of 1 lemon

2 teaspoons anise seed

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons dry white wine

1 cup extra virgin olive oil

All-purpose or additional “00” flour for dusting the bowl