I generally consider myself a one-stop shopper. I don’t mind running a couple of errands at a time, but in the same vein, I like for each errand to really pack a punch, so to speak.
I stopped shopping at Dominicks and started buying all my grocery items at Whole Foods for this very reason – I got tired of buying pantry items at one place, and meat/produce at the other, so one day I just sucked it up and decided that my grocery bill would just have to be a little higher each month, but in the end, the time saved would be worth it.
I’m also a huge fan of meals that don’t involve side items – the “one potters”, I think they’re called. Stews, chilis, the shunned casseroles – they all fall into this category. Often times I find myself making a killer chicken dish, or steak, or whatever really, and it’s just that – no side, no soup, no nothing but the one. little. dish.
But that one little dish took a while, and it tasted damn good. So what if there’s no side item? This ain’t no 4-star restaurant, last time I checked.
But in lieu of having a side dish, or a first course, or a dessert, and just having one little item, one’s stomach is usually growling within a couple of hours. I find this most problematic with soup; I love nothing more than a nice bowl of soup on a cold day or night, but I want something to chew on too, aside from the occasional veggie in the pool. If my life depended on it, I still probably couldn’t eat a lone bowl of soup without a cracker or two, a mini-baguette (or two), some croutons tossed in for good measure or, if all is the way I want it to be – a few breadsticks.
They (said breadsticks) typically come in crinkly plastic packages; they’re crunchy and somewhat messy, leaving remnants of sea salt on the tablecloth, not to mention a few crumbs at the mouth and flecks in the soup – stone cold evidence of dunking, which is the best way to eat them, I promise.
But these here, these come not in packages, but by way of a little mixing and a wee bit of kneading, rising, and rolling. Then baking, of course, but they get only a brief stint in the oven. They are perfect for just about any soup or stew and can be modified to your liking – I was in the mood for rosemary and nutty flavor offered by the flour of the whole wheat persuasion, but you could easily go for the all purpose, or swap in another flour or spice.
No matter how you craft your breadsticks, er, grissini, they roll out just the same – and they make those one-hit soups a little more substantial, that’s for sure.
Adapted from Food & Wine, October 2010; makes 3 dozen
time commitment: 2 hours, half of it active time
3/4 c water
1 c all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 c whole-wheat flour
1 T honey
1 package active dry yeast
3 T extra-virgin olive oil
1 t dried rosemary, finely chopped
1 T kosher salt
In a large bowl, stir the water with 1/2 cup of the flour (either one), the honey and the yeast. Let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes. Stir in the remaining 1 1/2 cups of flour, the olive oil, rosemary and salt and knead until a smooth dough forms. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 425 F. Line 3 large baking sheets with parchment paper (if you don’t have three and instead, you’re like me and you have 1, just do this one at a time). Punch down the dough and cut it into 4 equal pieces. On a floured work surface, roll out each piece of dough to a 6-by-10-inch rectangle. Cut the rectangles lengthwise into 1/2-inch-wide strips. Arrange the strips on the prepared sheets. Let stand until puffed, about 15 minutes.
Bake the grissini for about 15 minutes, until golden brown; switch the pans halfway through baking. Let the grissini cool and crisp on the baking sheet before serving.
Grissini can be made in advance by a couple of days and stored in an airtight container. The unbaked dough can also be frozen and thawed when ready for use.