Pizza night is a fairly regular thing around here. It’s quick to make if you plan properly and can be made with literally anything we have in the kitchen and be guaranteed to be delicious. From a pie topped with sauteed greens and a few fried eggs to a slice with hot peppers and pineapple (a personal fave – don’t even get me started on pineapple haters!), there is pretty much always a way to make pizza work in a crunch. When I opened my PC Black Label Black Box this month to find some 00 Farina Fine Wheat Flour and a jar of Pizza Sauce I knew pizza was in the works. But in the spirit of the #PlayWithYourFood campaign, I felt that pizza was a little too common and predictable. This campaign is all about getting creative and experimenting.
If I’m making a batch of pizza dough, I try to make enough for two portions. This way, I can freeze one or save it to turn into some sort of cracker or flatbread but recently I’ve been thinking a lot (a lot) about Grissini, those skinny and impossibly crisp bread sticks you may have seen served on a cheeseboard or wrapped with a salty slice of prosciutto.
After this week’s pizza night (which we topped with hot Genoa, olives and mushrooms – daaaaayum it was good), I put my second batch in the fridge and made a test batch of Grissini in the morning. Warm from the oven they were crisp, salty and fragrant – how could any of those things not make for a home run? My only worry is that I may have awoken a monster. I also came to the conclusion that they desperately needed something warm and spicy to dunk into.
I’ve done a few more experiments with Grissini over the last weeks and found a recipe that I feel works really well and tastes light and crisp – the Italian 00 flour makes a big difference here due to it’s extremely finely milled grain. It provides a silky smooth and light/crisp dough every dang time.
Here I’ve served them with a generous spattering of za’atar, a Middle Eastern spice blend made with savory herbs like marjoram or thyme as well as earthy cumin and coriander and some added sesame seeds, salt and tangy sumac, both in the dough and on the outside of it for double-the-flavour. The amounts and varieties of herbs and ingredients in Za’atar vary from region to region, but I’ve never met one that I didn’t enjoy thoroughly – especially when crisp warm bread is involved. When cooked into the crisp Grissini, the spices become super fragrant and warm. Once dipped in a harissa-spiked pizza sauce, flecked with basil and oregano, you’ve got a snack worthy of just about any occasion. Make the dough the night before and place covered in the fridge and you can simply roll out the next day when company arrives or when you’re feeling a little peckish. Admittedly I ate most of these myself, crunching away while I worked at my computer. Before I knew it, I’d downed about 6 of them (no apologies here, though).
- FOR THE GRISSINI
- 1 teaspoon active dry yeast (from a ¼-ounce package)
- 1 cup warm water (105-115°F)
- ½ tsp honey
- 1¼ cups semolina flour
- 1½ cups PC Black Label Italian "00" flour
- 2 teaspoons salt
- ¼ cup Za'atar spice blend, Divided (1 tbsp IN dough, 3 tbsp ON dough)
- Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing
- 1 cup PC Black Label Italian "00" Flour, for roling out/dusting counter tops
- FOR THE HARISSA TOMATO SAUCE
- 1 jar (350ml) PC Black Label Pizza Sauce
- 2-4 tbsp PC Black Label Harissa Spice Blend, depending on spice tolerance
- ½ tsp fresh ground pepper
- FOR THE DOUGH:
- Mix the warm water, yeast and honey and let stand until frothy, 5-6 minutes.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, salt and 1 tbsp of the za'atar blend. Make a well in the center.
- Pour in the warm water/honey/yeast mixture into the well in the flour and start mixting everything together until a ball starts to come together. It will be a bit sticky. Dump onto a floured surface and knead a few times until you've got a smooth ball of dough.
- Grease a large clean bowl with olive oil and place the dough ball in it. Toss it about so it's coated in a bit of oil, we don't want it to dry out. Cover with a clean towel.
- Let it rest until doubled in size, 1-2 hours.
- Preheat oven to 400.
- Once it's doubled in size, place on a lightly floured surface and roll out into a large, round rectangle about ½" in thickness. Brush the whole thing with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with the remaining Za'atar blend. Cut long, finger width strips from the rectangle and twist/pull until you've got a long, thin bread stick (my strips were about ½" in thickness, but it's not a big deal if yours are thicker - they will still be delicious!)
- Place on a parchment or silicone mat lined baked sheet and bake, turning pan halfway through, for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown and crisp.
- FOR THE SAUCE
- Bring a small pot with the sauce, pepper and Harissa blend to a simmer. Taste and add more Harissa, if desired.
Disclaimer: I am part of the #PlayWithYourFood Campaign sponsored by Presidents Choice Black Label and receive compensation as part of my affiliation with this group. Regardless, I only work with brands I use personally and enjoy.