Crisp and indulgent, this traditional olive-oil deep-fried flatbread from Sicily makes for the perfect snack.

Don’t you think you will ever get close to knowing everything about Italian cuisine.

When it comes to Italian food, the first thing that comes to mind undoubtedly will be pasta, pizza, risotto and perhaps gelato. Yet the Italian cuisine actually offers a great variety of ingredients and cooking methods. As you move through the different Italian regions from north to south, you will find a lot of similarities but also many traditional foods rooted in a particular area that you will not encounter often (if at all) in other parts of the country.

Tarongia: The Sicilian Flatbread That Will Become Your New Favourite Pizza

The huge diversity of Italy’s cuisine is not that surprising if you look at the history of the country. Which indeed become one country (the Kingdom of Italy) in 1871 only. Before, the area we know today as Italy was home to many small kingdoms and city-states governed by different leading families and often under rule of foreign conquerors. Leaving behind a lot of different influences, including ingredients used in local recipes.

Sicily in particular has seen so many different influences over time and the local cuisine is still heavily influenced by the different nations that once have ruled over the island. The Phoenicians of North Africa, Islamic Moors, Greeks, Romans, Normans, and Spanish all have left their mark and many of their traditional dishes are still part of the food you will find on the island today.

Tarongia: The Sicilian Flatbread That Will Become Your New Favourite Pizza

Sicily also claims to be the first place where pasta was created, and the famous Italian Pasta alla Norma is indeed originating in Sicily. Yet among the main ingredients used in local cuisine are fried foods, fish, olive oil, sweet-sour sauces, and dried fruits.

In my opinion, some of the most awesome dishes still common in Sicily are those going back to the time the island was under Moorish rule.

If you love pizza and Asian food, you must try this recipe.

Tarongia sits somewhere between a flatbread and pizza. It is made based on a dough that is first deep-fried in olive oil and then grilled. The fennel-tomato topping with anchovies gives it a unique sweet-sour flavour.

It’s a great snack to be enjoyed with some of the island’s excellent wines, but also works well as a main course.

Tarongia: The Sicilian Flatbread That Will Become Your New Favourite Pizza

Recipe originally from ‘Moorish’ cookbook by Ben Tish

Recipe: Tarongia: Sicilian Olive Oil Fried Flatbread with Anchovies

Serves 6

For the dough
50 ml red wine
240 ml lukewarm water
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
7g dry yeast
425 g all-purpose flour
zest from one lemon
½ teaspoon sea salt

For the topping
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 fennel, cored and finely chopped
80 g dried tomatoes
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
1 red chili, finely chopped
200 g anchovies
100 g pecorino, grated
some stalks of thyme
salt and pepper for seasoning

1 litre olive oil for frying

In a large blow, mix water, wine, oil, and honey. Stir in dry yeast and set aside until the yeast starts to become active and foamy.

Add 5-6 tablespoons of the floor, lemon zest, and salt and whisk together. Add the remaining flour and combine into a soft dough. Add a little bit more flour if still too wet. Form into a ball, place back into the bowl and cover with a kitchen towel. Leave to rise in a warm place for around one hour until doubled in size.

On a work surface, knead the dough once again, then divide in six equal pieces.

Roll out each piece into a circle. Leave to rest for another 15 minutes.

In the meantime, prepare the topping.

Heat olive oil in a small saucepan. Add fennel and season with salt and pepper. Cook until tender and slightly browned, for about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, onion, and chili and continue to cook for another 3 to 5 minutes. Set aside.

In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil to around 170°C. It will be ready when its starts to form constant bubbles. Make sure the oil does not get too hot, otherwise the dough will form bubbles.

Carefully lower the dough into the hot oil using a flat spatula. Fry for 2-3 minutes until golden-brown then flip over to the other side and repeat the process until the other side is golden-brown as well.

Transfer to a rack covered with kitchen towels to let dry.

Repeat the process with the other pieces.

Preheat the grill in your oven to a high temperature.

Distribute the fennel-tomato mix among the flatbreads. Top with the anchovies and pecorino. Grill for 3 to 5 minutes until the cheese has melted and taken a light golden-brown colour.

Sprinkle with thyme.

Tarongia: The Sicilian Flatbread That Will Become Your New Favourite Pizza