Panzerotti Pugliesi are a traditional Apulian dish that is widespread throughout southern Italy: golden, crispy, deep-fried Italian turnover with a tasty filling inside.
Panzerotti are made with a leavened dough similar to pizza dough, stuffed and then fried. I chose the more classic and traditional tomato and mozzarella filling.
But there are many other fillings, as we will see, all related to traditional Apulian cuisine. You can even experiment with different fillings, depending on the ingredients you prefer or have on hand.
Panzerotti are perfect for a dinner with friends or even for a party. Depending on the size and number of panzerotti you eat, you can even consider panzerotti a complete single dish, just like pizza!
Panzerotti began as a humble dish made with leftover bread dough, but today they are a famous and appetizing street food.
Making homemade panzerotti is not difficult. Of course, you have to respect the rising time of the dough and some tricks.
To make them, we will need a few simple ingredients and you will see that they will be so good that they will go fast! So let’s see how to make authentic homemade panzerotti pugliesi, step by step.
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- Parmigiano Balls Recipe (Italian Quick and Easy Appetizer)
- Prep Time: 30 min + about 3 hours for the dough to rise
- Cook Time: 10 min
- Servings: 4-6 people (about 8 Panzerotti)
- 250 g (2 1/2 cups) of “00” flour
- 250 g (2 1/2 cups) of durum wheat remilled semolina flour
- 300 g (1 1/4 cups) of water, at room temperature
- 20 g (2 tablespoons) of extra virgin olive oil
- 10 g (2 teaspoons) of fine salt
- 7 g (1 1/2 teaspoons) of active dry yeast.
- 1 teaspoon of granulated sugar
- 300 g (1 1/2 cups) of tomato passata. Try Italian tomato passata by Mutti or make it at home with our tomato passata recipe
- 60 g (2 tablespoons) of grated Parmigiano Reggiano
- 350 g (12 oz) of Pizza Mozzarella
- fine salt to taste
- 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
How to Make Panzerotti Recipe: Instructions
Step 1) – To prepare the authentic Pugliese recipe for panzerotti, first mix the powders in a bowl: the “00” flour, the semolina and the yeast. Mix and add the sugar to activate the rising process.
Step 2) – In another bowl, pour the water. Add the salt, extra virgin olive oil and mix until the salt is dissolved.
PLEASE NOTE: The amount of water is only indicative. Much depends on the absorption of the flours used. Keep in mind that the dough should be firm but not hard and not sticky.
Now add the powders ( flours+yeast+sugar) little by little.
Step 3) – Mix well to combine the ingredients, even with your hands. Then knead until you get a ball, homogeneous, elastic but not sticky.
Step 4) – Put the dough on a lightly floured work surface. Knead until the dough is nice and smooth. Form a ball and place in a floured bowl.
Step 5) – Make a cross on the top. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 2 hours in a TURNED OFF oven.
Step 6) – While the dough is rising, cut the mozzarella into cubes.
PLEASE NOTE: It’s best to use dry, firm pizza mozzarella. If you have fresh mozzarella in its whey, be sure to drain the liquid very well. After cutting the mozzarella into small pieces, put them in a sieve for about 30 minutes to release as much liquid as possible.
Finally, in a bowl, add the mozzarella, the tomato passata, a pinch of salt and the grated Parmigiano Reggiano.
Step 7) – Add the oil, then mix with a spoon and put aside.
Step 8) – Once the dough has risen, place it on the lightly floured pastry board. Knead a little with your hands and shape into an loaf. Then cut the loaf into balls.
Step 9) – The balls should weigh about 80 grams ( 2.8 oz) each. You will get 8-10 pieces of dough. Place the well rounded balls of dough on a tray covered with a dish towel. Let them rise again at room temperature for about 1 hour.
Step 10) – At the end of this second rising, roll out the balls of dough with a rolling pin. Shape them into disks that are not too thin.
Step 11) – Place about two tablespoons of the filling in one half of the circle, about 3 cm (~1 inch) from the edge.
To seal the panzerotti well, moisten the edges of the circle with a little water.
Step 12) – Fold the unseasoned part over the filled part to form a crescent.
Press the edges of the panzerotti well, first with your fingers and then with the tines of a fork.
Step 13) – Heat the oil in a pot with high sides but not too large a diameter, so that you can fry a maximum of 2 panzerotti at a time, letting them float in the oil while cooking.
Put a toothpick in the oil. When you see a lot of bubbles around it, the oil is ready to be used. Alternatively, you can use a kitchen thermometer. The correct temperature for frying is 175°C (350°F).
Fry the panzerotti until golden brown on both sides, about 4 minutes. Turn the panzerotti several times during cooking with a wooden spoon or skimmer.
When the Panzerotti Pugliesi are cooked and evenly browned, drain them on paper towels to remove excess oil.
The Panzerotti are ready! Serve them hot.
As always with fried foods, I recommend that you eat the panzerotti immediately, freshly fried and still hot, with the filling still stringy.
If you want, you can freeze the panzerotti raw, already stuffed, and then fry them while still frozen.
Panzerotti Recipe: Some Variations
There are many popular fillings related to the Apulian tradition. I will give you a hint of the most common ones.
- HERBS: I have suggested the most classic and always delicious filling: mozzarella and tomato. If you like, you can add a fresh basil leaf or a pinch of dried oregano to your mozzarella and tomato panzerotti.
- HAM PANZEROTTI: In the Taranto area, for example, panzerotto with mozzarella and ham is very common. With or without tomato.
- PANZEROTTI WITH MEAT AND MOZZARELLA: Brown some minced meat in a pan with a little oil. Let it cool. Then add diced mozzarella, a beaten egg, grated Parmigiano Reggiano and a little salt.
- PANZEROTTI WITH TURNIP TOPS: Cook the turnip tops and brown them in a pan with garlic and chili. Let them cool. Add the diced mozzarella. It’s important to drain the water from the turnip greens well.
- ONION PANZEROTTI: In a frying pan, fry one sliced onion and two anchovies in a little oil. Let it cool down. Then add the diced mozzarella and some stoned olives.
- PANZEROTTI WITH RICOTTA: In a bowl, put the drained ricotta, an egg, a little salt and pepper and two tablespoons of grated Parmigiano.
Frying in oil, preferably peanut oil, remains the best and most traditional cooking method.
Remember to use a not too large pot and plenty of oil: the panzerotti should float in the oil while frying.
BAKED PANZEROTTI: If you prefer a lighter dish, you can bake the panzerotti. The recipe is the same. Once you have sealed the edges of the panzerotti well, place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 200°C (390°F) for about 15 minutes. I recommend brushing the panzerotti with egg yolk or olive oil or a little tomato passata before baking.
What is the Best Flour for Panzerotti
In my recipe I use a mixture, in equal parts, of “00” flour and semolina flour.
But you can use only fine remilled durum wheat semolina. In fact, panzerotti made — in whole or in part — with semolina flour absorb less oil in frying than those made with “00” flour alone. They therefore turn out crispier, lighter and tastier.
Some people, however, use only “00” flour. So if you cannot find fine remilled durum wheat semolina, you can use just 500 g (1.1 pound) of “00” flour.
Panzerotti Vs Calzone
Panzerotti and calzone are both original and typical preparations of the southern Italian regions (Campania, Puglia, Basilicata, Calabria, but also widespread in Lazio).
Both originate from the cucina povera, as we will see later. With the leftover bread or pizza dough, people made a sort of hot-pocket stuffed with mozzarella and tomatoes or other ingredients.
The recipe for calzone and panzerotti is similar, but there is a significant difference between panzerotti and calzone in the way they are cooked.
If the stuffed turnover are fried, they are called panzerotti, but if they are baked, like pizza, they are called calzone.
Panzerotti are generally smaller than calzone, but this depends on the area and its customs.
Panzerotti Recipe: Origins
Official tradition places the birth of panzerotti in Bari in the 16th century, at a time when the tomato was just beginning to appear on Italian tables and in Italian recipes.
Legend has it that it was invented by chance by a housewife who wanted to make a crescent-shaped pasta filled with tomatoes and mozzarella cheese.
It’s believed that panzerotti, like many other traditional Italian dishes, were born in a humble context where nothing could be wasted.
Thus, the ingenuity of some ancestors gave birth to a new recipe, the goodness of which later made it immortal.
Today Panzerotti fritti are known in Italy and abroad as a typical Puglian fry.
They are one of the most popular street foods. So much so that July 15th is celebrated as National Panzerotto Day.