Christmas Italian Recipe Italian Appetisers


Pettole are puffed up, small balls of dough, that are crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, often dressed up with flavour-packed ingredients such as olives or anchovies, but also eaten plain.

The arrival of these unassuming yet very moreish morsels at the local bakeries often marks the beginning of the festive season in Southern Italy.

But there really is no reason to wait for the Holidays, prepare them at home with this simple recipe and celebrate the everyday with your friends and family. 

Makes 45-50 pettole

  • 500g plain flour, shifted
  • 12g active dry yeast
  • ½ tbs coarse salt
  • 375ml warm water
  • Oil for frying
  • 5 black olives, deseeded (optional)
  • 5 green olives, deseeded (optional)

This is a recipe easily prepared at home with its short list of common ingredients and relatively simple process of preparing a leavened dough.

In the various regions in Puglia, many home cooks find ways to personalise their pettole; some may add savoury ingredients such as finely chopped anchovies, or even pieces of salted cod in the dough.

Pettole can also be prepared as a sweet ending to a meal or a snack to accompany afternoon coffee if given a light brushing of honey or sugar.

In the festive season, try them dipped in a thick wine based syrup, as they do in some parts of Puglia.

Finally, make sure you have set aside enough time for the leavening which may take up to 2 hours, and get ready to get your hands a little messy!


Place the sifted flour in a medium bowl, and create a well in the centre.

Place the yeast in the well and add the water to dissolve the yeast.

Continue adding the water whilst mixing everything together with your hands.

Add the salt and continue to bring together the dough, kneading until it appears smooth and elastic.

This may take up to 15 minutes.

If you wish, at this point you may add finely chopped olives for added flavour: add them all to the dough, knead a little to distribute evenly.

Cover the bowl with plastic and allow to rise until it has approximately doubled in size, which may take up to 2 hours depending on the temperature in the room.

When the dough is ready, heat the oil in a medium pot for frying.

Using two dinner spoons, take a spoonful of the dough and carefully drop it into the oil by pushing it with the back of the other spoon.

Work in batches.

Fry the pettole until golden and puffy.

Remove and drain on kitchen towels.

Best served immediately for maximum crunch, but equally delicious to pick on throughout the course of the day.

Source and picture San Pellegrino

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