Testaroli al pesto

Testaroli al pesto


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One of the many delights hailing from the Lunigiana, testaroli get their name from the cast-iron pan in which they are cooked, the testo – a flat pan with two handles and a lid, originating from the Middle Ages and still very much in use in the area for all sorts of culinary preparations, from necci to roast lamb.

A dish of humble origins, it starts with a simple flour-and-water batter that’s first cooked in batches on the testo (or, at home, in a greased skillet) as if it were a large crepe. Then, these pancakes are cut into diamonds, which are plunged in boiling water before being tossed with the elected sauce.

Testaroli are classically seasoned with basil pesto (the local variant omits garlic, which I’ve shared below), though it’s not uncommon to find them simply drizzled with olive oil and topped with grated pecorino.

  • 600g of plain flour
  • 500ml of water
  • salt
  • Pesto

  • 90g of basil leaves
  • 20g of Parmesan, (use a similar cheese that uses vegetable rennet if serving to vegetarians)
  • 1 tbsp of pine nuts
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 120ml of extra virgin olive oil, plus more for covering the pesto
Prepare the testaroli batter by whisking flour and water together in a large bowl. It should be quite thick yet still spreadable – add more water if needed to reach the right texture
Set a large skillet over a medium heat and grease it with a drop of olive oil. Add a ladleful (about 100ml) of batter and tilt the skillet so that it spreads evenly and forms a layer that’s about 3mm thick (help it spread with a spatula). Cook until dry on the top. Gently flip the crepe – you can use a plate or lid to make the flipping easier, as it were a tortilla – and cook on the other side for a couple of minutes. Transfer to a plate and carry on until you run out of batter
Cut the crepes into diamonds. Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil
While you wait for the water to boil, make the pesto. Place all the ingredients except for the oil in a blender. Pour in half the oil and start pulsing in short, regular intervals to break down the ingredients. Slowly pour in the rest of the oil and carry on blending until you have a smooth, creamy, slightly loose pesto. Transfer to a small bowl, add a little more oil to cover the surface and then wrap in cling film until ready to use
Cook the testaroli in boiling water for about 5 minutes. Drain them with a slotted spoon and transfer them to a bowl. Top with the basil pesto and toss to dress evenly. Serve right away
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