Why It Works
- Traditional testaroli that are cooked in a blazing hot cast iron vessel don't use leavening like baking powder, but here it helps create a more authentic texture in a home kitchen.
- When cooked in the original vessel, testaroli are cooked on one side, not flipped; here we cook on both sides to guarantee that the pancakes dry enough for a better final texture.
- Traditional recipes say to soak the testaroli in boiling-hot water for a few minutes, but here we add them to the water and then drain right away; this helps make sure our home version doesn't become too water-logged and soggy.
Do you like dipping your bread into olive oil or using it to mop up the sauce on your plate? If so, then you need to know about testaroli, the Tuscan dish of crêpe-like pancakes that are treated like pasta and tossed with pesto sauce. Here's how to make them at home.
- 10 ounces flour (About 2 cups or 300 grams)
- 20 ounces water (2 1/2 cups or 575 grams)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- Vegetable or canola oil, for greasing
- 1 recipe Pesto Sauce (see note)
- Torn basil leaves and grated pecorino or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for serving
Preheat oven to 550°F and set a well-seasoned cast iron skillet inside to preheat.
Meanwhile, combine flour, salt, and baking powder in a large mixing bowl. Slowly add water, whisking constantly, to form a smooth crêpe-like batter. Whisk vigorously for 1 minute to help aerate batter. Let rest 20 minutes.
Remove skillet from oven and grease with vegetable oil. Add enough batter to skillet, swirling, to cover entire bottom surface in a thin, even layer. Set over high heat and cook until browned and crisp on the bottom, about 3 minutes.
Using a thin metal spatula, lift pancake and flip. Cook on other side until browned in spots, about 1 minute. Transfer pancake to a rack or clean paper towel to cool. Wipe skillet clean, grease, and repeat with remaining batter. Try not to stack pancakes once done: You want them to dry, not steam.
Cut pancakes into roughly 2-inch diamond shapes. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, then remove from heat. Add pancake pieces until all are submerged, then drain in a colander right away.
Transfer pancakes to a large, clean mixing bowl and toss gently with pesto. Spoon testaroli on plates, top with basil leaves and more grated cheese and serve.
Cast iron skillet
In place of pesto, you can also toss the testaroli with a very simple mixture of extra virgin olive oil, torn basil leaves, and grated pecorino or Parmesan cheese.