Grissini

My second recipe of Advent 2021 is grissini or crunchy breadsticks, a perfect crunchy snack to enjoy at Christmas, or anytime of year 🙂

Years ago we used to be able to buy breadsticks, I think it was the Tesco own brand and they were such a great snack, but then came in the ‘may contain sesame’ warnings and we found there were no safe ones around. There is one a Italian brand which doesn’t contain sesame but you have to bulk buy from Italy so it’s not always the most convenient option! Or you can opt for the gluten-free Schar ones, but your average breadstick grossing is a no-go area for those strictly avoiding sesame.

But breadsticks or grissini are such a great addition to the festive season, alongside some drinks or just to keep the hunger pangs at bay until the meal arrives, I thought it was time to make our own.

We particularly like these as a snack with a fresh tomato sauce and a side of delicious olives. Yum! They’re super easy and rather satisfying and will keep for a day or two, if you have any leftover that is!

The dough isn’t dissimilar to a pizza dough but with additional oil so it gets nice and crispy. You can also make them your own by either adding dried herbs or spices (try oregano, rosemary or chilli) and baking them to your own specification. It turns out we prefer the slightly softer ones so I bake it for 12 minutes but go for 14 or 16 if you like them crunchier.

Breadsticks or Grissini

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

makes 30+

250g flour

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp sugar

1 tsp yeast

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

150 ml water

herbs to taste,

flakey sea salt

  1. Mix together the flour, salt, sugar and yeast.
  2. Pour in the oil and water and bring to a dough. Knead fir a few minutes until smooth.
  3. Leave to rise, you want it to double in size so maybe an hour or two.
  4. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees fan and knock back the dough. Dust the work surface with flour and a handful of polenta (if you have it). Roll out the dough to a large rectangle, dusting both sides with the flour and polenta mix.
  5. Slice into 1/2cm thick strips and roll each one to become stick shaped. (Either keep long or cut down for short breadsticks.)
  6. Place on a lined baking sheet. Brush with oil and sprinkle with salt. Bake for 12-16 minutes depending on how crispy you like them!

Pizza Breadsticks

For us lockdown has been a lot about food! Either desperately searching for items that have been of stock, suddenly changing my shopping habits to a once weekly shop without the tops ups and visits to various other supermarkets to get the items we need, making what seems like constant meals and snacks or making fun from a cookbook challenge or Friday evening restaurant at home nights.

I probably think about food more than most in having to cook for a variety of different diets, writing a blog and generally being obsessed with cooking, but that seems to have increased in lockdown! I had intended to write up more recipes, but have ended up making the dishes but not having the time to write them up…. there’s now a backlog so I’ll try and post more in the next few weeks 🙂

One thing I’m constantly searching for new snack recipes to make for the family. By avoiding milk, eggs, nuts and seeds our snack options always seem limited, but everyone needs a good snack, right? These pizza breadsticks are a really good addition, and I’d recommend them to take on a picnic or snack on with an aperitif – we had them with our ‘mocktails’ before our French bistro restaurant at home night and they went down a treat. You can either make 12 bigger softer breadsticks, or 24 smaller, crispier ones, simply make smaller and twice as many from the dough for the crunchier versions – the choice is yours!

Pizza Breadsticks

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

Makes 12 or 24 sticks

250g strong white bread flour

1 tsp salt

1/2 tbsp fast action dried yeast

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

150ml tepid water

2 tbsps extra virgin olive oil

2 tbsps tomato puree (if you can find sun-dried tomato puree all the better)

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp dried oregano

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp salt

  1. Sift the flour into a large bowl. Stir in the yeast and salt.
  2. Make a ‘well’ in the middle and pour in the water and 1 tbsp oil.
  3. Mix until it comes together to form a dough. Then knead until smooth and the dough springs back when you press it.
  4. Place in a bowl, cover with cling film and leave to rise for about 1 hour.
  5. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment and turn the oven on to 200 degrees Centigrade/Gas Mark 6
  6. In a small bowl mix together the tomato puree, oil, garlic powder, oregano and additional salt, set aside.
  7. Once the dough has risen, take it out of the bowl and knock back the dough. Knead for a couple of minutes.
  8. Divide into 12 (or 24) even sized pieces.
  9. Roll each out into a long thin (or short thin for the smaller sticks) sausage shape and place on the parchment lined baking sheet. They don’t have to be perfect.
  10. Brush with the tomato puree mix.
  11. Cover lightly with a clean tea-towel and leave to rise for about half an hour.
  12. Bake for 10-15 minutes until they’re turning golden and sound hollow when tapped.
  13. Cool on a wire rack.
  14. Best eaten fresh.

Herby and smokey straws/breadsticks

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Breadsticks and savoury straws – such a handy savoury snack aren’t they? Particularly for children, they provide that little something to fill rumbly tummies without an extra dose of sugar or resorting to fried snacks like a bag of crisps. We, however, have great difficulty finding breadsticks which don’t have traces of sesame and most straws are laden with butter and/or cheese.

These fine crunchy sticks are the perfect vehicle for carrying dips from bowl to mouth and would fit either as a snack to accompany an elegant aperitif or a savoury addition to a children’s tea party.

Have I given enough reasons why you should make these herby straws? Well, if those reasons aren’t enough – the recipe is a doddle and you can add any flavouring you like. Lots of variations possible… more spice, different herbs, cheese if you aren’t avoiding it.

Herby and Smokey Straws (dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

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makes about 24

  • 300g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1-2 tsp sweet smoked paprika (depending on how much you like that smoky flavour)
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 100g dairy-free spread, such as Pure
  • 80-100ml water

– Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Centigrade/ Gas Mark 3/ 325 degrees Fahrenheit 
– Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment
– Either rub the spread into the flour, baking powder and flavourings/seasonings with your fingertips, or whizz all those ingredients together in a food processor until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
– Gradually add the water until you form a soft, but not sticky dough. You may not need all the water.
– Roll out to a thickness of about 3mm, they need to be fairly thin as you want really crisp and crunchy sticks
– Cut into straw shapes and place on the baking sheet
– Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden and cooked through
– Cool on a wire rack
– These straws keep well for a few days.

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