Make Ahead

Tapenade Taralli

June 12, 2013
2 Ratings
Photo by Ty Mecham
  • Makes 32
Author Notes

I have a copy of a fun little cookbook called Salty Snacks by Cynthia Nims. It features a wide array of snacks, from chips and crisps to nuts and nibbles. The recipes I've tried have been very tasty and some of them have taken me completely by surprise. The taralli fall into that camp. Taralli are an Italian snack that seem like a cross between a tiny bagel and a pretzel. The recipe in the book calls for only 4 ingredients yet produces a crunchy, flaky, and unexpectedly flavorful snack. The simplicity of the ingredients is like a blank canvas—it begs for add-ins. I decided to add some chopped oil-cured olives, Dijon mustard, thyme, and a little pepper to my batch. The result was a taralli with a flavor reminiscent of tapenade. Note: You can bake the whole batch on a single pan, so if you wanted you could easily double the recipe yet bake them all at once. —hardlikearmour

Test Kitchen Notes

Hardlikearmour’s clever addition of olives to taralli is perfectly appropriate considering they originated in Puglia, Italy, a place literally overrun with olive groves. I doubt that any Italian would even raise an eyebrow to this French interpretation of tapenade, because these crispy gems are just so delicious. The dough comes together fast and the rolling and forming is fun. Don’t let the boiling part turn you away: it goes quickly and the directions are right on. You might consider decreasing the salt in the recipe based on the saltiness of your olives. I’ve been making taralli for years and this recipe is a keeper! —PRST

What You'll Need
  • 2 cups (10 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt or flaky sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme or lemon thyme leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon Aleppo pepper
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup minus 1 tablespoon dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped oil-cured black olives
  1. Whisk the flour, salt, thyme, and peppers together in a medium bowl. Set aside. Place the Dijon mustard in a 2-cup liquid measure, then use the wine to fill to the 1/2 cup mark. Use a fork or small whisk to combine. Add the wet ingredients (including the olives) to the dry ingredients. Stir just until a cohesive ball of dough forms and there is no visible dry flour remaining. The dough should be fairly soft, but not sticky, and will have a slightly marbled appearance. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp tea towel and set aside for an hour so the flour can fully hydrate.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350° F and place a rack near the center (if you're making a double batch, put a rack in both the upper and lower-middle positions). Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone liner.
  3. Bring a large pot of well-salted water to boil. Once it starts to gently boil, lower the heat to medium or medium-high to maintain a gentle boil. (If you are making a double batch, you might want to wait until you've shaped about half the taralli before you start the water to boil.)
  4. Divide the dough into 8 equal portions. Working with one portion at a time roll it out on a clean counter until it is an even log, about 8- to 9-inches long. Cut the portion into 4 equal lengths, then roll each length into a “rope” about 1/2-inch in diameter and 5 to 6 inches long. Try to taper the ends slightly, as they will overlap when you form the taralli, but don't fret about making them perfect.
  5. Take each rope and form it into a circle, overlapping about 3/4- to 1-inch. Pinch the overlapping area between your thumb and finger as if it were a ring sitting on your index finger. Flip the ring over onto your thumb, while maintaining the pinch. Place the shaped taralli on a baking sheet, continuing to twist the pinch as needed to help get a good union. Repeat the process until all the taralli are formed.
  6. Make sure the water is gently boiling before proceeding. If the water is boiling too vigorously it is likely the taralli will come apart at the pinched seam. Gently add 6 to 8 of the taralli to the water (you may want to start with fewer to test your boil level). Don't worry if an occasional one comes apart, just use it for a taste test when they're done. Cook until they float to the surface (a few may stick to the bottom, gently dislodge them as needed), and look like an inner tube floating in the water. They will start out perpendicular to the surface, but wait to remove them until they're parallel. Use a spider or slotted spoon to scoop them out of the water, several at a time. Drain briefly over the pot, then transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Arrange them on the baking sheet so that all 32 fit. They will only puff slightly during baking, so they can be close to each other, but shouldn't be touching. They are going to look a little grey and sad on the baking sheet, so don't be dismayed—all will be well once they bake. Boil the remaining taralli, allowing the water to return to a gentle boil between batches if necessary.
  7. Bake 45 to 50 minutes, rotating the sheet midway. They will be lightly browned and crisp when they are done. Transfer the taralli to a wire rack, and allow to cool completely before serving or storing. They will keep several days in an airtight container.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Franca
  • PRST
  • lapadia
  • indieculinary
  • gingerroot
I am an amateur baker and cake decorator. I enjoy cooking, as well as eating and feeding others. I live in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with my husband and our menagerie. I enjoy outdoor activities including hiking, mushroom hunting, tide pooling, beach combing, and snowboarding.

29 Reviews

wendy April 24, 2018
I made these a couple of days ago and I am really disappointed with the results. I followed the recipe except I added slightly more chopped olives. My husband and I found them all super dry and surprisingly bland. The description refers to these as crispy, but I was still hoping for a chewier, more bagel-like texture. Of course, that’s my bad. But I didn’t find them crispy either. More like dusty, dry tasteless chunks.

I may try to salvage the remainder ( we didn’t eat more than 3) as croutons or bread crumbs. I wish I would have been happier with the results.
Franca April 4, 2014
My mother was from Puglia. She made taralli all the time (I love them) but never with olives or mustard. Must try. They look delicious.
PRST July 4, 2013
Congrats on the community pick! I loved testing and writing a review for this. I consider your recipe a true WINNER! I made them again (YUM x 2) and have even shared the recipe with another taralli lover.
hardlikearmour July 5, 2013
Thank you for the lovely review and ringing endorsement!
PRST June 25, 2013
My oil cured olives came from an olive farm in California and are not as dry as most available commercially. I thought they might contribute too much moisture but wanted to try them since they are so good. Great idea to pre-dry the olives. Thanks
hardlikearmour June 25, 2013
Mine came from the olive bar at a local upscale grocery, so they were pretty shriveled!
PRST June 25, 2013
hardlikearmour- the taralli are not as crispy as they were yesterday. I was a little concerned when making them that the moisture from the oil-cured olives would do this. I baked them a little longer too. Any suggestions?
hardlikearmour June 25, 2013
Mine stayed nicely crispy for 3 to 4 days, though I did notice a slight decrease after 1 to 2 days, they were still acceptably crisp to me. My olives were pretty dry to begin with, so I'm wondering if yours were moister? Maybe pre-drying the olives in the oven would help?
PRST June 24, 2013
Just made these! Delicious!! The directions are right on. Including a weight for the flour made me smile. I've been making various kinds of taralli for years and this recipe is a keeper. Many thanks and congrats on the community pick.
hardlikearmour June 24, 2013
Thank you!! I'm glad you like them. I'm always concerned my directions aren't clear enough so it's great to hear they worked out.
lapadia June 24, 2013
I just made a batch of your Taralli recipe; they are delicious, crispy little Tapenade Gems! A slightly sweet version is what I was use to as a kid and I will be tweaking to try my hand at what I remembered so that I can surprise those in my family who will remember a blast from the past. PS – highly recommend the Tapenade flavored version
hardlikearmour June 24, 2013
Glad to hear you liked them! I'd love to hear how your tinkering goes -- I think a slightly sweet version would be yummy.
lapadia June 24, 2013
Will do :)
indieculinary June 21, 2013
Mustard and olive are an inspired addition. Love the aleppo pepper specification.
hardlikearmour June 21, 2013
Thank you! I really like aleppo pepper -- it is a little fruity/lemony with just enough kick.
gingerroot June 21, 2013
These sound great hardlikearmour!
hardlikearmour June 21, 2013
Thank you, gr!
EmilyC June 14, 2013
I really love this recipe. I'd gladly take these on a road trip or serve them at a party for that matter!
hardlikearmour June 14, 2013
Thanks, EmC! They'll definitely be making an appearance at my next cocktail & snacks party.
healthierkitchen June 13, 2013
I love taralli! Love the olive addition.
hardlikearmour June 14, 2013
Thanks, hk! The recipe from the Salty Snacks book was my first experience with them, but I really love them too.
Kukla June 13, 2013
My husband wouldn’t wait for a road trip to snack away on these beauties; he’ll just ask: “Is the beer in the fridge?” I’ll have to spoil him one day and make your Taralli hardlikearmour; they look delicious!
hardlikearmour June 13, 2013
I hope your husband likes them as much as mine!
aargersi June 13, 2013
I have never heard of these before - they sound great! And you could for sure just chomp away on them while drivin' on down the road!!
hardlikearmour June 13, 2013
Or just standing around your house/pool with a cocktail in your hand...
drbabs June 13, 2013
hardlikearmour June 13, 2013
lapadia June 12, 2013
Yum, HLA, I had Tarali Dolci often when I was growing up, will have to try a savory version; Tapenade flavored Taralli just screams crunchy salty snack heaven to me! Thanks for sharing...
hardlikearmour June 12, 2013
Thanks, lapadia! I've not tried a sweet version. Hmmm, perhaps I'll do some tinkering ?