When I lived on the Via dei Giubbonari, near the Campo de’ Fiori in Roma, I had a few favorite spots to grab a bite to eat that were less than a five minute walk from my door.
One of these spots was Forno, one of Rome’s best bakeries (forno means oven), which was located on the northwest end of the Campo. Their pizza bianca became a favorite breakfast, as I shared in an anecdote from ‘Excerpts from a Roman May’. At lunch, I would grab a quick, but endlessly delicious sandwich made from this perfect oil-laden bread, rich with fresh mozzarella and some lovely vegetable.
I’ve recreated one of my favorite dishes from Forno here – with the help of a favorite cookbook about the best of Roman food. I will share a recipe that include pane (bread), cacio (cheese) and fiori (flowers) with you, so that you can taste my little corner of Roma with me.
Inspired by Forno – Pizza Bianca Panino with Mozzarella & Zucchini Flowers
- This recipe comes from Maria Pasquale’s lovely book on Roman cuisine called “I Heart Rome”. The recipe is actually for Roscioli’s pizza bianca (ironically enough), but I use it here because both Forno’s and Roscioli’s are exceptional.
- If you don’t have a garden with zucchini flowers, they can typically be purchased at farmer’s markets and specialty stores during the summer.
- To clean zucchini flowers, run briefly under cold water (inside and out); remove stamen by pinching it and pulling it out with the fingers. You will remove the stem here as well.
- Buffalo mozzarella works really well here, but regular is perfect as well.
- The pizza bianca takes half a day (or more) to rise, so plan accordingly – an overnight rise is best.
- The recipe for the pizza bianca makes two half-sheet trays, enough for the sandwiches and a lot extra – it’s GREAT for snacking.
18 oz. bread flour
1 T. kosher salt
1 t. sugar
1 3/4 oz. milk (any kind)
1 1/3 c. water, room temp
extra virgin olive oil, for greasing and drizzling
semolina flour (optional, for dusting)
flaked sea salt, to finish
4 4-inch square pieces pizza bianca
6 oz. fresh mozzarella, preferably buffalo milk, cut into 1/4 inch slices
12 zucchini flowers, stamens and stems removed, flower cut on one side so that it opens like a sheet
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper, to serve
- First make the pizza bianca: stir together the flour, salt and sugar in a large bowl. In a large measuring cup, mix the milk with the yeast to dissolve, then add the water to the measuring cup as well.
- Pour the liquids into the flour mixture and mix with a fork to combine. Use your hands to finish mixing the dough until you get a smooth mixture. You may need to add more water if the dough is too stiff, or more flour if it is too watery. Form finished dough into a ball.
- Oil another large bowl and place the dough round in the bowl, turning once to cover with oil on all sides. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature for 10-12 hours.
- After the long rise, dust a clean surface with flour (or semolina flour) and turn the dough onto it. Knead the dough briefly, separate it into two balls, cover with plastic wrap and let rise again for a half hour.
- Preheat the oven to 465 degrees. Oil two half sheet (13″ by 18″) trays with a bit of olive oil, using your hands to spread the oil over the entire surface. Place one ball on each baking tray and gently stretch and spread the dough until it is about the size of the trays.
- Using your fingertips, press into the dough to give it is bubbly shape, which will become more apparent when baked.
- Bake for 12-15 minutes, rotating trays halfway through, or until just golden brown. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt once they are out of them oven. Let cool before making sandwiches.
- Cut one of the trays of pizza bianca into squares approximately 4″ by 4″. Carefully slice each of these in half down their middles (like a really flat sandwich roll), so that you can stuff them.
- Fill each sandwich with a few slices of mozzarella. Sprinkle the cheese with a bit of salt and black pepper. Then add 2-3 zucchini flowers. Now close your eyes, pretend you are in Roma in May and enjoy!
Serves four, but can easily be doubled.