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Rustico pastry (Rustico leccese)

Recipe by Paola From Italy On My Mind

Rustico Leccese is a typical street food from Lecce in Puglia. It is a bit like  a vol-au-vent with a lid, but a very Italian one, filled with mozzarella cheese, tomato and béchamel sauce. You can use store-bought butter puff pastry  to make your rustici.

  • 20g unsalted butter
  • 20 g plain (all-purpose) flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 120 ml milk
  • Pinch of ground nutmeg
  • 80 g aged mozzarella cheese or scamorza , at room temperature, cut into small cubes
  • 200 g tinned chopped tomatoes ½ teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 375 g store-bought puff pastry
  • 1 small egg, lightly beaten
  1. To prepare the béchamel sauce for your rustico pastry, melt the butter with the flour in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring the whole time until the mixture looks like wet sand. Slowly pour in the milk, a little at a time, stirring continuously, until incorporated. Keep stirring for a few minutes until the mixture thickens. Remove from the heat and stir through a good pinch of salt and the nutmeg. Add the mozzarella and stir until melted. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside to cool.
  2. Place the chopped tomatoes in a colander and press down hard to remove as much excess liquid as possible. Transfer to a bowl, add the olive oil and salt and pepper, to taste, and mix well. Set aside.
  3. Roll out the puff pastry on a lightly floured work surface until it is 3 mm (1/8 in) thick. Using an 8 cm (31/4 in) and a 10 cm (4 in) cookie cutter, cut out 6 circles of each size. The smaller circle will form the base of the rustico and the larger circle will form the lid. You might need to re-roll the pastry scraps to make the correct number of circles. Place the smaller circles on a baking tray lined with baking paper.
  4. Place 2 teaspoons of the cooled béchamel on each of the smaller circles, leaving a 1 cm (1/2 in) border. Place 2 teaspoons of the tomato mixture on top of the béchamel, then dip a small brush (or your finger) in the egg and run it around the edge of each circle. Place the larger pastry circles on top and press the circles together with your fingers. Brush the top of each rustico with egg, then set aside in the fridge for at least 45 minutes to 1 hour to firm up the pastry.
  5. Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F).
  6. Bake the rustici for 20 minutes or until they are puffed up and golden. Set aside your rustico pastry to cool for 5–10 minutes before eating.

MAKES 8

This is just one of the delicious recipes that you’ll fine in Paola Bacchia’s brand new book: Italian Street Food! Make sure you pick up a copy!

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