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Rustici Leccesi Recipe | Apulian Street Food Snack

These crispy, stuffed snacks are a classic street food treat in Puglia. Because they use pre-made puff pastry dough, it’s an easy and delicious dish to make with almost no baking skill required! While the traditional filling is besciamella sauce, cheese and tomato, you can get creative and use this basic technique with just about any kind of stuffing you like.

Rustici Leccesi Recipe | Apulian Street Food Snack

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Makes: About five rustici (you can make a few more if you re-roll the puff pastry scraps)

Cook Time: 1 hour

For this recipe, you will need:

  • 2 tablespoons (30 g) unsalted butter

  • ¼ cup (30 g) all-purpose flour

  • 1 ¼ cups (300 ml) whole milk

  • Ground nutmeg

  • Salt

  • Fresh black pepper

  • One large puff pastry sheet, about 10 x 15 inches (25 x 38 cm)

  • ¼ cup (60 ml) tomato puree

  • Extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1 large egg, whisked

  • 1 ounce (30 g) low-hydration mozzarella or provolone cheese, finely chopped

Start by making a thick besciamella sauce. In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium/low heat. When it is completely melted, whisk in the flour. It will quickly form a thick roux. Gradually add the milk while stirring.

Continue to whisk until the sauce thickens into a pudding-like consistency. Season the besciamella generously with salt, black pepper and nutmeg to taste. Let the besciamella cool to thicken even more.

Preheat the oven to 380°F (195°C).

Prepare a simple tomato sauce by seasoning the tomato puree with a pinch of salt and a drizzle of olive oil to taste. Mix well.

Spread the puff pastry sheet flat on a large piece of parchment paper. Each rustico is formed with three discs of dough: two should be about 3 ½ inches (9 cm) in diameter and the third slightly smaller, about 3 inches (7.5 cm). If you only have one cutter size, you can make all of the discs the same.

Using round cookie cutters, cut the pastry sheet into about five sets of discs (10 of the larger, five of the smaller). Place one of the larger rounds on a parchment-lined baking sheet and brush the top of it with the whisked egg. Place a second large round on top and gently press them together to form one circle.

On top, place a small spoonful of besciamella, a few pieces of chopped cheese, and a dollop of tomato sauce, leaving about 1 inch (2.5 cm) of free space around the filling. Be aware that adding too much filling can make the rustico tricky to close, so err on the side of less filling when in doubt.

Liberally brush the surrounding edge of the dough with the egg wash and place the last (smaller) disc of dough on top. Gently press the edges into the egg to seal it shut. Don’t worry about pressing very hard, the egg will act like glue when baked.

Finally, brush the top of the entire rustico with egg wash and repeat to assemble the rest of the rustici. While a large sheet of puff pastry dough will yield about 5 rustici, you can make a few more by rolling the remaining scraps out with a rolling pin to the same thickness as the original sheet.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the dough is golden and crispy. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Buon appetito!

Rustici Leccesi are a classic treat in Apulian “rosticeria” bakeries. If this recipe interests you, check out what’s on offer in Sicilian rosticerie!

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