Crunch into something special: artisan Italian crackers called croccantini. Above: Tomato/Oregano. All photography by B.A. Van Sise | THE NIBBLE.
KAREN HOCHMAN is Editorial Director of THE NIBBLE.
Updated April 2009
La Panzanella Croccantini
Italian Artisan Flatbread
CAPSULE REPORT: La Panzanella Croccantini were born to meet the needs for a high-quality cracker. They provide a “bit of Italy” to anyone looking to serve something different, tasty and versatile for casual entertaining or special lunches and dinners. A gourmet “magic trick,” they have visual allure and palate appeal, whether paired with cheeses and spreads or used to make everyday soup and salad more exciting. (Our idea of “magic trick” is a specialty food that you can buy to make an everyday main dish—a bowl of soup, a grilled chicken—look instantly exciting. The croccantini are made with all natural ingredients and are certified kosher. This is Page 1 of a two-page article. Click on the black links below to visit Page 2.
Americans love to crunch—on snack foods, bread sticks, flatbreads, crackers. And if you know where to look, there are croccantini—Italian crackers, and more specifically, the crackers made by La Panzanella, a Seattle bakery. Based on classic Italian regional recipes and using locally available ingredients—an Italian tradition—the company developed its first croccantini (crow-con-TEE-nee) ten years ago. That first herb-flecked rustic cracker now has eight siblings.
La Panzanella’s croccantini—the name means “crunchy little bites”—are actually quite large, measuring 4” by 7”. They are, however, blissfully crunchy. The artisan crackers are carefully made and packaged by hand. They are baked to order—until a retail order is received, the crackers aren’t made. There’s no inventory sitting in the warehouse, so the preservative-free crackers are crispy on the shelf.
A panzanella, by the way, is a bread salad originating in the northern Italy regions of Tuscany, Umbria, Marche and Lazio. Making use of stale bread, it is popular in the summer months, when cubes of bread are tossed with fresh tomatoes, basil, vinegar and olive oil (there are many variations on the recipe).
Rosemary, topped by Original flavor.
There are currently nine varieties of “crunchy little bites” plus three in the Fieri series (asterisked):
- Black Pepper
- Red Chili Basil*
- Serrano Lime*
- Whole Wheat
Made of unbleached wheat flour, olive or canola oil, sea salt, kosher salt and seasonings, croccantini are very crisp, contributing flavors of good wheat, good sea salt, and fennel, pepper, sesame or other seasoning. They can be munched plain like their cousins, the grissini (breadsticks), or enhanced in a variety of ways.
The new Fieri croccantini add sizzle—literally—to an already exciting line. In three flavors, Chipotle, Red Chili Basil and Serrano Lime, the flatbreads prove to the many fans of spicy foods that variety is the spice of life at La Panzanella. They’re wonderful, each with a very distinctive spice profile.
- Chipotle has classic smoky jalapeño flavor.
- Red Chili Basil has Thai accents, but is at home anywhere.
- Serrano Lime, another Mexican flavor combination, is made with lime oil, which tastes as lively as fresh juice.
They’re shorter than the regular line, 3” x 4”, but a cute brick shape. In addition to offering them with cool dips and spreads, you’ll find more suggestions on the next page.
“Fier up” with three spicy croccantini flavors.
Continue To Page 2: Serving Suggestions
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