Bake, Local specialties, Recipes

Pinsa recipe: a pizza from the past

Pinsa with mortadella, pistachios and ricotta

Pinsa recipe is one of those hidden jewels that Italian cuisine reveals only to its most accurate connoisseurs.

As a matter of fact, every time I go to Rome I try to find the time for one pinsa, actually one of my favorite examples of street food.

Taking advantage of this period of lock-down, I have decided to experiment a lot with this kind of ancient pizza. After a bunch of attempts with different pinsa recipes, I believe I found the proper procedure and some useful tips I want to share with you.

If you don’t know about pinsa and you find this post useful.. just PIN IT 🙂

What is pinsa?

Pinsa is a word that comes from the Latin pinsere (to press, to spread out) and this suggests the fact that it is pressed with the hands until obtaining an oval shape.

It is an amazing ancient recipe: you can find the word pinsa in the Aeneid by Virgil, more than 2000 years ago!

Originally, this recipe was very common among the lower classes, typically farmers. Using cereals, mainly millet, barley and spelt, they were able to cook this wonderful kind of focaccia. It was poor food, so even if today, especially in Rome, you will find it topped with any sort of ingredients, originally pinsa recipe had very simple ingredients: olive oil, salt, rosemary, and other aromatic herbs.

Since 2007-2008, this ancient pizza recipe has experienced increasing success in our Country, and nowadays more than 5000 shops (pinserie) are specialized in this amazing street food.

Difference between pinsa and pizza

As I have highlighted in a previous post about (some of) the many different types of focaccia, this ancient pizza recipe has some remarkable and distinguishing features:

  • light and very easy to digest, thanks to long, double leavening.
  • Crumble, crunchy on the borders, soft on the inside.
  • A special flour mix, that is nowadays almost generally agreed upon: wheat, soy, rice. (Note: regarding this point, I have experimented a little bit and I want to share with you some findings, below).
  • Oval shape, different from the usual circle shape, or the rectangular one of the pan pizza (pizza in teglia).

What I have understood, after a bunch of attempts mixing different types of flour, in slightly different ratios, is:

  • the rice flour is the crucial ingredient. It gives to the pinsa, in particular to the crust, a texture hard to define but that you will immediately learn to recognize as soon as you will try it. It is not only part of the dough, but also the flour you will use on your countertop to shape it before cooking: don’t be shy, abound with it! Additional tip: if you are not used to this kind of flour, start using it also to prepare vegetables fried in batter… rice flour makes wonders.
  • I have tried a few times using spelt flour instead of soy flour, mostly because… soy was not present in ancient Rome, so there must have been an alternative! I found out that spelt can be a great alternative, even if soy is great (thanks to the high protein ratio).

How to enjoy a pinsa

Finally, few notes about how to properly enjoy your pinsa.

If you want the simplest pinsa, just add a little bit of olive oil, some sea salt and rosemary, before cooking.

Otherwise, you can skip salt, oil and rosemary, but add mortadella, pistachios and ricotta cheese (like in the picture of this post), after the oven.

Another amazing version I’ve tried (topping before the oven) is guanciale (or bacon), thin slices of apple, grated pecorino cheese. Absolutely yummy!

But not it’s time to get things done. Since ancient pizza recipe requires a long preparationyou’ll have to start at least the day before!

Pinsa with mortadella, pistachios and ricotta
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5 from 1 vote

Pinsa recipe

Pinsa is the grand grand grand mother of the current pizza, one of the most famous food in the world. Follow this step-by-step guide for a jump in the past, to discover a forgotten taste!
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Resting time (at least)1 d
Total Time1 d 45 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: cheap, crusty, delicious, homemade, street food
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 300kcal
Author: Roberto
Cost: $1

Equipment

  • a bowl
  • a mixer (optional)
  • a spoon

Ingredients

  • 630 gr wheat flour
  • 40 gr rice flour
  • 30 gr spelt (or soy) flour
  • 500 gr water cold
  • q.s. natural yeast dehydrated beer yeast: 0.25 bag. Fresh: 5 gr
  • 10 gr sea salt for the dough
  • 10 gr extra virgin olive oil for the dough
  • q.s. sea salt topping (if no other ingredients on top)
  • q.s. rosemary topping (if no other ingredients on top)

Instructions

  • Prepare the ingredients. The water should be cold.
    Ancient pizza recipe
  • Mix the different types of flour and the yeast.
    Ancient pizza recipe
  • Add 80% of the water and go on mixing for about 5 minutes.
    Ancient pizza recipe
  • Add the salt, the oil and the remaining water, and mix for about 20 minutes, until the dough looks smooth.
    Ancient pizza recipe
  • Put the dough into a bowl with a cover (or seal it with a plastic film) and then into the fridge, for at least 24 hours. It should like this:
    Ancient pizza recipe
  • Now create 2 or 3 smaller doughs. Put each of them in a bowl and cover it with a cloth, for the second leavening, at ambient temperature, lasting 3 hours. Result should be like this:
    Ancient pizza recipe
  • After the second leavening, turn on the oven, with the pan inside, at 250 °C. When it's hot, shower the countertop with a fist of rice flour and gently press the dough on it, to shape it.
    Ancient pizza recipe
  • Then put it on the hot pan and into the oven. Lower it at 200 °C. Cook it for 15-20 minutes and … it's done! Buon appetito.

Notes

Tips:
  • pinsa takes time, but you will be rewarded
  • the first leavening is cold, so please use cold water
  • topping is fun, but I always suggest to use ingredients that are part of our tradition 🙂
  • the rice flour is key, when you work it before the oven just use a lot of it and you will not regret!

Buon appetito!

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1 Comment

  • Reply Odi 05/20/2020 at 8:17 PM

    5 stars
    Delicious 😋

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