The Rustici Leccesi or Salentini are the finger-lickin'-good snack/appetizers found everywhere in Salento, from bars to restaurant takeaways. The first stop for a day at the beach or picnic is to buy some tasty rustici for the kids in tow, and even, perhaps more especially, for the grownups. These flavourful morsels are made of crispy golden puff pastry that encloses a soft filling of bèchamel, with mozzarella and tomato sauce. They are quick and easy to prepare and are eaten lukewarm.
It's so simple to buy a small carton of the ready made bechamel sauce. Otherwise, make your own:
Melt butter in a small heavy saucepan, and when butter is completely melted, throw in the flour all at once. Stir continuously untill all the butter is absorbed. Continue to cook for a few minutes until the flour begins to brown, but not more than 2 minutes. Add the milk, a little at a time as it is absorbed by the flour. Cook the sauce for a few minutes, at least until it has thickened somewhat. Turn off the heat and add the salt and a little grated nutmeg. When still hot, add to the sauce some mozzarella, cut into small pieces. Stir well to melt the cheese and then let everything cool. Chop the tomatoes into very small pieces and let them drain in a colander. Toss with a little oil, a pinch of salt and a pinch of pepper.
From rolled out puff pastry sheets, cut 12 circles with a diameter of 12 cm. Place 4 circles on a baking tray covered with parchment paper, brush the surface with beaten egg and place above each one another circle of the same size. This will serve to make the dough rise and to inflate the rustici .
Now place a dollop of bechamenl sauce on each round, followed by a teaspoon of tomatoes. Add a few more small pieces of mozzarella. Brush edges of rounds with egg wash. Cover with remaining circles and pinch down around the edges to seal. Brush egg wash all over.
Bake in preheted 380-400 degree oven for about 25 minutes, or until the rustici have become dark and golden.
A small way to feel closer to beautiful Salento!
A JOURNEY OF SORTS, VARIOUS MEANDERINGS......AND A LITERARY EXPLORATION OF A LESSER KNOWN ITALY