Pisarei e Fasö (Breadcrumb Gnocchi with Beans)

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Pisarei e fasö is a typical dish from the province of Piacenza in Emilia-Romagna. Cristina from The Blog Around the Corner was inspired to blog about this dish from her region by my post about pasta with stewed beans. I already put it on my “to cook” list after reading Cristina’s post, but when Marina of Le Recette di Baccos blogged about it as well, I couldn’t wait any longer and had to try it. I’m glad that I did, because this dish is very tasty!

Pisarei are small gnocchi made of breadcrumbs, water and flour. Yes, this is a poor man’s dish that was created to use up leftover bread. The gnocchi should be small, about the same size as the beans. Fasö is the word in the local dialect of Piacenza for borlotti beans. The other ingredients are lard, tomatoes, and the holy trinity of carrot, onion, and celery. Cristina’s and Marina’s recipes are very similar. The only thing I’ve done differently is that I’ve used canned borlotti beans rather than cooking them myself. The main reason for that is that I could only find them canned, not dried.

Just like many other poor man’s dishes, this dish with humble ingredients is loaded with flavor and really worth trying. The one ingredient that may be difficult to find is lardo, Italian cured pork fatback. Lardo is usually cured with rosemary and salt. If you can’t find lardo, you could also use the fat from a thick slice of prosciutto.

Ingredients

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For 2 servings

150 grams (1 cup) flour

75 grams (2/3 cup)  breadcrumbs, see below

about 120 ml (1/2 cup) water

1 can (400 grams/14 oz) borlotti beans

200 grams/7 oz peeled tomatoes (1/2 can), pureed in the food processor

50 grams (2 oz) lardo

1 small onion, minced

1 celery stalk, minced

1 small carrot, minced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 bay leaf

1 Tbsp minced fresh flat leaf parsley

freshly grated grana padano or parmigiano reggiano

salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 Tbsp olive oil

Preparation

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The breadcrumbs are a very important ingredient in this recipe. Do not use panko! Best is to use bread that is about a week old, and great it or use a food processor. In Italian, breadcrumbs are called pangrattato, which literally means grated bread.

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Combine the breadcrumbs and the flour in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. (Of course you could also knead the dough by hand.)

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Turn on the machine and slowly add the water. Add just enough to bring the dough together.

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Once the dough has come together…

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…switch over to the dough hook and knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.

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Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and allow to rest for half an hour or so.

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Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a frying pan and add the lard.

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After a minute, add the finely minced onion, carrot, celery, and garlic. (I used the food processor to mince them.)

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Cook over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes.

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Add the tomatoes…

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…and the bay leaf. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat to a simmer. Simmer, uncovered, for about 15 minutes.

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Meanwhile, take a piece of the dough and on a floured work surface (preferably wooden, that works best) roll out into a thin sausage.

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Cut the sausage into pieces of less than 1 cm (1/3 inch).

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Press down on each piece of dough with your thumb to flatten it and give it the characteristic shape of pisarei.

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Continue until you have used up all of the dough.

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After 15 minutes of sommering, drain the beans and add them tot he tomato sauce. Stir and allow to simmer for 5-10 minutes.

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Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the pisarei. They are cooked as soon as they float to the surface.

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Pick up the pisarei with a slotted spoon as they rise to the surface…

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…and add them to the sauce.

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Add most of the parsley.

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Stir to mix.

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Serve on warm plates, sprinkled with the remaining parsley and freshly grated grana padano or parmigiano reggiano.

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18 thoughts on “Pisarei e Fasö (Breadcrumb Gnocchi with Beans)

  1. Yay, Stephan! BRAVO! you did it in such a yummy way! I’ll try also your type of pisarei, for sure! 😉
    compliments for the mixture, it seems just perfect!Well done!Cris

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  2. Very appetizing dish and, yes, old bread oft does seem to be there altho’ I do not know whether my usual 7-grain or sesame/soy/linseed ones would do 🙂 !! Like the shape of the pisarei and would tweak it in just one small way . . . .

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  3. Never heard of this but it looks fantastic and I always have old home-baked bread around.
    When you say lard though, do you mean lardo? Lard on the US is rendered pork fat but what you have in the picture is a solid block that looks like lardo.

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    1. You are absolutely right, I do mean lardo, and I wasn’t thinking when I wrote lard. I know they are different, as in Italian there are two very dissimilar words for them: struzzo for lard, and well, lardo for lardo 🙂
      I have now clarified this in the post, thanks for pointing it out to me.

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    1. It is lardo, Italian cured pork fatback. The speckles are the rosemary that was used to cure it with. If you can’t find lardo, you can substitute with the fat layer of prosciutto. I will clarify what lardo is in the post.

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  4. Italian comfort food at its best! This looks wonderful, Stefan. Although I’ve never seen this type of gnocchi before, it sounds like something my Grandmother may have prepared. I’ll ask Zia about it. I was just cooking with borlotti beans yesterday. They have such a great flavor.

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