What’s a fresella? Basically, it’s a type of very hard, rough, dried, whole-grain bread that you will find in all good Italian grocery shops outside of Italy and in most Italian bakeries and supermarkets in Italy (especially in Campania and Puglia).
The delicious and versatile fresella (plural, le freselle) has been a staple of Southern Italian diets since at least the 1300s. The word derives from Latin frendere, meaning to grind or mash. Think of the word friable (also a derivative of frendere) and you’ll know exactly what a modern-day fresella is like.
Le freselle come in different shapes, often, especially in the USA and UK, they are shaped like a large disk with a hole in it and they may be made of white flour (like in the photo below) or whole wheat. Other times, they will look like a small bap or bun. Freselle are sometimes also called friselle.
Whatever their shape, Neapolitans (and many of our Southern brethren) adore le freselle. They make a quick, delicious, healthy, low fat and relatively low calorie meal. Freselle are made with flour, water, salt and yeast and are inherently vegan. They form the basis of any number of salads and your imagination is the limit. Here is my favourite because it’s a perfect combination of nutrients and textures. Serves two as a main. Recipe after the photo.
- 4-5 pieces of freselle, if shaped like baps/buns, or 1-2 disks, all depending on how hungry you are
- 1 can of cannellini beans, drained
- 10-12 (or more) cherry tomatoes, OR 2-3 very good, fresh, succulent large tomatoes – all depends on what is available to you, halved or sliced into morsels
- 50g fresh parsley, roughly chopped
- a clove of garlic, finely chopped (and optional if you don’t like raw garlic)
- 1 Tablespoon nutritional yeast
- a generous pinch of salt
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste, OR hot chilli pepper flakes/fresh if you want something more spicy
- if you’re feeling adventurous, add 1-2 teaspoons capers
- a glug of olive oil (be generous if you’re up to it)
Because le freselle are hard, you will need to soften them a bit. To do so, quickly pass them under running water (traditionally, this would be done with fresh sea water… sigh…) and shake off the excess. You will notice right away how much more friable they become once you’ve wet them a bit.
In a large bowl, break le freselle into small, morsels. Add all the ingredients to the bowl. Pour a glug of olive oil over everything and sprinkle in the salt and pepper. Mix well and serve immediately.
It is hypocritical to have positive reactions to cute animal stories or negative reactions to stories about animal abuse, extinction, and slaughter and to go on using them for reasons that are purely frivolous – pleasure and convenience. We do not need to use animals to thrive, or look great or eat delicious things. Please give this some thought. We all can go vegan https://www.internationalvegan.org