Rustico Leccese is a typical street food from Lecce in Puglia. You can use store-bought butter puff pastry to make your rusticio.
These are a bit like a vol-au-vent with a lid, but a very Italian one, filled with mozzarella cheese, tomato and béchamel sauce.
- 20 g (¾ oz) unsalted butter
- 20 g (¾ oz) plain (all-purpose) flour, plus extra for dusting
- 120 ml (4 fl oz) milk
- pinch of ground nutmeg
- 80 g (2¾ oz) aged mozzarella cheese or scamorza, at room temperature, cut into small cubes
- 200 g (7 oz) tinned chopped tomatoes
- ½ tsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 375 g (13 oz) store-bought puff pastry
- 1 small egg, lightly beaten
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Resting time: 5-10 minutes
To prepare the béchamel sauce, melt the butter with the flour in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring the whole time until the mixture looks like wet sand. Slowly pour in the milk, a little at a time, stirring continuously, until incorporated. Keep stirring for a few minutes until the mixture thickens. Remove from the heat and stir through a good pinch of salt and the nutmeg. Add the mozzarella and stir until melted. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside to cool.
Place the chopped tomatoes in a colander and press down hard to remove as much excess liquid as possible. Transfer to a bowl, add the olive oil and salt and pepper, to taste, and mix well. Set aside.
Roll out the puff pastry on a lightly floured work surface until it is 3 mm (1/8 in) thick. Using an 8 cm (3¼ in) and a 10 cm (4 in) cookie cutter, cut out 6 circles of each size. The smaller circle will form the base of the rustico and the larger circle will form the lid. You might need to re-roll the pastry scraps to make the correct number of circles. Place the smaller circles on a baking tray lined with baking paper.
Place 2 teaspoons of the cooled béchamel on each of the smaller circles, leaving a 1 cm (½ in) border. Place 2 teaspoons of the tomato mixture on top of the béchamel, then dip a small brush (or your finger) in the egg and run it around the edge of each circle. Place the larger pastry circles on top and press the circles together with your fingers. Brush the top of each rustico with egg, then set aside in the fridge for at least 45 minutes to 1 hour to rm up the pastry.
Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F).
Bake the rustici for 20 minutes or until they are puffed up and golden. Set aside to cool for 5–10 minutes before eating.
This recipe is from Italian Street Food. (Smith Street Books). Photography by Paola Bacchia.