These Kalamata Olive and Sea Salt Grissini (i.e. breadsticks)
are the perfect pre-dinner appetizer!
“A bottle of white, a bottle of red, perhaps a bottle of rose instead…” Have I ever mentioned that I love me some Billy Joel? I mean it takes a special artist to have top hits in the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s. Think about that for a second. The music of each of those decades couldn’t be any more different, yet Billy dominated throughout. That’s quite a feat! The song above (“Scenes from an Italian Restaurant”) is one of my favorites, and for me it cues up the visual image of a small Italian cafe. You know the kind. Red and white checkered table cloths. A bottle of house wine on the table. And of course Italian bread and grissini (i.e. thin breadsticks) on the table. I’m fairly certain I could eat my weight in bread and grissini before the meal ever arrives!
Raise your hand if you have a pasta machine. Now raise your other hand if you actually use it. I feel like folks pick up pasta machines with the best intention to make homemade pasta, but it never happens. Then those pasta machines end up in a garage sale 10 years later. (If you don’t have a pasta machine, then keep an eye out for them at local garage sales. Seriously. You can pick up good brands for a steal!) Homemade pasta takes time. I get it. But the taste is so incredible! But this post isn’t about homemade pasta. It’s about grissini. Did you know that your pasta machine is the perfect tool to make those thin, crispy breadsticks that are served in restaurants? Yup, and talk about a good way to impress family or your dinner guests!
Somewhat similar to crackers, grissini are very thin, crispy breadsticks that are typically served as an appetizer. You can also sometimes find them pre-packaged in specialty stores. But here’s the thing…they are pretty easy (and fun!) to make at home. One batch makes a lot of grissini, and they’d probably freeze pretty well once baked. My wife and I have a strange obsession for grissini, so we don’t typically have the problem of leftovers.
For this batch, I minced up some Kalamata olives and threw them into the dough. A quick sprinkle of sea salt before going into the oven, and these Kalamata Olive and Sea Salt Grissini were born. And let me tell ya, I almost made an entire dinner out of these breadsticks. Seriously. I happened to pull them out of the oven right before dinner, and it was all I could do to stop eating them. “Sir, put your hands up and step away from the grissini.”
If you don’t happen to own a pasta machine, you can absolutely still make these grissini! Just use a rolling pin to roll the dough out and then use a pizza cutter to cut thin strips. So pop open a bottle of white…or red…or rose…and serve up a batch of homemade grissini. I can promise you that your guests will be impressed! And I can also promise that you won’t be able to eat just one. Salute!
Kalamata Olive and Sea Salt Grissini
- 2¼ cups bread flour
- 1½ tsp instant dry yeast
- ½ cup whole milk
- 3 Tbsp unsalted butter softened
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp malt syrup or honey
- ¼ cup Kalamata olives very finely minced
- olive oil for finishing
- sea salt for finishing
- Using a countertop mixer fitted with the dough hook, add the flour, yeast, milk, softened butter, olive oil, salt, malt syrup (or honey) and minced Kalamata olives. Mix on low speed for 3 minutes, or until dough begins to come together. Increase speed to medium, and mix for 3 more minutes.
- Cover dough and let rest for 45 minutes.
- Divide dough into smaller pieces. Roll dough through the pasta rollers until it is approximately ¼” thick and about 10-12" long. If it's too long, just cut off the end of the dough and use it with the next piece. (See note below.)
- Run rolled dough through the fettuccine cutter on the pasta machine.
- Place strips of dough on a parchment-lined sheet pan. (Tip: Make sure strips do not touch. The grissini will not expand much in the oven, so you can place the strips very close together.)
- Spray or brush strips with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Cover lightly and place in a warm location (85°F) for 30 minutes.
- Bake at 400°F for 9-12 minutes, or until light golden brown. (Tip: The grissini are thin, so they can burn quickly. Watch them closely!)
- Allow grissini to cool and then store in an air-tight container for 2-3 days.
Looking for more breadstick recipes? Check out these other favorites, too: