Sgabei are something that remind me of my grandmother Emilia. She was really good on preparing them. Thanks to her I got my first Sgabeo, when I was about 4 years old at my first Festa dell’Unità during the 80’s.
It was the typical food for popular feast. The Sgabei, for me, still mean have fun with friends during summer nights and family love.
Sgabei are a specialty of Lunigiana and are really simple to prepare. You need just some strips of raised dough (the same to prepare bread or pizza), 1-1,5 inch of height and 6 to 11 inch of width. The strips of dough have to be fried in peanuts oil until they become brown and then salt them on the surface. Frying the dough strips, they rise rem but remaining empty on the inside. So sgabei can be eaten plain, or filled with cold cuts or cheeses. If you like a sweet taste, fill them with Nutella cream and put sugar instead of salt on the surface of sgabei. My favourite stuffing is stracchino cheese and raw ham.
The Story of Sgabei
Sgabei are originating from Valle del Magra in Lunigiana, a boundary area between Tuscany and Liguria. In the past, women created a kind of fried bread, frying the left-over dough prepared for backing bread using pork lard. Sgabei were the lunch for men who were working all day long in the fields. Originally the bread dough was prepared using corn flour, to make it more crunchy and wet.
Nowadays in Lunigiana it is common to find Sgabei as typical food for countryside festival, or as antipasto in specialty restaurants.
Sgabei, the specialty of Lunigiana
- 4 cup weat flour
- 0.18 oz sea salt
- 1 tablespoon brewer’s yeast
- 1.5 glass water
- 2.5 cup peanut oil
- Pour the brewer’s yeast in a ½ glass of warm water, add a teaspoon of sea salt and mix to dissolve it.
- Pour the flour on the work surface. Create a shape of a volcano with the flour and create a hole on the center top.
- Pour the water with brewer’s yeast and sea salt in the hole and start to knead well till the mixture become smooth and soft.
- When the mixture is done, cover it with a rag to make it rise for an hour, in a warm place, so the dough can double its size.
Cutting the dough
- Later, when the dough rised, rolled the dough and cut it into strips of 1-1,5 inch of width and approximately 6-11 inch of length.
- Make the strips rise for other 30 minutes.
Deep Frying Sgabei
- Take a pan and pour peanut oil on it.
- When the peanuts oil reachs an high temperature, put the dough strips in deep-frying. Let them fry first one side, then turn them on the other side. Strips have to be completely fried till they are golden brown and crispy.
- Finally drain Sgabei on paper towels and season with salt. Enjoy them hot with cheese and cold-cuts, or with nutella (in this case use sugar instead of salt).