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Roman Cloud Bread with Mixed Greens and Fennel Salad
2 hours 45 minutes active
We learned about this unique take on Italian bread and salad, called panzanella nuvola di roma, from Angelo Arrigoni of Panificio Arrigoni, a 93-year-old bakery just outside the Vatican. The crisp yet pleasantly chewy, cracker-thin flatbreads are known as nuvola or “cloud” bread, a nod to their airy texture and puffy shape. Once cooled, the rounds are cracked open, creating a delicious bowl for bitter greens, often accented by resinous pine nuts and salty, nutty Parmesan cheese. Some bakery patrons slice off a “wedge,” yielding a portion of bread with salad inside; others simply tear the bread by hand and use it to scoop up salad. We found that a blend of bitter greens and sturdy romaine hearts, plus thinly sliced fennel, stood up best to our punchy lemon-anchovy dressing. The breads can behave somewhat unpredictably in the oven. Occasionally even within the same batch, three will puff impressively while the fourth... not so much. If you end up with a bread or two that puffs less, rather than crack it open and fill it with salad, simply break it in half or quarters and serve the pieces alongside. For make-ahead convenience, the baked breads will keep at room temperature for a few hours, but the salad won’t hold, so assemble it just before serving.
For the bread:
grams (2 cups) bread flour, plus more for dusting