One of the simple pleasures when traveling in Northern Italy is indulging in a relaxing pre-dinner aperitivo, which depending upon where you may be is paired with tramezini. Those tiny, tasty, triangular sandwiches just seem to pair perfectly with a Spritz, Prosecco, or TrentoDOC; a delightful way to start the evening.
Tramezzini are made with sliced white bread from which the crusts have been removed. Fillings vary depending upon the region and availability. Often you will find a tuna spread, prosciutto, Gorgonzola or other soft cheeses, a bit of arugula, and depending upon the filling the addition of a bit of mayonnaise.
The word tramezzino translates to sandwich, yet tramezzo literally means “in the middle”. These delightful tea sandwiches are said to have originated at Cafe Mulassano in Torino in 1925, although I must tell you some controversy exists as Venetians consider them their own. Tramezzini are wildly popular in Venice making a nice addition to the requisite aperitivo hour.
The ingredients for tramezzini are few, but as with anything quality is what distinguishes them. In Italy, a superior white bread baked specifically for tramezzini is used. My local artisan bakery, just footsteps away from the office makes the absolutely perfect bread. The filling begins with a blend of European butter and chives which is topped with sliced hard cooked egg and a bit of anchovy.
Traditional tramezzini are double sided and triangular, but why not include a smattering of open face petit squares just to add some interest to the plate.
Tramezzini are a divine little nibble for summer entertaining. Fo ahead, give this recipe a try and then create some tramezzini of you own – don’t forget to send me photos!
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- 6 slices of artisan style sliced white bread
- 4 Tbs. of unsalted European butter, softened at room temperature
- 1 Tbs. freshly chopped chives
- 3 large eggs, hard cooked
- 8 anchovy fillets
- Fresh chives for garnish
- Place the uncooked eggs in a saucepan that will accommodate them in a single layer. Cover with 1 inch of cool water, place the saucepan on a burner over medium heat and slowly bring to a boil. Wait for the water to come to a boil, but during this time give the eggs a few gentle stirs to insure that the cooked egg will have the yolk centered. Once the water comes to a boil, turn off the heat, cover and allow to rest for 10 to 12 minutes.
- Drain the eggs under cold running water to stop the cooking process. Begin to peel the eggs, one at a time under cold running water. Place the peeled eggs on a paper towel lined plate.
- Allow the peeled eggs to cool. Once completely cool, thinly slice each egg using an egg slicer or sharp knife, set aside.
- Add the chopped chives to the softened butter and combine completely; a fork with small tines generally works quite well.
- Assemble the white bread, stacking two or three slices. Using a serrated knife trim off the crusts, leaving squares of crustless bread.
- If you are planning on preparing some open faced sandwiches, each slice of bread will make 4. I used two slices of bread for this, buttering them quite liberally on one side. With the remaining 4 slices of crustless bread you need to butter each slice a bit more lightly on one side.
- Assemble the open face sandwiches by laying a 4 slices of the hard cooked egg in each quadrant of the bread. Using a serrated knife, cut the slice of bread into quarters, using the positioned egg slices as a guide. Lay a half piece of the anchovy fillet in the center of each egg slice.
- Assemble the triangular sandwiches in the same way using one of the buttered slices of bread as a base. Top with 4 slices of egg in the same fashion followed by a half of an anchovy filled on each. Top with the second slice of butter bread, the buttered side should be on the inside of the sandwich. Repeat the process with the last two pieces of buttered bread.
- Press the sandwiches together lightly and with a serrated knife slice each on a diagonal, creating two larger triangles. Slice again in the opposite direction so that 4 tramezzini have been made from each of the larger sandwiches.
- Arrange the tramezzini on a decorative plate and garnish with fresh chives. Typically these are best served within a few hours.