Totoro Family Recipes: Tarella

tarella-4My husband is 100% Italian. As far as I know, I’m 100% Texan. He has a great ethnic heritage; I am more of a mutt.

In my family, we followed recipes – usually cut from local newspapers or found in tried-and-true cookbooks. In his family, recipes were passed down from generation to generation, rarely written down, requiring Β more of a hands-on apprenticeship.

So when we married, I began training.


tarella-6Geoff focuses on the pasta recipes (stuffed shells with Italian “gravy” are his specialty) while I have tried to learn the traditional holiday dishes. TarrellasΒ were often served at Easter.

While Geoff’s grandmother, the youngest in a family of eight, was born in the United States, several of her siblings came from the “old country.” I think the Italian spoken in the home was a mix of English, Italian, and some unknown dialect.

Cora’s recipe is called Tarella … although she pronounced it “Tah-dall” … and when I did a google search, most recipes are known as Taralli. Slightly confusing…

Before traveling to Italy last spring, I would have described this bread product as an Italian bagel. A very bland, lighter bagel. However, in Italy they are more like a snack cracker – similar to the way we eat pretzels. And they come in a variety of savory as well as sweet flavors.

This recipe, however, is the one that is near and dear to my husband’s heart. It is his comfort food – and while a little time consuming to make, I don’t mind this labor of love.


  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2.5 cups flour (plus a little more)


  • Beat the eggs, salt, pepper and oil and then slowly add the flour
  • Turn mixture onto floured board and knead about 10-15 minutes, adding flour as needed. Dough should no longer be sticky but soft and elastic
  • Let rest about 15 minutes, and then knead a few more times
  • Cut small pieces of dough and form into individual rings (in Italy the rings are small – about 2 bites, but Cora made them as large as bagels)


  • Drop rings into boiling water for about 10 minutes (don’t crowd… about 4-5 at a time is ample)


  • Remove from boiling water and let cool


  • When they are cool, place on baking sheet and bake at 425 degrees for about 25 minutes

Fortunately my rolling abilities improved over time

This post is a part of BethFishReads’ Weekend Cooking link-up. For more delicious recipes, please visit this weekly blog feature.

16 thoughts on “Totoro Family Recipes: Tarella

  1. That’s a new type of pastry to me, very interesting to learn about them. I looked around on the web and evidently several sources sell ready-made ones. I’m sure yours are nicer!

    best… mae at


  2. How fun and how lucky for your husband that you undertake that labor of love for his favorite comfort food. They look delicious. (I think I might be tempted to treat them like a bagel and dip them into a veggie or lox and cream cheese schmear!) πŸ˜‰


  3. The process is similar to bagels too, with the boiling first. I’d like to give them a try if they’re lighter, as you say. Maybe sprinkle with poppy seeds?


  4. I bet these would be great to have with wine before dinner. I’m also thinking one could change the flavors … add some herb, a little Parm cheese, chili powder. The wheels are turning….


  5. I love the step by step, I have never tried making something like this before. Adding different flavors would change out thet Taste, I agree with BFF, some Parmesan would be good.


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