Carciofini, which translates into “little artichokes,” are small Florentine breads that vaguely resemble in shape artichokes.
Bread is the quintessential Florentine ingredient. Lots of traditional recipes use stale bread to make deliciously comforting dishes. Although Florence’s most popular bread is pane sciocco (saltless bread), bakeries display a wide array of different Florentine breads. Carciofini is one of them. These artichoke-shaped panini are made with a generous amount of Tuscan extra virgin olive oil, which gives carciofini a firm texture and a piquant flavor. They have a crispy crust and a chewy crumb.
I find that carciofini pair beautifully with roasted vegetables and a variety of soft cheeses, including Taleggio and sheep’s milk ricotta. These cute panini are great stuffed with fresh ricotta cheese and grilled zucchini in the spring, with roasted pumpkin and aged pecorino toscano when the temperature starts to drop in the winter months. You can find good carciofini breads at several bakeries in town. If you’re in the Oltrarno area, don’t miss carciofini from Il Forno bakery. They’re the best!