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Sage Bread Sticks (Grissini alla Salvia)

Thin, crunchy bread sticks turn up in many Italian breadbaskets. When flavored with sage or other herbs, they become a lovely accompaniment to a glass of wine. Or you might wrap them with thin slices of prosciutto and place them on an antipasto platter.

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 tsp. (1 package) active dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm water (105° to 115°F)
  • 3 1/2 to 4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. dried sage, finely crumbled
  • 1/3 cup olive oil

Directions:

In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water and let stand until creamy, about 5 minutes. Stir until dissolved.

In a large bowl, using a wooden spoon, stir together 3 1/2 cups of the flour, the salt and the sage. Add the yeast mixture and the olive oil. Stir until a soft dough that holds its shape forms, about 2 minutes. Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. If the dough feels sticky, knead in flour as needed.

Oil a large bowl, place the dough in it and turn it once to coat the top. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Preheat an oven to 400°F.

Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured kneading board. Punch down, then cut into 4 equal quarters. Working with one quarter at a time, cut the dough into 18 pieces. Keep the remaining quarters covered with plastic wrap. Using your palms, and working with one piece at a time, roll out the dough to form a rope 10 inches long. Place the ropes 1 inch apart on ungreased baking sheets.

Bake until crisp and browned, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining dough quarters. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.
Makes 6 dozen.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Savoring Series, Savoring Italy, by Michele Scicolone (Time-Life Books, 1999).