05 December 2010


What the heck is fett'unta? It's a greasy, garlicy, piece of toasted or grilled bread. It is the Italian version of garlic bread and tastes delicious.

Fett'unta = fetta (slice) + unta (from the verb ungere, meaning greasy or oily) = oily slice or greasy bread.  End of math lesson.

In Tuscany, the traditional Tuscan bread is saltless and rather boring for that lack.  This happened because during the 12th Century the Pope put a hefty tax on salt, which the Florentines couldn't afford to pay. Even today, in the 21st Century, they continue to make bread without salt.   Saltless bread does not detract from the flavors of the rest of your well-seasoned meal.

At this time of year, late autumn, fett'unta is served more often in restaurants in Tuscany than during the rest of the year.  After the back-breaking labor of picking olives and then within a few days going to il frantoio (the olive mill), everyone rushes home with their new oil to make fett'unta and swallow it with a glass of Chianti. New oil is made from the first harvest of the olives in the fall when the olives are not quite as ripe as they become after a few weeks more in the sun.  The quality of the oil is peppery with a punch, the color is green, and the health benefits are higher.

Because I am not crazy about the plain, old Tuscan bread, I visit one of several of my favorite panetterie or forni (bakers or bread stores) and choose from a variety of whole grain breads.

Then I slice bread from the widest part of the loaf (not too soft nor too fresh).  Toast it or, better yet, grill it on top of the stove.  Cover with new virgin olive oil, and rub the bread with fresh garlic. If you like, add a little sea salt and pepper.  That's fett'unta. Enjoy!

What you do from here is up to you. What I have been doing is adding to the recipe as the Tuscan's do. This makes for a very healthful, quick to prepare, and economical dinner loaded with protein, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and flavor.

You could, for example, cook cavolo nero (lachinato kale) or bietola (beet greens): Boil water in a pan. After rinsing the leaves, place in the boiling water for about 30 seconds. Drain.

Add on top of the fett'unta.

Add some beans of your choice. I am using a mix of ceci (garbanzo beans) and cannellini (Italian white beans). I buy dried, organic beans. After soaking a minimum of eight hours and changing the water frequently (to reduce the gassy problem), I cook the beans in water with a small amount of olive oil, garlic, and some sea salt until the beans are al dente and the water is just cooked out.

Add the beans on top of the kale. Top with more new olive oil, sea salt, and pepper.

And wouldn't you know? All this talking about fett'unta caused me to crave some now. What better occasion than a visit by a friend? He's Italian, from another part of Tuscany. He'd never heard of it before and never ate it. So, of course, I made fett'unta for lunch. I thought it was cute how about five times I had to tell him the name, fett'unta, and why it's called that.  So maybe it's even more regional than I thought. No matter, he liked it. So will you.

Buon appetito.


  1. Wow, sounds, and looks, yummy! Please send a CARE package asap. Pretty please, with a cherry on top!

  2. you mean a pomodoro ciliegia (cherry tomato) on top?

  3. Hah! I am glad you got my too clever (I thought) but truly inane joke.

  4. That care package may be confiscated! The recipe sounds delicious. We don't have the "new" extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), but I have to make this!

    Pictures look great. Love the holiday decorations around town.