What Is Carta Di Musica And How Is It Used?

While the mellifluous name may conjure images of musical instruments  — the name translates to "sheet music," according to Food & Wine — this delectable Sardinian delight sets the scene for any meal and is an excellent vehicle for many dips, garnishes, and toppings. More of a cracker than a flatbread, carta di musica is an ideal addition to any charcuterie, antipasto, or cheese board. It's also a lighter, healthier option than pita, naan, or another type of flatbread. Read ahead to learn more about the widely underappreciated and super-crisp treat. 

Light as air, paper-thin, and super brittle, carta di musica (also sometimes called pane carasau) is the best cracker you may have not tried before. Immensely versatile and often varying in flavor profiles and size, carta di musica can be tweaked and experimented with in a slew of manners — and every single one is absolutely delicious. According to La Cucina Italiana, it originally hails from the Barbagia area of Sardinia.

What is carta di musica?

These gossamer crackers or chips are super delicate and immensely crunchy. Spiced notes that legend has it the dough should be so thin that you could "read sheet music through it." In actuality, it is so thin that one really needs a rolling pin — or even a pasta machine — in order to press the dough as thinly as necessary. The ingredients are as basic as possible: a combination of all-purpose and semolina flour, water, salt, and olive oil. Some versions may also incorporate a touch of yeast, but it is by no means a necessary ingredient. 

When baking carta di musica, the oven must be incredibly hot, so crank it up all the way if you're looking to whip up some at home. A baking or pizza stone is an excellent option because the dough cooks super quickly, and the stone can also retain the heat from the uber-hot oven very well. Some make carta di musica in large sheets, which puff up as they cook and then "deflate" before being shattered or broken off into smaller crisps or crackers, according to Saveur. They're super fun to make, and they couldn't be simpler!

How do you eat carta di musica?

Unfortunately, store-bought carta di musica isn't really an option in most supermarkets and regions. At the same time, though, you probably already have the necessary ingredients in your kitchen as we speak. If you set some time aside, you'll have some incredible carta di musica on your table before you know it. 

When it comes to serving, there's really no need to go over the top with carta di musica — the crisp crunch is always welcome and is a delightful way to whet the appetite. According to Spiced, carta di musica is stellar simply drizzled with olive oil and sea salt but can also stand up to heavier garnishes, dips, or toppings, as well. You could even make a dessert carta di musica by dusting it with cinnamon-sugar or powdered sugar or pairing it with sweet dips such as jam or Nutella (via Culinary Immigration).

They're also delicious dipped into marinara sauce and topped with grated cheese. As Epicurious notes, carta di musica can also be broken up into soups to approximate a type or starch (rice, potato, or noodle), cooked with eggs, or even deep-fried. A stated by Saveur, there's also a lasagna-esque dish called pane frattau, which replaces noodles with sheets of carta di musica and then layers it between cheese and sauce.

Other versions of carta di musica

King Restaurant in NYC serves their carta di musica with bottarga butter and marjoram, which is an absolute flavor explosion! Bottarga is pressed or dried fish roe — usually mullet — that is then grated or shaved like you would parmesan directly onto foods to add a savory note of salinity and oceanic deliciousness. It's also a harmonious pairing that makes sense — both bottarga and carta di musica hail from the Italian island of Sardinia. Mangia!

This version from Saveur incorporates chile, capocollo or coppa, and Parmigiano-Reggiano. And this Food & Wine recipe is beautiful and nostalgic — like pressing flowers between books to flatten and preserve them, but instead imprinting herbs or edible flowers in carta di musica dough. Genius! Clearly, the options for carta di musica are endless: plain carta di musica with various topping, dips, or garnishes make up one "genre," while another would be carta di musica that has special seasonings, spices, or additional ingredients baked directly into the dough. You can't go wrong. 

Nutritional benefits of carta di musica

Carta di musica's versality makes it an amazing option for dinner parties or get togethers because it's so customizable. Also, because it's made from only flour(s) and a touch of water, salt, and oil, it is a vegan, vegetarian, dairy-free, and nut-free food. But you'll want to steer clear if you have gluten sensitivities. Another option, of course, would be making carta di musica at home and using a gluten-free flour option, as noted by The Jewels of New York.  Also, as mentioned earlier, it is rare to munch on carta di musica as is, so be sure to be careful with the toppings and garnishes, as they can certainly change the components of the dish from a dietary perspective. Furthermore, additional herbs, spices, toppings, or garnishes may also help to boost the overall nutritional benefits.

Today states that carta di musica is part of the Mediterranean diet lexicon — noted for its nutritional benefits and healthy lifestyle — and is "high in fiber and complex carbohydrates," which is beneficial for a healthy pancreas and doesn't cause any sudden fluctuations in blood sugar. Next time you're having people over and want to welcome them properly, put down the bag of chips or crackers and instead make some carta di musica — you should definitely have the necessary ingredients on hand. We promise that everyone will be impressed!