What to eat in Puglia?
The sunny and windy climate of the area favors the cultivation of prestigious raw materials, such as extra virgin olive oil, which flavor dishes with its taste. But not only: among fish, vegetables, fresh cheeses and the excellent local wine, the palate will surely be delighted.
And you? Are you on holiday in Puglia and don’t want to miss the local delicacies? Here are 10 unmissable typical Apulian dishes.
Round, high, stuffed with whole tomatoes and olives: Focaccia is the queen of Apulian street food and the first unmissable food in Puglia. It is spread in many different versions: with onions, aubergines, vegetables, meats, cheeses and so on. Hot and crunchy, it is perfect as a main course or snack at any time of the day.
A fresh, light and typically summer dish: Apulian Friselle consist of crunchy Taralli produced with durum wheat flour cut horizontally in half and then baked until toasted. According to local tradition, they should be seasoned only with tomato, garlic, oil and salt.
Fried and stuffed. The classic one is with tomato and mozzarella, a valid alternative with ham and mozzarella. The important thing is to eat it very hot, just taken off from the oil, so that as soon as it is opened, the mozzarella will spin and leak. There are also baked Panzerotti but Apulian people say they don’t deserve to be called “Panzerotti”.
4. ORECCHIETTE CON LE CIME DI RAPA
The name of this kind of fresh pasta is due to its shape: a concave disk, smooth on one side and rough on the other, which reminds a small ear (in Italian “Orecchiette” literally means “Small ears”). They are among the most common Apulian dishes, and there is no restaurant or trattoria that does not have it on the menu, cooked in various ways: with tomato sauce, meat sauce, or vegetables. But the classic recipe is with turnip tops (Cime di rapa). For those who attend Puglia in the summer, keep in mind that the turnip tops are completely out of season, but there will be some wise cook who will have kept them stocks in the freezer in the right season.
5. RISO, PATATE E COZZE
The flavors of land and sea are combined in this dish which has rice, potatoes and mussels as ingredients. Originally among the Apulian typical dishes of feast days, it is a tasty main dish, to be eaten hot, freshly baked, but also cold, in summer, like an alternative rice salad.
6. LINGUINE AI RICCI
For those who love shellfish, Linguine with sea urchins is a must-have dish. A simple and fast-cooking first course to be enjoyed very slowly. The ingredients? Just linguine (kind of flat spaghetti), sea urchins, garlic, parsley and fine Apulian olive oil. Tasting it in a seaside restaurant makes it even better.
If in the evening the smell of roasted meat spreads through the alleys of the Valle d’Itria towns, it is why the grills of the butchers have come into operation. This is a typically Apulian tradition, which has its heart in Cisternino, considered the capital of Fornelli (grill restaurants). Here you can eat grilled meat and sausage. But the real specialty is the Bombette, small meat rolls stuffed with cheese, salt, pepper, spices, even if every Fornello has its secret recipe. The first to propose them, some forty years ago, it seems to have been a butcher of Martina Franca. Then they would then spread in all Valle d’Itria and beyond.
8. FAVE E CICORIE
This is a typical Apulian dish, as rustic as tasty: to compose this dish, in fact, there are only two ingredients: cooked and pureed dried broad beans and wild chicory, a wild herb with a bitter taste.
These small cakes originate from Salento but are now found throughout Puglia. They are small pastry tarts filled with cream and, usually, a black cherry. The Lecce confectionery has also reworked the recipe, proposing them with innovative fillings. If you are looking for the ideal coffee mate, you have found it.
Still a sweet, but this time more from the Gargano tradition, even if they also are found all around Puglia and betray the Arabic influences on these coasts. It is a typical Christmas dessert, but it has been seasonally adjusted and is easily found throughout the year. It is a rose-shape crunchy fried dough, seasoned with honey or vincotto (cooked wine), sometimes both. They keep long enough and are also a good souvenir.