What to eat in the Puglia region?
Updated: May 30
Typical Apulian cuisine combines ingredients from the sea thanks to the coast's abundance of fish, but also products from the land thanks to its agricultural crops. Based on deeply Mediterranean ingredients such as vegetables and cereals from the fertile countryside, ranging from homemade street food to refined culinary preparations. Let's see together how to enrich your menu during a visit to a beautiful city in this region, but don't forget to drink a little glass of Allorino, which is a must on an Apulian table.
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Concerning the starter, this dish is made with simple, fresh ingredients that make it perfect for summer. Stale, toasted bread or the so-called freselle are seasoned with very juicy fresh tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, oregano, basil, chopped onion, and garlic.
Orecchiette alle cime di rapa
The best-known recipe from this region includes the preparation of a pasta called 'orecchiette' because of its shape of small ears. This type of fresh homemade pasta is seasoned with turnip greens and cut into small pieces. In the Bari dialect, they are called ' récchietèdde ' and are usually flavored with a few anchovy fillets and chili pepper, sautéed with a crunchy touch of pan-fried breadcrumbs. This is a dish that you absolutely have to try if you want to get closer to real traditions in Puglia.
Ciceri e Tria
Ciceri, which means chickpeas in Latin and itriya in Arabic for pasta, this dish has these two simple ingredients. Widespread throughout Salento, it is prepared on the feast of St Joseph (19 March) but what makes it unique is the way the pasta is cooked, as it is partly fried and partly boiled and then combined with a sauce made from chickpeas, olive oil, onion, garlic.
Tiella di riso, patate e cozze
A kind of Italian paella, its name comes from the vessel in which it is prepared, namely 'Tiella', which is an earthenware pot. The ingredients are rice, mussels, and potatoes mixed with onion, tomatoes, garlic, parsley, and breadcrumbs. When the Spanish influence arrived, mussels were added to this peasant dish. But in reality, even today this dish is prepared with different ingredients: there is the tiella capricciosa with mushrooms and lampascioni, the tiella tarantina, similar to the Bari style but with courgettes, and many others.
Frittata di Lampascioni
Lampascioni is a wild herb that resembles onions and grows luxuriantly in Apulia. This ingredient has been combined with eggs, creating an omelet topped with stewed spring onions. Enjoy with slices of Apulian Altamura bread.
with a high and soft dough, the Apulian focaccia will make you fall in love. It is stuffed with tomatoes marinated in oil, oregano, and a pinch of salt. Some make it with potatoes added to the dough, depending on which part of Puglia you visit. and if you like these types of quick and tasty snacks, we recommend you try Rustici (rustics from Lecce) filled with béchamel sauce, tomato, and mozzarella. A crumbly and tasty treat.
Small meat rolls prepared with slices of capocollo and stuffed with cheese (caciocavallo), salt, pepper, and spices. We recommend drinking it with a nice glass of Gioia del Colle Doc. Originating in the Itria Valley, they can be served as a second course or as street food. Another similar dish is Marro, made with lamb or Gnumariedd lamb or kid innards rolls,
A fish dish, we couldn't pass it up. This is a dish of fried bluefish marinated in breadcrumbs soaked in saffron and vinegar and is enjoyed in the Gallipoli area. That is why it is called “gallipolina”. It originates from the food preservation methods used in the Middle Ages by the inhabitants of this area, and today you can find out that it’s the star of each village festival.
If you want to find out about the main events, take a look at the articles on Apulian cities on our blog.
Also called carteddate are puff pastry sprinkled with vincotto, honey, spices, and almonds, protagonists of the Christmas tables of Apulian families. In fact, they are said to be shaped like Jesus' aureole.
The must-have sweet par excellence is a simple and special oval pastry cake filled with custard. Perfect for breakfast but also as a snack for sweet lovers.
Curiosity: the legend says that this cake was born from a confectioner who did not have enough dough to make a cake and decided to create a small pie.
If you ask around about typical Apulian products, surely one of them is Tarallo whose history seems to date back to the 400s. Crumbly and crispy, they are rings of unleavened dough baked in the oven. The basic dough consists of flour, water or wine, oil, and salt. There are many variations: with fennel, wine, almonds, sugar icing, chocolate, aniseed, and much more. Some also have a name, such as Poperato and Occhi di Santa Lucia.
Crumbly sweet sugar braids, decorated with whole almonds in the center of each braid. These sweets come in many varieties from savory to sweet coffee and are offered at christenings and weddings because their braided shape symbolizes union.
Also known as corrucolo, this is a traditional Easter cake. It is shaped like a doughnut with hard-boiled eggs in the shell on top, held in place with two strips of dough twisted into the shape of a cross. The eggs must be freed from the intertwined dough, hence its name scarcella (scarce rare - to release). They are covered in white icing with colored sugar grains and its shape varies according to preference, it can be a bunny, a dove, or a basket.
A typical Salento drink made with coffee, ice, and almond milk is ideal to start your visit to the beautiful Puglia or refresh yourself in the afternoon. Once you've tasted this drink, you'll hardly be able to do without it!
Allorino and Finocchietto Liqueurs
Among the tasty liqueurs made in Apulia, the most prominent in the region are Allorino, a bright green liqueur, a fragrant and aromatic digestive liqueur made from laurel leaves; and finochietto, a liqueur made from wild fennel to be enjoyed cold at the end of a meal.
Wine is also a characteristic element of Apulian culinary culture. These include Primitivo di Manduria, one of the main red wines of Apulia, with an aftertaste of black fruits such as currants, cherries, and plums, and the Salice Salentino with fruity and spicy tones.
This is the end of this article, we hope you enjoyed it! Don't hesitate to like and share it! And if you like to learn about Italian food, don't hesitate to read our other articles, like what to eat in Sicily, in Cagliari, or in the Liguria region. And if this is because you are going to travel to Puglia, don't hesitate to read our articles about visiting Lecce, Monopoli, and Bari.
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