Puglia is home to many of the foods that Italy is famous for. Pugliese cuisine is simple and delicious, relying on fresh, local produce and traditional recipes. There’s an abundance of amazing ingredients to choose from including chickpeas, tomatoes, home-grown herbs and spices, olives and olive oil, and of course fresh seafood. Read on for 5 local dishes to try in Puglia.
Orecchiette con Cime di Rapa
Orechiette con Cime di Rapa is a classic Pugliese recipe you’ll pretty much find everywhere in the region. Served simply with a douse of olive oil and vegetables cooked in the same pan as the pasta, it’s hard to imagine how such simple flavours can deliver such a robust taste. The rapa offers a delightful tang of bitterness against the sweetness of the fresh tomatoes and the richness of the olive oil.
Popular in local homes, Orecchiette literally translates to “small ears” in Italian, so named after the shape of the pasta. The thickness of this handmade pasta and the way it collects and retains any sauce makes it a rich and filling meal. The most iconic dish of Puglia, Orecchiette is best tasted during winter when turnip tops have matured.
Made from baked pasta dough, Taralli is Puglia’s answer to the pretzel. Small and round, these crackers make for a delicious snack, especially when paired with a glass of Pugliese wine. A regional specialty, Taralli are made from flour, white wine, olive oil and salt. They come in a variety of irresistible flavours so you can have them savoury, infused with fennel, poppy seeds or black peppercorns; or sweet with added sugar and white wine.
On your visit to Lecce, don’t miss out on the Pasticciotto Leccese. On the outside, this dessert looks like a flaky crust. But once you take a bite you’ll be delightfully surprised by the creamy custard filling sweetened with black cherries. This heavenly dessert is made from shortcrust pastry filled with custard and baked in the oven. Fans of Nutella will appreciate a brown pasticciotto with cacao added to the pastry and a layer of Nutella underneath the custard.
Pane di Altamura
A lovely town at the centre of Puglia, Altamura is famous for its delicious bread. Made from durum wheat flour cultivated locally, the bread is massive and round. It has an outer crust that’s 3mm thick, which guarantees that the crumb remains soft and lasts longer. The roots of this bread date back to Roman times when Latin Poet Horace wrote that it was “the best bread in the world.” Every morning in Altamura, you can smell the scent of this freshly baked bread wafting through the town.
Hearty and delicious, Tiella is one of the most typical dishes from the Bari area of Puglia. Similar to Spanish paella, Tiella features a divine mix of rice, mussels, potatoes, pecorino and cacioricotta cheese, sometimes with a tiny sprinkle of crunchy breadcrumbs. Baked in the oven, the presence of tomato, onion and oregano adds colour and flavour to the recipe. This hearty casserole makes a very satisfying light dinner or a first course of a substantial meal.
Every foodie visiting Italy is eager to discover the classic foods of the regions they visit. When heading to Puglia, you want to explore the best cities and towns through their food specialties. With such a rich and creative cuisine, it’s difficult to choose just one recipe from Puglia. But with this list you are guaranteed to be dining on the most delicious traditional delicacies from the region.