They represent a pillar of the cooking tradition of the region. Orecchiette must be handmade, and they are concave with a circular shape, which makes them perfect to retain sauce. Their origin is a mystery but at the end of 1500, in the church of St. Nicola of Bari, a document was found, reporting a father donating his pasta factory to his daughter. The notarial deed stated also that the daughter's ability to prepare "recchietedde"
was the most relevant thing left for her dowry. They can be cooked either with tomato sauce or with turnip tops, anchovies and fried breadcrumbs
For centuries they have been the main nourishment of the farmers in the zone since they could be eaten in the days after they've been cooked, warmed up and dressed with onions. Fava beans without their peel are cooked in earthen jars (the pignata
). In old times, they were slowly cooked in fireplaces. They were turned into a puree and served with different side dishes.
They have Greek origins, and they acquired popularity after the downfall of latifundium. Frise spread in the countryside, where farmers used to spend summer and they ate them as an alternative to bread because they could be kept for long in "capase". They are donuts of durum wheat that are cooked and toasted in the oven. They are then dressed with olive oil, tomatoes, salt, and oregano.
They are rings made of not risen pasta cooked in the oven
. They can have different sizes and different flavors, but usually the most common is fennel seeds. The recipe dates back to 1400: some people believe the name comes from the Latin verb "torrère" (to sear), others believe it comes from the French "toral" (dying room). Taralli can be found in every Italian region, but the ones of Apulia are unique in the matter of simplicity and lightness
DRIED FIGS WITH ALMONDS
In the last century, they were defined as the chocolate of poor people:
it is an easy dessert, very popular among Apulian families. Figs are dried and cooked, then cut in half and filled with lemon reed and almonds. They are then preserved in earthen vases with laurel leaves.
It is made of ricotta cream that has fermented in order to get spicy. Its recipe is documented for the first time in the text "Descrizioni, origini e successi della provincia d'Otranto" by Girolmo Marciano (1571-1628), who also described its physical benefits. It is usually put on toasted bread or it is used to fill the typical Apulian "panzerotti".
It is a typical dessert that is sold during patronal feasts as it was born thanks to wandering patissier. It has a strong taste and it is made of flour, almonds, cocoa, clove, lemon juice, and sugar. The cookie is then glazed with sugar and cocoa.
They are made of crunchy puff pastry. They are typical of the period of Carnival
and their name changes according to the zone. Chiacchiere are very crumbly, and they are obtained by pulling a mixture of flour, frying it and then covering it with powdered sugar. The same dessert, during Christmas time, is covered with honey and it is called "cartellate".
ZEPPOLE OF ST. GIUSEPPE
They have Neapolitan origins, as they were invented by the Neapolitan pastry chef Pintauro, who lived in 1700. Zeppole were made for St. Joseph's Day. They have the shape of fritters with bigné dough
, and they are cooked in the oven or fried in olive oil, then filled with pastry cream.
It is a typical dessert of Easter time, which has a different name according to the areas they are made. They are made of the same pastry of cookies with flour, sugar, olive oil, eggs, and milk. The shape can be different (dove, basket, bag, cockerel or doll) and they have a boiled egg in the center. It used to be a gift for children.
FISH AND LAMB IN ALMOND PASTE
It is a dessert that for ages has been made only by Benedectine nuns, who kept a unique recipe! It dates back to 1680 thanks to the abbess Anna Fumarola, a noblewoman from Lecce, who also invented almond paste
. It used to be shaped on an earthen stencil and then filled with apple jam.