a tavola - the cuisine of apulia
(return to food)
Pugliese cuisine is based on olive oil, one of the great products of the
region. In any given year, Apulia produces as much as two-thirds of all the
olive oil in Italy, and while much of it is shipped north, more of it stays
right here to be used in Pugliese kitchens. Cooks in Apulia even deep-fry
with extra virgin oil, something that comes as a surprise to Americans but
is routine in many parts of the Mediterranean such as Sicily, Andalucia in
southern Spain and Greece.
Pugliese cuisine is definitely healthy, based on wild edible greens,
vegetables, whole-grain cereals, fish, raw salads, bread, fruits, herbs,
and lots of olive oil. Such high-fiber ingredients as cauliflower, peas,
lentils, and beans are as ingeniously worked into their recipes as are the
popular Mediterranean medley of tomatoes, green peppers and eggplant. One
of the most intriguing dishes is a fluffy puree of fava beans blended with
potatoes, bitter greens and aromatic olive oil of the best quality. Favas
are the preferred bean in this part of Italy, To save time and avoid an
overnight soaking and peeling, you can use the shelled and split favas
available at Middle Eastern markets.
When we lived in Milan, my late husband and I used to go often to a
Pugliese resturant in a cantina (basement) of a building near the
University of Milan. The decor was rustic with hand hewn chairs and
tables. The atmosphere was that of a party and the food was fabulous. The
following recipes speak for themselves.
ANTIPASTI - APPETIZERS
These can also be made in a sweet version, omitting the eggs and adding
a glass of sweet Marsala wine. Usually eaten with a glass of wine or
9 cups flour
1 cup olive oil
1/4 cup fennel seed
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
On a marble or cold kitchen surface place the flour, and mix in the baking
powder, fennel seeds, freshly ground pepper and salt. Form a mound shape
and make a well in the middle, in which you will break the eggs and pour
in the oil. Moving your fingers from the outside inwards mix all the
ingredients and knead the dough. Soften the dough by adding a little
warm water. Roll out into long thin rolls about 10" long. Loop the
ends around to form pretzel shapes and space them out to rise for a quarter
of an hour covered with a clean kitchen cloth. Heat the oven to 200�F.
Bring water to the boil in a large saucepan and dip the
taralli inside, remove them and dry. Place them on an oiled baking sheet
and bake for about 20 minutes. Serve cold.
PRIMI PIATTI - FIRST COURSES
MINESTRA/ZUPPA - SOUP
Zuppa di verdura stufata
The juices from the vegetables themselves serve to give the soup its
requisite "soupiness." This makes a very thick soup that should be served
immediately, otherwise the vegetables absorb the small amount of liquid and
it becomes dry.
1 lb eggplant (1 or 2 small eggplants)
1 large or 2 medium potatoes
1 medium carrot
2 medium red or yellow bell peppers
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus a little more for garnish
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped in 1-inch lengths
1/2 lb (1 bunch) fresh green or red chard, thinly sliced
1/2 lb green beans, sliced in 1-inch lengths
5 to 6 ripe red tomatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 medium zucchini, cubed
1/2 cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
3 or 4 sprigs fresh oregano
1 bay leaf
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 small dried hot red chile pepper, optional
Cut the eggplant in 1-inch cubes. Place the cubes in a colander, sprinkling
them liberally with salt. Weight the eggplant with a full can set on a
small plate and set the colander in the sink to drain for at least 1 hour.
Then rinse the cubes thoroughly and pat dry with paper towels.
Cut the potatoes and carrot into cubes the same size as the eggplant. Cut
the peppers in half lengthwise, discard the seeds and inner white
membranes, and slice thinly.
Add the oil to a big heavy saucepan large enough to hold all the vegetables
and place over medium-high heat. Quickly saut� the eggplant and potato
cubes for about 5 minutes, or until they just start to brown along the
Stir in the onion and celery, lower the heat to medium-low, and continue
cooking and stirring until the onion softens and starts to turn golden.
Add the carrot, chard, green beans, and peppers and stir to combine
everything well. Add 1/2 cup hot water to the vegetables in the pan, cover,
and cook together for about 5 minutes, then stir in the chopped tomatoes,
zucchini, and the aromatics, together with the hot pepper if desired.
Add a pinch of salt, cover tightly, and cook for 30 minutes, adding a very
little water from time to time if necessary. Remove the oregano sprigs, bay
leaf and rosemary sprig before serving.
Garnish each serving with a thin drizzle of olive oil.
Serves 6 - 8.
Adapted from Flavors of Apulia Nancy Harmon Jenkins Broadway Books.
Panzarotti di Mozzarella e Prosciutto - Cheese and Ham Panzarotti
A classic Italian panzarotti recipe with a ham and mozzarella cheese filling.
Panzarotti are quite like Ravioli, except that they are deep fried rather than boiled.
1 2/3 cups sifted flour
1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter, melted
1 egg yolk
A little milk, as needed
1/2 pound mozzarella cheese, chopped
2 ounces prosciutto, cut in slivers
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 eggs, beaten
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 eggs, beaten with a little water
Fat for deep frying, (half oil and half lard)
Sift the flour with the salt onto a board in a mound, hollow out the
center, and pour in the butter and egg yolk. Work the flour into the liquid
with the fingers, adding a little milk from time to time, as needed, to
make a smooth, well-blended, firm dough. Wrap it in a clean cloth and let
it rest for half an hour. Then put the dough on a lightly floured board,
roll it out, and fold it over on itself twice. Wrap it in the cloth again
and let it rest while you prepare the filling.
Put the chopped mozzarella, prosciutto, grated Parmesan cheese, and parsley
in a bowl; season with the salt, freshly ground black pepper, and nutmeg.
Add the eggs, and blend thoroughly.
Divide the dough in half and roll out two sheets, each 1/8 inch thick.
Brush one sheet with beaten egg and space small heaps of the filling on it
1 1/2 inches apart.
Brush the second sheet with beaten egg and lay it over the first sheet.
Press the fingers on the dough all around the spots of filling.
Then, with a pastry wheel, cut out squares, each containing a knob of
filling. Press the edges of each square down again to make sure that none
of the filling escapes during the cooking. As you finish the panzarotti,
line them up on a lightly floured cloth, taking care that they do not touch
each other. Heat the fat in a deep fryer or skillet to 375 degrees.
Dip the panzarotti into the beaten egg and drop them at once into the hot fat.
Remove them with a slotted spoon after about 6 minutes. They should be
crisp and golden. Drain on an absorbent paper. Sprinkle them lightly with
salt and serve at once. Serves 6. Optional filling ingredient: Add 1/2 cup
pineapple chunks, diced and drained, to the filling for an extra special
sweet, tart and flavorful panzarotti.
Serving suggestion: Serve the panzarotti on a bed of tomato sauce and
garnish with fresh chopped parsley flakes and Parmesan cheese chips.
Source: Flavors of Apulia Nancy Harmon Jenkins Broadway Books.
Spaghetti alle olive verde - Spaghetti with Green Olive Sauce
6 T extra virgin olive oil
3/4 cup freshly grated bread crumbs
3 salted anchovies or 6 oil-packed anchovy fillets
3 garlic cloves
1/2 small dried hot red chile pepper, crumbled, or 1/4 t
crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup coarsely chopped pitted green olives (about 1 lb whole olives)
salt to taste
1 lb spaghetti
Put a teaspoon of the olive oil in a small saucepan and toast the bread
crumbs in the oil over medium heat for a few minutes, until they are golden
brown and crisp. Remove from the heat and set aside. If you are using
salted anchovies, rinse them under running water to rid them of salt, strip
away the bones, and chop coarsely; if using anchovy fillets, simply chop
them. In 3 tablespoons of the remaining oil,
saut� the garlic cloves over medium heat until they are brown.
Add the chopped anchovies and, using a fork, stir and crush them into the
oil. Crumble the chile pepper into the oil.
Remove the garlic cloves and discard.
Stir the olives into the oil and let cook for about 3 minutes, just long
enough to mix the flavors. Set aside.
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a rolling boil.
Drop in the spaghetti and cook until done-10 to 12 minutes. As the pasta
finishes cooking, reheat the olive sauce. Drain the pasta and turn into a
heated serving bowl.
Add the remaining olive oil and the toasted bread crumbs to the olive sauce
and toss with the pasta. Serve immediately.
Serves 4 - 6.
Pitta Gratinata con sponzali
Kg 1.5 Potatoes
g 50 Flour
2 o 3 Eggs
g 150 Pure olive oil
g 100 Grated sheep's milk cheese
g 50 Parmesan cheese
One teaspoon cottage cheese
Kg 1 sponzali (spring onions)
2 laurel leaves
2 tablespoons capers
g 100 Black olives
g 150 Tuna
3 Anchovy fillets
g 50 Provolone cheese
Boil, peel and mash potatoes. Add flour, oregano, eggs, grated cheese,
ricotta cheese, salt and pepper.
Fry onions with laurel and finest pure olive oil. Add capers, tomatoes and
allow to cook. lastly add stoned olives, tuna and anchovy.
Oil a pan and place half of the pastry. Add filling and cover with
remaining pastry. Brush with oil and sprinkle with bread crumbs. Bake for
40 minutes at 200� (400 F).
Polenta di Ceci - Garbanzo Polenta
2-1/2 cups cold water
1-1/2 cups garbanzo flour (available in some natural foods stores)
1/2-1 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon olive paste (optional -- found in Italian and gourmet shops)
1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes, chopped (optional)
Put all the ingredients except 1 Tablespoon olive oil in a blender and whiz
until smooth. Transfer mixture to a heavy non-stick saucepan. Heat gently
to a low boil and cook over low heat, stirring, for 20 minutes. Add a
little bit more water if the mixture becomes too thick. Remove from heat.
Turn mixture out onto a piece of oiled wax paper and flatten until about
1/2-inch thick. Chill. When ready to serve, preheat an oven broiler. Cut
squares of polenta and place on an oiled cookie sheet. Brush liberally with
remaining oil and grill until firm, crisp, and golden. Top with sauce of
choice, such as a simple fresh tomato sauce.
SECONDI PIATTI - SECOND COURSES
CARNE - MEAT
Braciolini - Beef Rolls
These are braciolone if they're big, bracioline or braciolette if they're
small. In Apulia they might be made of lean veal, but more often they're
made of horse meat. You probably won't be able to find horse meat for this
dish, but young beef or veal will be an acceptable substitute.
Note that it is intended to be served as two courses, the first a sauce for
pasta (often orechiette), the second the meat, either on its own or with a little more
of the sauce. While some might find it odd to serve two courses with the
same flavors Pugliese think good things sometimes come in double doses.
8 thin boneless beef or veal scaloppine or cutlets (about 1 pound), pounded thin
8 very thin slices savory baked ham or pancetta
2 tablespoons minced pancetta for the soffritto
1/3 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 garlic clove, minced with the parsley
1 heaping tablespoon rinsed and drained capers
3 ounces pecorino or Parmigiano-Reggiano, cut in slender fingers
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped with the onion
1 carrot, scraped and finely chopped
1/2 cup dry red wine
2 cups coarsely chopped canned whole tomatoes
1 small dried hot red chile pepper or 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Finely minced basil or parsley for garnish, optional
Pound the beef cutlets with a meat pounder to stretch them and make them
very thin (or ask the butcher to do this for you). Lay a slice of ham or
pancetta on each cutlet, then sprinkle with a teaspoon of the garlic
parsley combination, a few capers, and a finger of cheese.
Roll each cutlet up over the filling and secure with a toothpick or tie
In a deep skillet over medium-high heat, brown the beef rolls on all sides
in the olive oil. Remove as they brown and set aside.
For the soffritto:
Add the minced pancetta to the pan together with the chopped onion, garlic,
and carrot, lower the heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring occasionally,
until the vegetables are soft but not brown. Add the wine, raise the heat
slightly, and cook, scraping up any brown bits.
When the wine has reduced by approximately half, add the tomatoes to the
pan and continue cooking for about 5 minutes to reduce and thicken the
tomatoes into a sauce.
The recipe may be prepared ahead to this point.
When ready to continue, heat the sauce over medium until it is simmering.
Crumble the chile pepper and stir into the sauce. Return the beef rolls to
the pan, spooning the sauce over them to cover well. Add salt and pepper.
Cover the pan, lower the heat to medium-low, and continue cooking for 25
minutes, or until the beef rolls are thoroughly impregnated with the
flavors of the sauce.
Serve the beef rolls with the sauce; or, if you prefer, serve the sauce
with pasta as a first course, reserving just a few spoonfuls to garnish the
beef rolls, which are served as the main course. Garnish with minced herbs
if you wish.
Variation: In Foggia, bracioline are made as they are in Naples, with a
few toasted pine nuts and some sultana raisins, plumped in hot water and
drained, added to the stuffing.
Serves 4 - 6.
Source: Flavors of Apulia Nancy Harmon Jenkins Broadway Books.
VERDURA - VEGETABLE
Fava Pure Cicorielle - Fava Bean Pure with Wild Greens
Enjoy fava bean puree with wild chicory. You can use a mixture of curly chicory, dandelion
greens, and a small amount of watercress to approximate the wild chicory found in Apulia.
1/2 pound dried, peeled mini fava beans (or 3 cups canned mini favas found
in Middle Eastern grocery stores and some Italian delis)
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
4 cloves minced garlic
1 pound torn greens, rinsed
If using dried favas, soak them for 8 hours and then blanch in a large
quantity of boiling water for 5 minutes. Drain blanched or canned fava
beans, add water to cover, celery, and onion. Cook until soft. Drain and
puree in a food processor. Season to taste and add 1 Tablespoon olive oil.
Heat 1 Tablespoon olive oil and saut� garlic until soft. Add greens with
only the water clinging to them. Steam 5 minutes or until just tender.
Mound the puree on a warm platter and spoon the greens over it. Serve warm.
Verdure ripiene alla pugliese - Pugliese Stuffed Vegetables
1 Kg. all together of zucchine, peppers, eggplants, tomatoes
120 gr. of sausage
Wash the vegetables. Cut in half and remove the pulp. Cut the pulp into
little bits and put it in a bowl; add the parsley, the minced garlic, the
eggs, the cheese, the olive-oil, the sausage without skin, the salt, the
pepper, the wild majoram and the thyme. Mix well.
Fill the vegetables with this mixture and put the vegetables in a
well-greased pyrex dish and bake for 45 minutes at 350 F.
Serves 2 or 3.
Puree of Fava Beans with Potatoes, Bitter Greens and Olive Oil
1 cup (5 ounces) peeled and split dried fava beans (available at Middle Eastern grocers)
2 medium Idaho or Yukon Gold (14 ounces) potatoes, peeled and thickly sliced
Freshly ground white pepper
1/2 pound watercress, dandelion, curly endive or wild chicory
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, preferably very fruity
5 cups water
Rinse the dried favas and drain. Put the favas in a 4-quart saucepan, add water to cover
and bring to a boil. Drain the favas, cover with 5 cups cold water, add 1 tablespoon of the
oil and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the potatoes and cook until the favas and potatoes are
tender and almost all the liquid has been absorbed, about 20 minutes. Season with 3/4
teaspoon salt. Meanwhile, roughly shred the greens and place in a covered saucepan with
just the water that adheres to the leaves. Set over low heat, add a pinch
of salt, and cook, covered, occasionally tilting the saucepan to drain off
the bitter liquid that forms. When the leaves are dry, add 1/3 cup water
and cook, stirring, until tender and the water has evaporated, about 6
minutes. Remove. Push the favas and potatoes through the fine blade of a food mill.
(Don't use the food processor.) Or mash the favas and potatoes by hand, and beat
in just enough of the cooking liquid left in the pan to make the mixture
smooth and fluffy.
Gradually beat in the remaining olive oil, then fold in the greens. Correct
the seasoning with salt and pepper. Pile the mixture lightly on a shallow
serving dish and serve while still warm. Do not reheat.
Makes 4 cups.
Zuppa inglese - Trifle
Zuppa inglese is a typical family dessert found in most regions of Italy
with slight variations; for example the sponge layers can be whole or
chopped up, pieces of fruit can be added to the custard, especially
delicious is the candied fruit, and the meringue topping can be
substituted with whipped cream.
* Alchermes liqueur may be hard to find. It is a deep red, very sweet
liqueur, made from spices and roses. It can be substituted by a liqueur
of your choice, like rum or Marsala wine.
3 layers sponge cake
alkermes 1 glass*
1 vanilla bean
5 tbsp sugar 18 floz/2 1/4 cups/1/2 L milk
for the meringue:
5 egg whites
7 oz./1 3/4 cups/200 gr. icing sugar
You can either buy the sponge cake ready made or follow the recipe. Make a
custard with the five yolks, the sugar, milk and vanilla bean. Line an oven
proof dish with a layer of sponge cake cut into squares. Wet the sponge
with the alkermes or rum so that it is well soaked. Pour on a layer of
custard. Spread another layer of soaked sponge and spread it with apricot
jam. Cover with a last layer of sponge cake. Pour the remaining custard on
top. Whip the egg whites to stiff peeks with the remaining icing sugar and
cover the cake by spooning out the egg white mixture. Pass it in the oven
at 350�F/180�C/G4 for a few minutes. As soon as you see the meringue top
turning golden remove it from the oven.
Serve cool in the oven dish.
Carteddate - sweet dry bread
These dry breads from Apulia are usually prepared for Christmas. The shapes
vary from butterflies, to rosettes to rings called love knots.
4 1/2 cups white flour
1 cube brewer's yeast (1 oz/20 gr)
runny honey or cooked wine
Melt the yeast in warm salted water. Put the flour on a work surface and
combine with the yeast,1/2cup olive oil and enough Marsala wine to make a
dough that is as firm as bread dough. Knead well and let it rise for two
hours in a warm draftless place. Roll out the pastry into a long rolls and
cut them into pieces. Fold these over to make circuler "love knots". Fry
these in plenty of oil. Place them on kitchen paper to drain off the excess
oil. In a large saucepan heat the honey or the vin cotto, and when it sarts
boiling place the cookies inside. Let them simmer a few minutes so they
absorb the honey. Pile them up on a serving dish and sprinkle with icing
sugar and cinnamon powder. Alternatively you can soak them in the cooked
wine. Great served both hot or cold.