Puglia is worldwide famous for the typical dishes of its traditional cuisine: a trip into this region is, indeed, an immersive trip of the senses. 

A vacation in Puglia offers history and nature at will, besides cuddling body and mind with the colours, the scents, and the unmistakable tastes of its food tradition.
After having tasted the best typical Apulian recipes, many tourists become convinced (and who can blame them?) that they cannot live without anymore! Thinking of the marvels of the Heel of Italy, we would like to propose to you a menu from Salento, that you will be able to prepare at home, wherever you are. At the base of these recipes there are, indeed, simple ingredients, easy to find in every region, even abroad!

In this way, waiting to come back to Puglia and make a feast of your favourite dishes, you will have the possibility to have at least a taste whenever you want. Ready for a mouth-watering journey?

Let us start with the appetizers!

Since you cannot always count on the presence of the typical Apulian products, we can also suggest some effective personalization. An example? If you do not find friselline, or friseddhre salentine, in the supermarkets or bakeries of your town, you can choose some simple bruschetta (toasted slices of bread) and season them with fresh tomatoes and Apulian evo oil. The result will be (almost) similar and however of great effect.

Here is how to prepare your bruschettas “alla salentina: season your slices of bread, preferably of durum wheat, with a drizzle of oil, before toasting it. For an extra touch, you can rub some garlic on the bread before baking it or shred some crunchy onions to add to the rest. Once churned out, season it with diced tomatoes, some leaves of basil or oregano (or both!) and a copious drizzle of oil. They will be delicious!

Among the appetizers, you can also include a tasting of the typical “peperonata salentina”, very easy recipe and true explosion of taste. After having sauté garlic and onion in a little bit of oil, preferably evo oil from Puglia, add the peppers cut into strips and without the inner filaments, and brown them for a few minutes and flip them from time to time. Add the diced tomatoes, pitted olives and, if you like, some capers. Let simmer for about 20 minutes, taste to season with salt and, once cooked, add some fresh parsley for the presentation of one of the best appetizers always present on Apulian tables.

The true star of the table: how to prepare the eggplant parmigiana!

The eggplant parmigiana “alla salentina” is a traditional recipe of Puglia cooking tradition you must absolutely taste during a holiday in the Heel of Italy.

The ingredients at the base of this gastronomic specialty are very simple, but their combination gives birth to a true pleasure for the palate. It is impossible to resist!

Ingredients for 6 people

  • 1,5 kg eggplants
  • 3 eggs
  • flour
  • onion
  • 1 l tomato sauce
  • basil
  • 150 g grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  • 150 g mortadella or ham
  • 1 medium mozzarella
  • evo oil and salt as required

“Traditional” recipe

First, prepare the sauce: heat the oil and add a chopped onion until it is lightly browned. Then, add the tomato sauce and let it simmer for about one hour. Add some leaves of basil before turning off.

Meanwhile, wash, clean and cut the eggplants in slices. Put them into a colander sprinkled with salt and leave them to rest for one hour, so that they can release the water in excess.

Dry the eggplants and pass them into the flour and the egg wash. After that, you can start to fry in boiling oil.

Pour some sauce on the bottom of a pan and start to place the fried slices of eggplants covering all the surface. Cover this first layer with pieces of mozzarella, mortadella (or ham), grated cheese and other sauce. Keep on in this way adding new layers: watch out to cover the last layer of eggplants with copious tomato sauce and a sprinkle with Parmigiano. Lastly, bake it in the oven for about 30-40 minutes, 200°C.

Curiosities and other versions

The one we have just presented is the original Puglia recipe of the parmigiana alla salentina, but many variants and personalization are possible.

If, for example, you would like to taste this dish in its lighter version, you can choose to grill the eggplants rather than fry them.

Otherwise, if you love food challenges and you are ready to eat a super explosive dish, you can even add meatballs or pieces of hard-boiled eggs: each grandmother from Salento prepares it in this way!

And, since it is so tasteful that nobody can do without it, you can also prepare a vegan version of the eggplant parmigiana, without meat and dairy products, but with vegan bechamel made of soy butter and soy milk. In this recipe, we suggest, however, to add some breadcrumbs for a crispier result.

Actually, the origin of parmigiana is disputed by different Italian regions, so that we can consider it a typical dish of the Mediterranean cuisine in general. However, its preparation is so deep-rooted in the culinary tradition of the Heel of Italy, that cannot but include it among the delicacies of the Apulian gastronomy. It is no coincidence that over the years it has become the traditional dish of the day of Saint Oronzo in Lecce, to be tasted with the family for the lunch of a hot day of late August!

And for dessert?

After such a hearty meal, you will need a fresh and tasteful dessert, to be accompanied by seasonal fruit, always abundant on the tables of the Apulian families.

If Italian ice-cream is an excellence appreciated all over the world, the spumone from Salento is its maximum enhancement. What is it? It is a dessert consisting of hazelnut and chocolate ice-cream with a heart of sponge cake and brittle.

Preparing the spumone from Salento at home is very easy. Get some dome-shaped moulds and fill them with hazelnut and chocolate ice-cream. Leave a space in the middle, that you will fill in with the sponge cake sprinkled with liqueur and mixed with chopped almonds and pieces of chocolate. Put the moulds in the freezer and let the spumone solidify.

Serve it with iced coffee with almond milk, a summer specialty made in Lecce.

A trip into the tastes of Puglia

The Apulian typical products are many and very delicious. During a lunch you can have a taste of them, but it is not enough to have an exhaustive idea of how much pleasure is produced in the kitchens of this corner of the world.

In Food and Wine experiences in Puglia the best typical products of Puglia food and wine tradition were the protagonists of a true trip into the tastes of the region.

In every itinerary studied and proposed by Slow Active Tours at least one stage to taste the local excellences is always included, such as in Salento bike tour. Our tours are available to everyone and customizable according to your specific needs: do not hesitate to contact us for an unforgettable experience!