Cooking Puglian Classics

A virtual cooking lesson with a computer and chopping board

Through the month of May, we shared a range of Puglian recipes and cooking experiences with tour guests as part of our Virtual Tour of Puglia. It was a lot of fun and kept spirits alive through lockdown.

Given how much we love la cucina povera di Puglia, we stuck with cooking the classics to ensure we stayed truly immersed in Puglia, as we do when we are on our actual Tour of Puglia.  There were a number of highlights throughout the month, including matching some great Puglian wines with our meals, as we cooked and shared conversation, tips and stories.

Here we share just a couple of our favourite recipes from the month; Taralli and Orecchiette, and the video demonstrations to match.

We hope you enjoy.

A glass of white wine and home made taralli


INGREDIENTS (makes 60-80)

00 flour 550 g
Dry white wine 200 ml
Extra virgin olive oil 120 ml
Salt up to 10 g

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees.

To prepare the taralli, start by mixing the flour, salt and oil ingredients in a bowl, and give them a short stir until a crumb mixture is obtained.

Now add the wine, mix everything together and transfer the mixture to the pastry board to work it by hand for about ten minutes, or until a soft dough ball.

At this point, place a pot full of water onto the stove to boil.

After this time, remove some pieces of dough and shape them with your fingertips to form a bigolo (1 cm thick and about 12 cm long). Then wrap it around your finger and join the tips by folding one end over the other, in order to obtain a sort of donut shape.

As you mould each one, place the taralli on a tray with baking paper. When you have formed all the taralli, dip a few pieces at a time into the boiling water with the help of a slotted spoon. As soon as they rise to the surface, they will be ready to be drained on a tray lined with a clean tea towel; continue cooking all.

Transfer all the taralli to the baking dish with baking paper and bake in a preheated oven at 190 ° for about 40 minutes. Your taralli are ready, enjoy!

Taralli can be kept for a few days if kept tightly closed in a bag or longer in an airtight container. Freezing is not recommended.

You can flavour your taralli with your favourite spices: black pepper, fennel seeds or chilli pepper. Also oregano and/or rosemary, if you prefer aromatic herbs.

If you are wondering if it is necessary to blanch the taralli, the answer is no. So why do we do it? Without being blanched, the taralli will have more of a biscuit consistency and be less brittle. Try a test, so you can choose the version of your taralli that you prefer.

Watch the video of How to Make

A pan filled with gnocchi alla sorrentina


INGREDIENTS FOR ORECCHIETTE (for 4-5 people, we’ll make half of this)

Lukewarm water 200ml
Durum wheat semolina 400g
Salt to taste

To prepare the orecchiette, firstly pour the durum wheat semolina flour into a mixing bowl and add a pinch of salt.
Start slowly pouring the water, which must be at room temperature, and start working it together with your fingers to incorporate the flour a little at a time, absorbing the water.
Then work by kneading with your hands until a homogeneous and elastic consistency is obtained. It will take about ten minutes. Give the dough a round shape and cover it with a tea towel. It will rest at room temperature for about 15 minutes.
After the rest time, cut a piece of dough, while leaving the remainder covered by the tea towel. Roll the piece to about 1 cm thickness, and from this, cut each small piece to make each individual orecchiette, or ear.
With the help of a smooth blade knife, form small shells by dragging each piece towards you on the lightly floured pastry board. Then turn the shell over on itself to form your ear, using your thumb to create the shape. Continue in this way until you finish the dough.

INGREDIENTS FOR SAUCE (for 2-3 people)
Handful of fresh basil, chopped
Large clove of garlic, finely sliced
600ml tomato passata
Olive oil, approx. 2-3 tablespoons
Salted ricotta, grated
Salt, pepper to taste

Add the olive oil and garlic to the pan, and cook on medium heat until the garlic is slightly golden in colour.
Add the tomato passata to the pan and allow to simmer on a low heat for about 20 mins, stirring occasionally.
While the sauce is simmering, put the water on to boil with a pinch of salt added and once the water has boiled, add the orecchiette, allowing to cook until al dente, approximately 3-5 mins. They will rise to the surface when ready.
When the orecchiette are ready, strain, and add directly to the pan with the sauce and stir while still on a low heat, adding in the freshly chopped basil and grated salted ricotta.
Next add the pasta to bowls for plating.
Buon Appetito!

You can also dry your orecchiette covered (but not sealed) with a dry cloth; once dried, you can keep them for about a month.
Alternatively, if you would like to freeze them, it is advisable to freeze on a tray, spacing them out, and once frozen, transfer them to more convenient freezer bags for storage up to 3 months.

Watch the video of How to make the pasta and How to make the sauce.

Buon Appetito!

If you are interested in travelling to Puglia, visit our Puglia Cycling Tour page for more information on how riders and non riding partners share the magic of this great region of Italy with us.

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