Dishes to Know Before Traveling to Puglia

Updated: Sep 3, 2020

Where do Italians go for great food?

Straight to Puglia, where the cucina povera tradition celebrates the profound flavors of fresh, local produce. What’s amazing about the food in Puglia is that it boasts great flavor with minimal ingredients- only about 3-5 per dish.

On your way to a restaurant, you might pass fields of artichokes, fava beans, and of course, olives- all of which you’ll find featured on your plate in a variety of creative and tasty ways. However, Puglia is still considered a “hidden gem” destination and most menus (the good ones) aren’t in English.

Even if you do speak some Italian, you’ll need to learn the local dishes in order to truly discover Pugliese cuisine.

I’m here to help with that!

Get a head start with this Guide to Pugliese cuisine:

Purè di Fave con Cicorie

fave and cicorie in alberobello

Hearty, warm, and drizzled with olive oil, this was traditionally a dish for the poor which uses simple and whole ingredients that grow naturally in Puglia: fava beans and chicory greens (from the dandelion family). The thick puree has a similar texture and starchiness to mashed potatoes and is scooped onto grainy pieces of bread or mixed in with the greens.

It’s surprisingly filling and full of flavor that lets your mind wander back to imagine farmers enjoying the same dish in the middle of a hard day’s work.

Orecchiette con le Cime di Rapa

bowl of orecchiete pasta

Orecchiette, literally “little ears”, is Puglia’s handmade pasta specialty.  No matter how hard you try, you won’t be able to replicate the chewy al dente center and somewhat softer edges. There’s a surprising richness to this traditional dish that comes from the anchovy paste.

Balance that with the broccoli rabe which is cooked until no longer bitter and you have a typical, simple Pugliese dish that delights your taste buds.