Updated: Oct 6, 2020
Ahhh, the flavors of Puglia! My mouth literally waters just thinking about it. From plates of fresh grilled seafood to hand-rolled pasta and piles of hearty vegetables, food in Puglia is an experience. In fact, it’s an experience all Italians crave, too. When I ask my local friends where they go to eat really, really well, throughout Italy the answer is “Puglia!”.
While there’s plenty of food in Puglia that you should try (really, options are endless!), there is one dish in particular that hits all the notes: salty carbs, seafood flavor, and that simplicity that Pugliese dishes are known for (usually just 3 – 5 ingredients). Not to say it is my #1 favorite dish—I could never do such a thing as choose ONE—but it’s a dish I dream of when I’m back in the US and the cold winter months are creeping in.
I filmed Maria as she recounted her Riso Patate e Cozze recipe, but she was a bit too shy to imagine herself going viral on Facebook, so alas I’ll have to describe it to you! Here it is…
Riso Patate e Cozze – Typical Food in Puglia
When it comes to food in Puglia, it’s no secret that knowing a local pays off (especially when it comes to eating!). And on my 28th birthday, my friend Paolo was unraveling birthday secrets as we wandered his hometown of Polignano in the southern Italian region of Puglia (or “Apulia” if English is a must). Finally, we ended up seated at a table with three plates of seafood appetizers. Meanwhile I was Instagraming the heck out of everything (food in Puglia is just too beautiful to not do so!!) when the waiter arrived with six more plates. Following those six were not one but two primi dishes, a plate of pasta and a plate of riso patate e cozze. Then dessert. Then limoncello. Then me wishing I could make my stomach hungry again so I could get gelato after. Boy, the food in Puglia really brought out the glutton in me!
Photo by Marco Totaro
We dined so long that the restaurant emptied and the chef came out to take a breather. Paolo, being friends with the chef, introduced us and I proceeded to get her recipe for Riso Patate e Cozze at all costs. So… I’ll stop chattering on about the delicious food in Puglia and let you get to it- here you have the original Riso Patate e Cozze recipe as recited to me by Maria…
garlic-infused olive oil
How to Make Riso Patate e Cozze
Photo by Paolo Giannuzzi
1. Slice the potatoes thinly and put them in a deep roasting pan for the oven, coated with olive oil. Sprinkle parmesan, tomatoes, parsley, lots of onions, salt, and pepper over them.
2. On top of the potatoes, add a layer of opened mussels with the same toppings (parmesan, tomatoes, parsley, onion, salt & pepper). Then do the same for the layer of rice.
3. Repeat in layers until the baking dish is full. Top with a generous drizzle of garlic-infused olive oil.
4. Fill the baking dish with water until the contents are covered by ½ inch. Cover with foil and bake at 350F for 50 minutes. Remove the foil and cook uncovered to brown the top, put under the broiler if needed.
I apologize that there are no exact measurements, but such is the way with food in Puglia and authentic Italian cooking! Just do what seems right to you, and improve the next time. However, if you really want more structure to go by, here is another recipe!
Give it a try and let us know what you think!
PS: Want to try more food in Puglia and meet locals in southern Italy? I lead small group trips with just 7 guests to help you have more authentic and meaningful travel experiences. I’d love to see you there! Take a look at our upcoming trips today!