Are you looking forward to trying the typical Salentine cuisine but don’t know at all what are the traditional dishes of the place you’re going to visit in your upcoming vacations?
Good, this article is for you.
Here’s a small list of the traditional Salentine dishes that you’ll enjoy mainly in the trattoria’s, taverns, and restaurants that you’ll find on your journey as a food loving tourist.
Minchiareddri with tomato sauce and meatballs
This dish is a mix of simplicity and taste, but there are some tricks to get the most out it:
– Minchiareddri is a typical Salento macaroni that’s more flavourful if they are of burnt wheat which is from toasted wheat to make it darker.
– The sauce has to be very thick and not acidic. If it’s dripping with oil then you’re not in the right place. Yes, I know it’s not healthy but in Salento oil is an elixir and used without measuring.
– The meatballs have to be soft but compact and containing Gavoi cheese which is an aged pecorino (goat cheese) that has a super strong taste. It also must contain the famous ricotta forte.
What’s the best orecchiette with sauce and meatballs? The one my grandmother makes, obviously. No one can match her mastery. Jokes aside (well a little :)), a trattoria that accepts the challenge of keeping the “familiar” flavours intact is undoubtedly “Il Ragno” which is located in Sannicola in the piazza della repubblica. (Phone number: 0833 231561)
This dish consists of a second course with meat of a unique taste. They look like small rolls of about 12cm with the insides of a suckling lamb within (liver, lungs, and heart) wrapped up in the intestine and flavoured with lemon juice, parsley, oil, pepper, and salt.
Tradition dictates that they are cooked on the grill, but it can also be found baked or pan-fried with a nice fried onion (In this second variant, they are slightly more difficult to digest, but twice as good). A celebration linked to this type of dish is San Martino (on November 11th), that day is when the farmers taste the new wine made from the September grape harvest.
The wine is accompanied with nice grilled meat in which the star is truly the Trucinieddru.
Octopus alla pignata “Prupu alla Pignata”
This is also a second course of fish. It represents one of the oldest recipes of the Salento folk tradition.
It consists of cooking an octopus inside the very thick clay pignata (which is almost like an old pottery vase) that can withstand very high temperatures directly on the match.
The octopus once cut up into small pieces is cooked with tomato sauce or fresh tomatoes and then with carrots, onions, and celery.
Once ready, the dish will be served with croutons from homemade bread that’s roasted or sautéed in a pan with oil and a clove of garlic.
Panzerotti with mint
They can be enjoyed as an appetizer or as a side dish. They are potato croquettes that have mint flavour.
What’s the touch that differentiates a simple potato croquette and the Salentine panzerotto?
The use of pecorino cheese and ricotta “schianta” (strong) inside the dough. In other words, if the taste is simple, almost neutral, then it’s not a true Salentine panzerotto. It has a strong aroma deriving just from the use of pecorino cheese (which by now has been replaced by many with Parmesan)
Pitta di patate
It looks like a single dish, particularly a kind of focaccia because it’s divided into two layers of mashed potatoes seasoned with eggs, pecorino cheese that has been well-seasoned, salt, pepper, and stuffed with a very well made sauce consisting of capers, lots of onions, and olives. Some also include tuna in the middle.