After exploring some of the typical food products of Puglia in Southern Italy, we head even further south into the region at the furthermost tip of the heel of Italy, giving voice to the delights of the Salento region.
Whilst a relatively rustic cuisine defines the area, there are still plenty of treats to be found, including characteristic fruit and vegetables, as well as lots of pastries, like the famous Pasticciotti.
When it comes to the typical food products of Salento that you shouldn't miss out on if you were to go there, here are our favourites, from the regions of Lecce to Taranto, through to Brindisi:
1. PIZZI LECCESI (PUCCE SALENTINE)
Photo: © Wikipedia
These tasty rustic sandwiches often come stuffed with tomatoes, blacks olives, onions and chilli. A great street food for a mid-morning snack or equally good enjoyed as an appetiser. Pucce are also simple to make at home if you fail to reach Salento to stock up.
2. SAGNE 'NCANNULATE
Photo: ©cuochella blogspot.com
Sagne are a typical fresh homemade pasta from Salento, formed in a distinctive twisted shape and made from flour, durum wheat, water and salt. The fresh homemade pasta is usually served topped with sauce and cheese: simple but outstandingly delicious.
3. RICOTTA MARZOTICA (COTTAGE CHEESE)
This ricotta, typical of Salento, is made from sheep, goat and cow's mil whey and is moulded in a cone–shape that varies in height from 8 to 16cm. It is produced in the spring (from February to May), with a maturing that varies from 10 to 20 days.
4. PASTICCIOTTI LECCESI
The tourists in Northern Italy love them, and not only there: the sweet Salento pasticciotti leccesi par excellence is made from short pastry with a custard filling. The history of pasticciotto seems to date back to the 18th century, although today there are many variations, including those with cherry or jam. Vegetarians should note that the traditional recipe contains lard.
The crunchy almonds typical of Salento have both Arabic and Sicilian origins. Cupeta are prepared in the moment by skilled professionals, under the watchful eyes of hungry customers; once toasted the almonds along with sugar are poured onto marble to harden. The original recipe calls for almonds, sugar, lemon and vanilla.
6. EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL TERRE D' OTRANTO (PDO)
Olive oil is produced in all of Salento and its provinces, with Ogliarola Leccese or Salentino olives forming at least 60%. It's distinguished by a fruity flavour and aroma, with a slight hint of spiciness.
7. CARCIOFO BRINDISINO IGP (ARTICHOKE BRINDISI IGP)
Photo: © www.biodiversitapuglia.it
The Artichoke Brindisi PGI is produced between Brindisi, Carovigno, Cellino San Marco, San Donaci, San Vito dei Normanni and surrounding municipalities. It's usually picked by hand between June and July. Machine harvesting is avoided due to the possible damage that can be inflicted on the vegetable.
8. POMODORO FIASCHETTO DI TORRE GUACETO
A gastronomic gem from Brindisi, the tomato is produced in the nature reserve of Torre Guaceto, which has several protected ecosystems. The Fiaschetto Tomato was on the verge of extinction until it became a Slow Food Presidium food. The sweet and juicy tomatoes were once the basic ingredient of the passata made by local families.