When you think of the Apulian gastronomic tradition, the thought immediately goes to orecchiette pasta, taralli, bombette (meat rolls), but we assure you that our traditional cuisine values vegetables very much. And what better time than spring to bring some good weather even on the tables with healthy and good ingredients.
This is the moment when the vegetable gardens overflow with vegetables and the meadows give us many tasty and healthy wild herbs.
To celebrate spring we offer three typical Apulian recipes which main ingredients are these seasonal vegetables.
Let’s start with a simple dish to prepare but extremely tasty: pugliese green beans.
#1 Pugliese Green Beans
After cleaning the green beans for about 15/20 minutes in salted water. Meanwhile, wash and mince the parsley and sieve the peeled tomatoes (or a vegetable mill). Put the oil, the fresh chilli and the crushed garlic in a pan, add the tomato puree and cook over a low heat for a few minutes, then add the beans, season with salt and cook for another 5 minutes. At this point turn off the heat, sprinkle everything with the chopped parsley and serve the Pugliese beans. One suggestion? Use the green beans as a sauce to dress the pasta and complete the dish with a sprinkle of grated cacioricotta cheese. A real treat!
Are you wondering what Cacioricotta cheese is? It is another precious Apulian specialty. A cheese which processing is placed halfway between the typical preparation of cheese and ricotta. The original one is produced with a mixture of goat’s and sheep’s milk, but today it is also found with cow’s milk. It is a cheese with a decidedly strong and tasty taste, it is normally used grated.
We continue with a classic of the Apulian cuisine: mashed broad beans (fava bean) with wild chicory, a rustic traditional dish but extremely tasty.
#2 Broad Beans and Sivons (wild Cicorielle)
This is the best time to wander in search of wild herbs, and here the most popular are the so-called sivoni, a dialectal term for wild chicory. If you love particularly bitter tastes, you could substitute chicory for siapini, wild mustard plant, in fact they are perfect with mashed beans. But let’s not waste any more time, here’s the recipe.
Soak the dried broad beans in cold water for at least 12 hours, then wash them. Put a sliced potato in a saucepan and cover the beans with plenty of water. The beans must be completely covered. Cook over low heat: as the beans release froth, remove them with a skimmer but never turn them. Cook for 2 hours, even for 2 and a half hours, in case you realize that the water is low, add a little. Leave to simmer and check from time to time.
When the broad beans have become dense, a puree, turn them vigorously with a wooden spoon and add the extra virgin olive oil.
Meanwhile, the wild chicory should be well cleaned and boiled in water. Then served together with the broad beans, seasoned only with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, better with an intense-flavoured olive oil from Puglia.
#3 Strascinate di grano arso pasta and wild asparagus
Certainly, a recipe based on wild asparagus, a spontaneous plant that is the symbol of this season, and cannot be missed. We offer it to you with strascinate pasta, a typical pasta, similar to orecchiette, but larger and more open. The name derives from the technique used to shape the pasta, which is dragged along a large wooden surface with the fingers. The particular manual technique allows the pasta to take a smooth side and irregular side that allows it to retain the sauce better.
Clean the asparagus, cut off the hard part of the stem. In a pan heat a couple of tablespoons of oil with the nuptial cut into round slices, add the asparagus. Cook until the asparagus becomes tender. Slice the tomatoes, oil a baking sheet and cook the tomatoes in the oven at 200 C°. Boil the strascinate di grano arso pasta, typical of the local peasant tradition. Add the strascinate pasta with asparagus and cherry tomatoes. Tip: use the Torre Guaceto fiaschetto tomatoes, a sweet and juicy tomato, a Slow Food presidium. If you feel like a real chef, you can also prepare strascinate pasta, just remember that to make the dough sufficiently elastic it is better to mix the grano arso flour with the durum wheat semolina.