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Discover with us
green Puglia at the table
with veg-friendly recipes!

icon fresh italian cheese mozzarella burrata and tomatoes
sketch fresh handmade mozzarella and burrata


We all know that Italy has one of the best cuisines in the world. So what makes Pugliese food so special? Pugliese cuisine is strongly rooted in the centuries-old farming traditions which are still used to this day, along with the vast array of fresh ingredients which are in abundance throughout the region. The amazing food and drink are one of the most compelling reasons for making a trip to Puglia simply for their great taste, but along with all styles of Mediterranean diet, the Pugliese diet is also fantastic for both your health and the planet. On this page we want to share vegetarian and vegan recipes that are part of the Pugliese tradition and typical Pugliese dishes which have been given a veggie twist. With its long heritage of fruit and vegetable agriculture, Puglia is well-suited to a sustainable and positive diet based on vegetables!

puglia bread
puglia olives
tomatoes from puglia region
chair plenty of fruits and vegetables in a narrow street in puglia


Eating a healthy, vegetarian or vegan diet has long been thought of as something that only well-off people can do, but when it comes to the Pugliese diet, the complete opposite is true. Often referred to as cucina povera - ‘cuisine of the poor’ - or peasant food, the region’s diet developed as a result of extreme poverty throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. However, the name does not refer to the quality or taste of the cuisine; as we have already mentioned, Pugliese dishes are some of the tastiest you will find in the whole of Italy. The term ‘cuisine of the poor’ more accurately pertains to the simplicity of the dishes, emphasising the fact that the local people use what they have to hand and what is grown in their immediate environment rather than buy luxury ingredients and travel far and wide for various products. Seasonal vegetables, legumes and citrus fruits. Wheat, cereals and dried fruit. Puglia is a real paradise for vegetarian food. Just a short walk in one of the many street markets that take place weekly in all corners of the region is enough to discover the huge amount of fresh produce that is produced in this lush land.


orecchiette with broccoli rabe

This dish is certainly one of the symbolic dishes of Pugliese cuisine. Orecchiette is the fresh pasta most loved by the Pugliese, and turnip tops the most popular fresh vegetable in all of the region during winter. We recommended using fresh, home-made orecchiette using re-milled grando duro semolina.


First, take the fresh, seasonal broccoli rabe (rapini) and wash them. When washing, make sure that only the tenderest parts of the vegetables are kept – the inner leaves and especially the buds – by removing the larger, outer leaves. Rinse well, let them drain a little and dry well. In the meantime, boil some water in a pot and add salt as soon as it reaches boiling point. Put the vegetables in the pot and let them boil for about five minutes. While they are boiling, sauté the breadcrumbs in olive oil and set aside. Pour more olive oil into another pan and brown garlic and chilli pepper. Add the orecchiette to the boiled turnip tops to cook. Leave the orecchiette and broccoli rabe to settle and then sauté them in the pan with the fried garlic and chilli pepper. When everything is cooked, sprinkle with breadcrumbs and serve.


It is possible to create different seasonal flavours by replacing broccoli rabe with fresh seasonal broccoli, fresh tomato sauce with a sprinkling of fresh ricotta cheese and basil.



For 4 persons:

Dried peeled broad beans - 350 g

Fresh wild chicory - 400 g

Extra virgin olive oil

Sale fino

Bay leaves and chilli

mashed broad beans with chicory

Broad beans and chicory, also known as "fav e fogghie" in some parts of Puglia, is one of the most famous dishes of the region. An icon of Pugliese poor cuisine.


First, rinse the beans thoroughly and separate them from any impurities or foreign bodies. After washing and rinsing them thoroughly, they should be soaked for about 12 hours. Therefore, if you intend to cook the dish at lunchtime, it is best to soak the beans the night before. The next day, rinse the beans well under running water and put them to simmer in a pot full of water and some bay leaves. The process of cooking the broad beans in a closed pot with lid takes about 2 hours.

During cooking, keep an eye on the pot at regular intervals and add small amounts of water if needed. Stir the broad beans regularly during cooking. You will notice that the beans release a white foam during cooking; scoop this away regularly. In the end, you will get a puree of broad beans. Clean and rinse the wild chicory thoroughly, making sure you remove the harder and less tender parts.

After cleaning and rinsing, blanch the chicory in pre-salted, boiling water for 5-7 minutes. Remove the blanched chicory, leave to drain for a while and place it on one side of the plate. On the other side of the plate, pour some bean puree as soon as it has reached the right consistency. Season with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and some hot chilli pepper.


If you want, you can add a potato or fennel into the bean puree. Fennel, as well as bay leaves, help to make the dish more digestible. The potato will give more texture to the bean puree.


Rather than forget about the ways of the past, today the Pugliese have embraced their culinary heritage and it is possible to find dishes which have been made and eaten by local people for generations. Some of the most popular dishes that Puglia is most famous for include: focaccia, a flat bread baked with tomatoes and olives, although you may find different variations around the region; panzerotti, a sort of fried version of a calzone stuffed with tomato and mozzarella; orecchiette con le cima di rapa, a classic Pugliese pasta dish with broccoli rabe (rapini); and fave e cicorie, pureed broad beans and wild chicory, a classic Pugliese dish. However, it is not just main dishes which are considered to be classics in the region; on a visit here, you also get the chance to try some delicious sweet dishes such as pasticciotto and cartellate. While many parts of Italy have begun to embrace the food of other cultures and have also put many inventive twists on their own regional delicacies, Pugliese cuisine has pretty much stayed the same, so you could say that a culinary trip to Puglia is just as much about history as it is about the food.

As well as making food items and dishes for eating on the day, the Pugliese are incredibly inventive when it comes to using up any leftovers. A great example of this is how they use up stale bread. Rather than throwing it away like we would in other countries, the Pugliese either soften it in water and then add other ingredients such as olives and tomatoes or use it to make dry breadcrumbs for use in other dishes. Not only is this great from an economic viewpoint, but reducing food waste is also useful in terms of protecting the environment.


ciceri e tria pasta with chickpeas


Re-ground durum wheat semolina(300 g)

Olive oil (as needed) and seed oil (250 ml)

Dried chickpeas (200 g)

1 white onion

Bay leaves, salt and pepper

Chilli pepper and garlic (2 cloves)

Ciceri (chickpeas) and tria (fried pasta) is one of the most famous dishes of the Salento culinary tradition.


The amounts are thought for 4 persons. First, the chickpeas should be rinsed and soaked for at least 8 hours before cooking. After soaking, cook the chickpeas over a low heat for about 2 hours with the bay leaves, which make the chickpeas more digestible.

For the preparation of the dough, mix re-milled semolina with salt, water and oil then leave to rest for about an hour. When the dough has rested, roll it out with a rolling pin and make small tagliatelle, around 10cm each. Let the small twisted pasta tagliatelle dry for about an hour. Once dry, take about a third of the pasta and leave it to brown slightly in a pot of seed oil.

Prepare a sauté of garlic, onion and chilli pepper. Take the previously drained chickpeas and add them to the sauté, pouring in small amounts of hot water at regular intervals.

In the meantime, cook the remaining fresh pasta and once ready, add to the chickpeas. Serve with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and some pepper.


If you want, you can add some fresh tomatoes or some tomato sauce while preparing the sauté.



Soft wheat flour type 0 (250g) and type 00 (50g)

Re-ground durum wheat semolina flour (150g)

1 potato (250g)

yeast and olive oil (as needed)

Salt (25 g) and sugar (1 pinch)

Tomatoes and olives

focaccia bread bari


Amounts for 6-8 persons. Dissolve the yeast in hot water in a large bowl and add the flour, the previously boiled potato, some hot water, extra virgin olive oil, salt and sugar, then mix everything to get a consistent dough.

Please note: make sure you have crushed and crumbled the potatoes well before inserting them into the dough. The potato will allow the dough to become soft. During the kneading phase, make sure that the dough gets the right softness, consistency and elasticity. It is advisable to constantly add hot water in small doses so that the dough reaches an optimal consistency.

After finishing the dough, cover it well and let it rest for about 2 hours away from currents and sources of light and cold. This phase is important to get the best results for the focaccia.

Use a well-oiled baking pan to pour the dough into, making sure the dough reaches the corners of the pan so as to cover the entire surface. Place cherry tomatoes (previously cut into pieces) and olives with salt and oil on the surface of the focaccia itself. Heat the oven to a temperature of 220 degrees. Put the pan in the oven without using ventilation and cook for about 30-40 minutes at 200 degrees centigrade.


You can use oregano instead of olives. The most classic versions of focaccia are with tomatoes and olives or tomatoes and oregano.

You can indulge yourself with different and imaginative condiments such as: potatoes and oregano, garlic and olives, tomatoes and onion.


There are, as you probably know, many advantages to following a Mediterranean diet with an emphasis on fresh fruit, vegetables, legumes, grains and olive oil. It is these precise ingredients that make the Mediterranean diet so healthy as they contain a number of essential nutrients and food groups which the human body needs on a daily basis, such as fibre, healthy fats, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. This high intake of healthy foods helps to reduce the risk of certain illnesses and diseases, including type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, heart disease and strokes. In addition to this, it also helps to prolong life, keeps you agile as you get older, and reduces the risk of depression. If you are trying to lose weight, a Mediterranean diet is ideal for you as it can help you lose weight and it is a significant factor in the reduction of obesity.

But the advantages of a Mediterranean diet are not just health-based. The Pugliese diet is based completely on what people can make with the ingredients they can easily get from their surroundings rather than relying on processed and imported food. According to the EAT-Lancet Commission, unhealthy diets are responsible for a staggering one-third of all global greenhouse gas emissions, meaning that the unhealthier the diet you have, the bigger your carbon footprint is going to be.



Flour type "0" (1Kg) and milk (200g)

Sugar (200g)

Bicarbonate (2 teaspoons)

Olive oil (200g)

4 eggs

Grated peel of a lemon

1 sachet of baking powder

eastern pastries scarcelle pasquali


FOR THE SUGAR GLAZE: 400g of icing sugar; 100g of egg whites (3 medium eggs); 10g of lemon juice (about 2 tablespoons)

Pour the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and lemon peel into a dough container. Before proceeding, make a hole in the centre and add the eggs and oil. Start stirring with your hands until you get a smooth dough.

Roll out the dough with a rolling pin and make the desired shape. Bake in the oven at 160° for about 15 minutes. While they cool, prepare the icing: mix the icing sugar with the egg whites and lemon juice in the mixer; pour over the scarcelle before they solidify and spread the coloured pigtails over them, according to tradition. Let the sugar glaze dry and ...enjoy your meal!


It is possible to add unpeeled boiled eggs, as a decoration on the surface of the scarlets.



"0" type flour (700g) and durum wheat flour (300g)

Sugar (100g) and white wine (as much as you like)

Extra virgin olive oil (100g)

cloves and cinnamon (as much as you like)

Salt (half teaspoon)

1 sachet of baking powder

Christmas cartellate with vincotto in Apulia


Chop the cinnamon and cloves; heat the white wine. Mix the flour, sugar, yeast, salt, cloves and cinnamon; make a hole in the centre and add the oil and white wine. Start mixing with your hands until you get a homogeneous and elastic dough. Put the mixture into a bowl, cover with a cloth and leave to rest for about 3 hours.

Divide the dough into small loaves and roll them out into thin discs. Using a scalloped wheel pastry cutter, cut out strips about 4 cm wide and 20-30 cm long. Fold the strips in two along the entire length, matching the two longer sides. Crush the dough with the fingertip at a distance of 3 or 4 cm and roll each strip in a spiral to obtain some kind of rosettes. In a capacious frying pan, fry the cartellate in boiling oil until golden brown. Drain them and put them to drip on absorbent paper.

In a saucepan, boil the vincotto and transfer the cards a little at a time. Turn them gently so that they soak well. When they come back to the surface, drain them and place them on a large serving plate.


For those who don't like frying, here is an equally tasty version of the cards: place them on a baking tray covered with baking paper, brush them on the surface with a little oil and bake them in the oven already hot at 180° for 15/20 minutes until they start to brown.


Food production is also important when considering the impact on the environment. Large-scale food production uses up a lot of land as well as a huge amount of water, and because of this, it is well-known as the leading cause of many destructive practices such as deforestation, water pollution and loss of biodiversity. Research has shown that the Mediterranean diet actually uses 60% less water than other diets, 70% less land, 90% less energy and produces 70% fewer greenhouse gases. Larger food production companies are also far more likely to use pesticides and other chemicals on their produce, something else which can significantly damage the environment. However, the Mediterranean diet is famous for promoting its use of fresh, organic ingredients free from chemicals.

This is particularly true in Puglia. Many of the food products produced in the region are the result of small, traditional, family-run businesses who have handed down their culinary secrets through the generations. If you take a tour with us, you can have the chance to visit local producers such as cheesemakers, olive oil farms and vineyards where you can see all of these old practices at work. Only the best local ingredients are used and you will certainly not find any pesticides on any of them. In many cases, traditional equipment is used in the production of these products, meaning that the processes have very little impact on the environment. If you really want to fully immerse yourself in the world of Pugliese cooking and really find out how fresh, easy and eco-friendly local dishes are to make, there is also the chance for you to join a cooking class while you are on holiday here.

Another example of how the Mediterranean diet is great for the environment is its significant lack of plastics and packaging. As there is a strong focus on freshly cooked rather than convenience food, there is no need to use any kind of packaging, even if you are buying street food.

As you can see, following the Pugliese and Mediterranean styles of diet is not just good for your body and mind. By eating a diet rich in fruit, vegetables, legumes and grains – basically, all foods which can be easily taken from your surroundings – you are doing your bit to help save the planet by lowering your carbon footprint. So if you care just as much about the environment as you do about your health, consider making the switch to eating a Mediterranean diet. If you still need some convincing, join one of our tours and we will introduce you personally to the delights of Pugliese cuisine.

Discover our sustainable and veg-friendly tour of Puglia. Get to see the details of our roundtrip of the region: green, sustainable and positive!


Arte Wine Travel di Pietro Calabrese

Via Abate Angelo Tamborrino 28

72017 Ostuni (BR)

P.I. IT 02577710748

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