A TASTEFUL JOURNEY IN SALENTO
The cuisine of Salento reflects all the colors and nuances of its territory. In fact, the traditions of many of the most famous land and fish specialties were born using the products that locals could find in their lands. The protagonists of Salento’s gastronomy are the fruits of the earth, from turnip tops and tomatoes to wild vegetables such as chicory or asparagus growing wild, but also snails, horse meat, and blue fish. A few simple ingredients, a touch of olive oil, and in Salento, the dish is ready. The many Norman and Byzantine influences are clearly visible in the desserts, rich in almonds, honey, and cinnamon, ingredients that tie the culinary customs of the whole Mediterranean area together with spices such as sage, rosemary, thyme, marjoram, mint, and oregano. Salento’s cooking also uses many alternative flours compared to wheat, which in the past was really expensive.
OUR FAVOURITE SALENTINE DISHES
Among the first courses of the Salento tradition, there are surely Orecchiette and Minchiareddhi – two fresh homemade kinds of pasta that can be tasted in some variants with vegetables, meat, or fish. Our favourite recipe provides a simple tomato sauce flavored with grated ricotta cheese on top.
The second course that we love the most from Salento cuisine is Polpo (Octopus) alla Pignata. In the slow cooking method “in pignata” the ingredients are placed inside a big earthenware pan which is put on the fire. This way, the octopus becomes so soft that it literally melts in your mouth. Cooked with potatoes that capture its juices and with tomato sauce, this dish is rich in aromas which, thanks to its patient cooking, gives a unique taste.
Pasticciotto is a short pastry sweet, usually filled with cream. Some prefer them in their most classic version. Others, like us, love to experiment with their variations, both in the internal condiment using ingredients such as chocolate and orange, ricotta cheese and berries, and countless other possibilities – and in the external dough, choosing a multi-grain or chocolate shortcrust pastry. Next to it, we recommend an excellent Caffè Leccese, a coffee sweetened with almond milk, perfect for hot summer days.
A CULINARY TOUR OF THE FOLKLORIC FESTIVALS IN SALENTO
The celebrations in Salento are continuous all year round and every festival is a precious opportunity to taste unique dishes of the gastronomic tradition of the area, accompanied by excellent wine and lots of good traditional music. Whether it’s winter or summer, spring or fall, there will always be a folkloric festival to go to and we want to share with you our favorite ones.
- Festa di San Vincenzo in Miggiano, Lecce – January
Patronal feast in honor of Saint Vincenzo
After watching the procession, food stands, lots of live music and fireworks will be waiting for you.
- Sagra di San Giuseppe in San Cassiano, Lecce – March
Patronal feast in honor of Saint Giuseppe
In Italy, Father’s Day is on 19th March to coincide with the Festa di San Giuseppe, known for religiousness, tradition, and folklore in Salento. Apart from giving a taste of the typical dishes of the “Taula” of San Giuseppe, this festival gives visitors a return to ancient rites, around the warmth of a huge bonfire lit in an act of purification and hope for a bountiful year.
- Sagra del Pesce “a Sarsa” in Castro – April
Seafood folk festival
The typical recipe of the town of Castro Marina is the Pesce a Sarsa, which is fried and then marinated with stale breadcrumbs, vinegar, garlic, and mint. The tasty preparation of the fish will cheer the celebrations in honor of Maria SS. Annunziata in Castro Marina.
- Festa della Pummeta in Campi Salentina, Lecce – May
The kite folk festival
You will watch kite competitions during the day and discover the delights offered by many food and wine stands in the evening.
- Festa di San Pietro e Paolo in Galatina – June
Patronal feast in honor of Saint Pietro and Saint Paolo
In this important event you can see and participate at the procession of the saints. In the evening the city is dressed up with lights and many stands where you can taste typical dishes and listen to local music. On the morning of the recurrence, it is possible to attend the “Ballo delle Tarantate”, a folkloric dance.
- Sagra dell’Insalata Grika e della Salsiccia in Martignano, Lecce – July
Salentian Greece food festival
During this event you can taste Grike and Salentine specialties.
- Mercatino del Gusto in Maglie, Lecce – August
Salento food Festival
You will be able to dive into the typical products and traditional local recipes, moving from one stand to another in search of the finest Apulian food and participating in taste workshops, watching entertaining street performances, and listening to concerts.
- Sagra della Polpetta in Alliste, Lecce – August
Meatball folk festival
An unmissable occasion to taste pork, horse, and eggplant meatballs, also enriched by precious local ingredients such as pecorino cheese.
- Festa della Municeddha in Cannole, Lecce – August
Snail folk festival
Here you can taste the snails, the real protagonists of the event, and many other meat dishes in a festive atmosphere on the notes of Pizzica, the folkloric music of Salento.
- Festa di San Rocco in Torrepaduli, Lecce – August
Patronal feast in honor of Saint Rocco
Besides the usual procession and traditional dances, which culminate in the so-called “Danza delle Spade” (Dance of Swords), this event is an excellent occasion to taste the delicious local rose wine along with the typical dishes of this corner of Salento.