PUGLIA CAMPO - step by step instructions

The rich plains of Puglia have earnt it the moniker of ‘the bread basket of Italy.’ Here vast fields of durum wheat shiver in the hot wind, ready to be ground into coarse yellow semola & swathes of olive trees grow plump under the weight of fattened fruit, as far as the eye can see. Puglia is a flat land, a contrast to most of the rest of Italy, and though it is a poor region, the people are proud, characterful and generous. I have spent many wonderful nights sampling the region’s riches – from the robust grilled meats of Itria and Bari, to the delicate raw seafood of Taranto. The dishes below come from the soil; earthy and intensely flavoured, vegetables & fruits that have been bathed in sun from the moment of their sowing to their harvest. They taste of the land, and the land is good.

For your meal you will need:

  • An oven tray for the peppers
  • A second one for the focaccia

The detailed recipes for the dishes are here, but in essence:

  • Preheat your oven to 180C (fan), or 200C (static)
  • Allow all ingredients to come to room temperature
  • Plate and scoff the burrata
  • Bake both the peppers and the focaccia – these will both take 6-8 minutes, so pop them in the oven at the same time, and remove them also at the same time
  • Pop the cake onto plates, nestle the apricots alongside, and enjoy

Burrata, cicoria, dried broad bean puree & chilli

Fave e cicoria is a dish of dried broad beans cooked to a pulp, and blended with copious fine olive oil to form a sort of earthy yet ethereal hummus, served with boiled cicoria (wild & bitter green leaves) and dressed with garlic & chilli. It is emblematic of Puglia and found on all tables across the region - as is burrata, mozzarella’s rather less virtuous cousin. One day, I decided to put the two together, and found a whole even greater than the sum of its parts.

 

Your pack serves two and contains:

 

  • 2 burrata
  • A bag of dried broad bean puree
  • Some boiled cicoria, chopped
  • A small bottle of chilli oil (caution – the chilli oil is rather hot; use it judiciously)

 

  • Let all ingredients come to room temperature (a half hour or so before you wish to eat)
  • Snip the corner from the bag of puree, and squeeze it out onto two plates (like toothpaste)
  • Spread the broad bean puree out– in a nice disk, or a messy splodge
  • Season the cicoria with salt, and dress with some of the chilli oil (watch out – it’s spicy)
  • Heap this on top of the broad bean puree, and tuck the burrata in next to it

Baked peppers with datterini tomatoes & basil

 

In Altamurra, in the darkness long before the dawn, bakers stoke their ovens to a glowing red, preparing to accept the dense slow-prooved loaves of semolina bread that have brought the town renown. As the day moves gently on, the bread is baked, the fires die, and the ovens slowly cool. Perhaps the best use of this leftover heat is to bake peppers – hot and first and gradually more gently – stuffed with sweet little tomatoes, a little garlic, and very fine olive oil. Perfumed with fresh basil at the end, they are a superb celebration of vegetables in their sun soaked prime.

 

Your pack serves 2 and contains:

  • 2 beautiful dark red peppers, halved and stuffed with tomatoes, garlic & a little chilli, doused with oil and gently baked
  • A few leaves of basil

Directions

 

  • Preheat your oven to 180C (fan), or 200C (static)
  • Nestle the peppers next to one another in a tight fitting oven dish (or homemade tinfoil container)
  • Bake for 6-8 minutes, then remove from the oven and tear over the basil
  • Enjoy!

Focaccia Barese

 

Focaccia has as many versions as Italy has towns and regions. In Genova, they love it with onions – or stuffed with cheese. In Tuscany they dot it with rosemary. In Bari, capital city of Apulia, they poke sweet little tomatoes and salty black olives into the dough, and sprinkle the lot with a touch of dried oregano. It is superlative.

 

Your pack serves 2 as a side and contains:

  • A focaccia, studded with olives & datterini tomatoes, very lightly baked

Directions

 

  • Preheat your oven to 180C (fan), or 200C (static)
  • Pop the focaccia onto a tray and bake for 6-8 minutes, until crisp and golden

 

 

Ricotta, orange & honey cake with baked apricots

 

Few things are as delicious as ripe stone fruits – peaches, plums, apricots & nectarines. In Apulian orchards they grow in vast swathes alongside the olive trees, baked in the summer sun and dripping with sweet nectar. Here, we serve apricots alongside an ambrosial ricotta cake, perfumed with oranges & orange blossom honey, and they are outstanding.

 

Your pack serves 2 and contains:

  • 2 slices of ricotta, orange & honey cake
  • Some apricots, baked in their own juices, with a little honey

Directions

 

  • Allow both apricots and cake to come to room temperature
  • Sit the cake on a plate, and nestle the apricots alongside
  • Enjoy!

 

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