Apulia is a long region, spanning the length and breadth of Italy’s heel, and reaching on up the calf; from Foggia in the north to Gallipoli and Santa Maria di Leuca at the country’s southern tip. The food too stretches from fertile inland soils to the rich waters of this part of the Med. Here, we sample from the whole of the region; dried broad bean puree, cicoria and baked peppers from the earth, delicate white fleshed bream from the rocky coastline and Tette delle Monache from the nunneries that speckle the land.
For your meal you will need:
A suitably sized oven tray – big enough for a good sized fish
The detailed recipes for the dishes are below, but in essence:
- Preheat the oven to 200C (fan) or 220C (static)
- Allow all ingredients for the burrata to come to room temperature
- Pack the bream in salt and put it in the oven
- Eat the burrata
- Take out the bream, let it rest, then crack it open, and enjoy
- Let the peppers also come to room temperature, and eat as they are
- Eat the tits
Burrata, cicoria, dried broad bean puree & chilli
Fave e cicorie 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 burratina
- A pot of dried broad bean puree
- Some boiled cicoria, chopped
- A small pot of chilli oil
- Let all ingredients come to room temperature
- Spread the broad bean puree onto two plates – in a neat disk, or a messy splodge
- Season the cicoria with salt, and dress with the chilli oil
- Heap this on top of the broad bean puree, and tuck the burratine in next to it
Sea bream baked in salt
Fishmongers in Puglia are funny places. Packed full of Neptune’s bounty one day, the next they will be largely empty and barren. ‘The weather’ they will grumble when queried, as the hot sun continues to shine down through clear skies, ‘not good for fishing.’ I’ve never worked it out. Regardless, on even the emptiest days, there are always at least a few delights; cozze pelosi, perhaps – hairy mussels - sitting in their tank as they are slowly invaded by sluggish crabs from next door; and bream – always bream, and it is always good. This is how I eat it.
Your pack serves 2 and contains:
- A cleaned and scaled gilt head bream, large enough to feed 2
- A container of salt for the crust (equal parts coarse salt, fine salt, and a splash of water to hold it together)
- A small tub of olive oil
- A whole Amalfi lemon
- Take an oven tray and place around a third of the salt mix on it, patting it down to form a compact oval large enough for the fish to sit on
- Take the container of oil and pour some on one side of the fish, then, using a brush (or your hand), spread the oil so that the whole side is coated. Flip the fish and repeat
- Place the bream on the base of salt, then pack the remaining salt on top so that the fish is encased in a kind of shell (do not worry if the head and tail fin are uncovered, you won’t be eating them)
- Place the fish in the oven for 14 minutes, then take out and leave to rest for another 5
- While the fish is resting, take your lemon and cut it into wedges for squeezing over
- Once the bream has rested, take either a blunt knife or a spoon and tap the salt crust in a few places so that it begins to crack open
- Using your hands, brush away all the salt, then carefully lift the fish onto a clean surface
- Run the handle of a spoon along the spine, from tail to head, to dislodge the bones, and then pull them out with your fingers (if they don’t come out with gentle pressure, let the fish rest on top of the remaining salt for another few minutes, then try again)
- Take a hold of the flap on the side facing upwards and gently pull it back to take off the skin. Repeat this on the other side
- Separate the two fillets from the spine, and squeeze the lemon over them
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. But what to do with yesterday’s bread, and today’s heat? Grind the bread to coarse crumbs, toss it with capers, oil and strips of the dark red and yellow peppers that fill the surrounding fields, then gently bake in the fading ovens. The bread crisps, the peppers soften and grow sweet, and you are left with a dish equally fit for kings & contadini.
Your pack makes a side for 2 and contains:
Baked red and yellow peppers, with capers & crumbs
Whole leaves of parsley
- Allow the peppers to come gently to room temperature or even a little above (sit them just close enough to the hearth to gain a little warmth)
- Place them on a plate, and scatter over the parsley
Tette delle monache
At Bocca di Lupo I have, for several years now, served a delightful & delicious Roman specialty – Le Palle del Nonno (Grandfather’s balls) – so it is no surprise that I pounced with indecent relish onto the cream filled ‘Nun’s tits’ of Apulia. These are heavenly cloud-like little sponge puffs, richly plumped with a delicate lemon scented pastry cream. First eat one, then the other. More tea, Vicar?
Your pack contents
- 4 little tits, stuffed with cream
- Eat; possibly erotically, certainly with abandon.
ALLERGENS: all packs are prepared in a mixed kitchen, we cannot guarantee the absence of ANY allergen. All packs of this dish contain dairy, gluten, alliums, eggs, celery, and nuts.