The tradition that takes shape: the fresh pasta typical of Salento

Flour of durum wheat semolina, water and salt. Egg? No, we put no egg.

The tradition of fresh pasta in Salento is all here, in a flour fountain where the housewives simply added a pinch of salt and poured warm water, before starting to knead vigorously the dough on the kneading trough. No kneading machines, just strength in your arms and a lot of patience.

And this is how it still resists in our homes, although it is now only a romantic date to be dusted off for Sunday lunch, maybe at grandma’s house.

There is no child in this land that does not know the wonderful emotion of feeling the dough take shape under the palm of their hand, the patience to put it with almost maniacal precision in trays sprinkled with flour. Because we all grew up soiling our hands with a tradition that for us has always had the taste of a moment of fun sharing, before recognizing it as a gastronomic heritage of our land.

Well, great, but now let us go back to the more technical side.

The basic ingredients – as well as the tools of the trade – are always the same, but there are different shapes and each of them is born with a precise combination. Chickpeas, as well as cabbages, require a well-defined form of fresh pasta – tria – so do not combine them with orecchiette. These latter have the exclusive of turnip tops, but alternatively, they are well matched in the combo “orecchiette and minchiareddhi” with fresh tomato sauce.

Well, let us discover all the types of fresh pasta from the gastronomic tradition of Salento.

Typical fresh pasta from Salento: sagne torte ‘ncannulate

Let’s start with the most popular form of fresh pasta made in Salento, the sagne ‘ncannulate. There is no respectable food festival or trattoria that does not propose sagne torte ‘ncannualte in their menu. A puff pastry rolled on itself that gives this pasta not only a characteristic appearance but also a texture different from the others. What you feel while enjoying this dish is…you have to try it!

Someone dares to combine them with fish condiments, but no! Here it is a must the fresh tomato sauce with the scent of basil, with a grater of “ricotta forte”.

Alternative? Tomato sauce and horse meat stew.

Typical fresh pasta from Salento: tria

This is pure poetry, especially when it is combined with chickpeas. A medium-long pasta type, like short and spiral shaped tagliatelle, which according to the original recipe should be served with a fried part and a boiled one seasoned with chickpeas. A tasty dish, a must in the winters of Salento and among the most popular ones in the restaurants.

Here is a secret: tria not only goes with chickpeas, but also with cabbages! And it is as tasty as creamy. If you want to try it, you have to rely on some good housewife.

Typical fresh pasta from Salento: minchiareddhi

Minchiareddhi (or even maccarruni) is another type of fresh pasta typical of Salento cuisine, perhaps among the best known for their tapered shape.

Well, when I mentioned the emotion of feeling the dough that takes shape under the palm of my hand, the precision in having to place it in the trays, I was referring to them. To the excitement we had when we were kids when we used to make maccarruni using a square iron wire.

Unlike other formats it is not uncommon to see this type of fresh pasta seasoned with a fish sauce even if the tradition prefers a simple tomato sauce, perhaps paired with orecchiette.

Typical fresh pasta from Salento: orecchiette

Rough surface, thin interior and thick border. Orecchiette are not an exclusive Salento, quite the opposite. It is a common type of fresh pasta throughout Puglia, but depending on the place it prefers different recipes. In Bari for example, the classic combination – and the most famous and appreciated – is with turnip tops, whereas in the southern Salento the perfect combo is with minchiareddhi, topped with a fresh tomato sauce.

I will not deny what I am saying: they are beautiful to see and seem very easy to do, but giving the right shape for many is an (almost) impossible enterprise.

Gastronomic excellences from Salento are many, but fresh homemade pasta remains one of the most appreciated specialties. And this is the reason that leads our guests to request a cooking class service with the housewives of Salento, to feel the emotion of feeling the fresh pasta that takes shape in their hands.

Contact us now if you want to live this experience during your holiday at the Coclee Suite Palace – Boutique Hotel.

6 October 2021