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Sun dried Tomatoes

Tomato Passata sauce, part 1

Tomato Passata sauce, part 2

Discovering Salento


Orecchiette and Minchiareddhi pasta with ricotta forte

Four years have passed since my good friend Cecilia decided to leave Rome and move to Salento in the region of Puglia. Geographically speaking the heel of Italy. A land  I knew little about before . Puglia is known for its beautiful beaches,  Baroque architecture , the amazing Trulli houses and not least fantastic food !    

Lecce in Salento

Basilica di Santa Croce, Lecce


Passing the time of day,Nardo

 So now , whenever we can Nick and I  jump on the train and head south to visit Cecilia and her  partner  Cosimo.   Once there we enjoy  the beautiful scenery , but more importantly the good company and the great meals.    The rural life and the close relationship with the land totally affects the type of diet  on this place. 300 year old Olive trees  make for a great extra virgin olive oil. Lentil, beans, cheeses and vegetables. A simple and genuine way of cooking , full of passion and flavor.                                                                                    But the thing that struck  my attention most of all was the Ricotta Scante , also known as  Ricotta Forte . This famous Ricotta, traces its origins from a pastoral way of life that had no room for waste.  leftover ricotta  was kept in terracotta pots, where it would ferment for up to 24 months. Every day being kneaded by hand , until the final result is smooth textured cheese that can blow your socks off.    

Trulli house

Trulli house

The people of Salento have many different uses for this cheese , but the one I loved the most was with the Maritati pasta.    

 I Maritati (the married) are two types of pasta that are cook together and are considered a good omen for the newly married couples. The sauce for it ,is tomatoes  with  a spoon full of Ricotta Forte. The two pasta’s used are: Orecchiette , shaped like little ears and Minchiareddhi pasta, shaped like  …… ok you understand what I mean!    
 Honestly,   finding this delicious cheese is not  easy for those who do not live in Italy. In fact, it’s not easy for anyone to find unless you happen to be living in the Salento . So every time Cecilia returns to Rome, I ask her to bring me some Ricotta Forte…… but unfortunately it doesn’t happen very often.    

So luckily for me, Nick just came back from a quick trip to Lecce and of course managed to  stuff a few containers of ricotta forte in his bag , regardless of what his fellow airplane passengers thought of the smell.  so today we have this  famous pasta  combined with tomato passata and a spoonful of Ricotta Forte . BUONISSIMA!!!!!!!!!!!Grazie Nick!



Local fisherman,Otranto

Waiting for a Taxi, Otranto


However , all this story is  just a way for me to say , if you happen to have a holiday in Puglia, Salento … .. you should definitely not miss the opportunely of trying the Ricotta Forte . But, make sure your socks are  firmly tied on first!

Serve 4:  400 grams Orecchiette and Minchiareddhi pasta
1 clove garlic
250 grams of tomato passata
Evo oil
A spoonful of Ricotta Forte
A sprinkle of oregano
Here’s how:
In a saucepan, heat Evo oil with garlic. Add the tomatoes and cook for 30 minutes over a low heat. Stir in the ricotta until dissolved . Cook and drain pasta. Mix the pasta with sauce and serve with some oregano leaves.


1 comment to Discovering Salento

  • cecilia

    nice! next time we come to Orvieto, we’ll teach you how to home make orecchiette and minchiareddhi. and we’ll bring ricotta scante too, of course. gnam! ciao! ceci & cosimo

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