For the Immaculate Conception celebration on December 8th, I propose the recipe for ‘pittule.’ What are they? Ah! A delicacy typical of the Salento culinary tradition. Small balls of leavened dough, either empty or filled, fried in plenty of extra virgin olive oil. Bite-sized delights that can captivate taste buds with their sweet or savory flavor. Dear food enthusiasts, you should know that pittule have the same power as cherries; once on the plate, who can stop at just one? One pittula leads to another!
Pettole, or pittule in dialect, are a typical appetizer in Puglia but also in Calabria, Campania, and Basilicata. An ancient Salento proverb goes: ‘Te l’Immaculata la prima pittulata,’ which means ‘during the Immaculate Conception feast, you cook pettole for the first time.’
So, readers of our cooking column, have you put on your apron? Yes?! Let’s go! Roll up your sleeves and let’s get started.
Here’s the list of ingredients for pittule with a filling of black olives and capers:
- 500 grams of all-purpose flour
- 10 grams of brewer’s yeast
- 400 ml of water
- Pitted black olives
- Salt to taste
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Dissolve the brewer’s yeast in two tablespoons of lukewarm water.
- In a bowl, pour the flour, yeast, and 1 teaspoon of fine salt. Create a well in the center and pour 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, 400 ml of water, adjusting as needed (it might be sufficient with less). Stir the mixture until you obtain a soft dough.
- Add 4/5 tablespoons of olives, 3/4 tablespoons of capers, and mix everything. Cover the dough with a cloth and let it rise in a warm place for at least three hours.
- In a non-stick pot, preferably with high sides, heat the extra virgin olive oil. Make sure there’s plenty, and it should be at the ideal frying temperature.
- To give the pittule their round shape, my dear grandmothers used a spoon, and with nimble finger movements, they ‘dropped the pettole into the boiling oil.’ The leavened balls should fry until they have a nice golden color. As you take them out of the oil, place them on absorbent paper.
- As a type of appetizer, preparing pittule with a filling allows for a lot of culinary creativity and personal taste. My favorites are the empty ones!
Now, all that’s left is to wish you a good appetite and a happy Immaculate Conception celebration.