Apulian cuisine is linked to this land in all its expressions: from lamb to horsemeat, from fish to vegetables, basic ingredients of a country cuisine based on simple tastes.

The lion's share is played by pasta, strictly home-made by housewives with semolina: orecchiette, strascinate and cavatelli epitomise the handicraft of these women that marries to the most varied ingredients of Apulian gastronomic traditions. Traditional orecchiette or strascinate can be tasted with turnip tops, fresh tomato sauce served with cacioricotta, a seasoned goat's milk ricotta cheese grated on pasta, or meat sauce, in addition to shrimps, mussels, clams, and cuttlefish and fish soup.

By using simple ingredients, simple and savoury dishes are prepared such as the so-called "gnumeredde", lamb offal prepared as roulades and barbecued. Besides, traditional cuisine is very much based on pulses; commonly known as the meat of the poor, pulses are among the pillars of Apulian cuisine.

This gastronomic tradition is epitomised by fava bean purée served with wild chicory, a dish of simple taste that will certainly win the most demanding gourmets; apparently, even Pythagoras loved it. Last but not least, Apulian cuisine relies much on fish that must be traditionally eaten fresh and sometimes even alive in order to preserve its taste and nutrients.

Mutton and horse meat are also part of the tradition, in addition to roasted lamb with potatoes or the so-called hot horsemeat sauce that is typical of Salento. Also very common are lamb's heads coated with breadcrumbs and pecorino cheese and kebabs of sausages, chicken wings, gnumeredde and roulades stuffed with cheese, mozzarella and ham, typical of Valle d'Itria. Quite often butcher's shops arrange tables where customers may drink wine and eat kebabs, fresh bread and cheese.

Strictly related to the breeding, the production of dairy products represents in fact a strength of Apulian cuisine: cacioricotta, mozzarellas, burrate, caciocavalli and ricotta forte are guaranteed on Apulian tables and are mostly common in the Murgia area, the former homeland of transhumance.

Last but not least, the abundance of fish. Apulian coasts are the longest in Italy and thus fishermen have the opportunity to fish in the Adriatic and in the Ionian Sea alike. In Apulia it's a tradition to eat fish when it's fresh, sometimes even alive so as to preserve its taste and nutrients. Shrimps, dormice, cuttlefish and squids are excellent for frying, whereas mullets, dentex, sea basses, giltheads and grey mullets are very savoury when grilled or baked in foil. Don't forget seafood: mussels, clams, oysters and sea urchins are commonly eaten uncooked on the rocks, often accompanied only by lemon juice, or cooked in sauces.

Worth mentioning is the so-called "tiana di riso, patate e cozze" (rice, potato and mussels), the big number of Bari tradition, which consists in filling the tiana, a terracotta pan, with progressive layers of potatoes, mussels and rice; the dish is then seasoned with garlic, oil, Cayenne peppers and parsley and then baked.

Noteworthy is octopus fishing for it is the protagonist of a peculiar rite: once captured, the octopus is 'curled' on the rocks, that is it is repeatedly knocked against the rocks so as to make nervous fibres relax and eliminate all bitter fluids. This way it will become extremely tender and could be actually eaten uncooked. Hence, the strength of Apulian cuisine lies in the great variety of products and local dishes, which are the result of the melting pot of cultures and habits imported by foreign settlers over the centuries and adopted by local people.