One of my favorite things about Italy is the culture’s ingenious frugality. Have grape skins and stems left over from making wine? Distill it into grappa. Dug up some stones from building a cistern? Construct a trullo. And if you have scraps of dough left over from bread making, you bake them into la piscialetta.
This frugality was especially prevalent in Puglia, the region of Italy that looks like the heel of the boot. Until recently, Puglia was among the poorest regions of the country.
La piscialetta was originally a peasant food. Women would gather together the scraps of dough left over from bread making. Vegetables like sun dried tomatoes were added to the dough and baked into a tasty roll
Sun dried tomatoes are another way to prevent food waste. All those tomatoes ripen at the same time in the summer heat of Puglia. There’s no way to eat them all before they spoil, so they’re preserved for the lean months of winter. That means lots of sauce and sun dried tomatoes.
Zucchini and capers are also often added to la piscialetta, but there’s no strict recipe. Whatever’s handy and tasty goes in.
As Puglia became wealthier, the tradition of la piscialetta was largely forgotten. However, in recent years, nostalgia for the old recipes has made la piscialetta popular again. Most bakeries in Lecce, one of Puglia’s most beautiful towns, proudly make piscialetta. There’s even a festival held each summer dedicated to la piscialetta.
Just be sure you ask for a piscialetta and not a piscialetto, which is a kind dandelion that was used as a diruetic.