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Photo: La Cucina Italiana


Trianata is a savoury baked pasta dish, found only in Surbo, a town of around fifteen thousand inhabitants in the province of Lecce. However, not many people have heard of the dish; not even Italians, The dish’s exclusivity derives from the fact you cannot find trianata anywhere other than in Surbo; not even in the neighbouring towns.

It is a so-called ‘poor’ dish of peasant origin. Trianata is traditionally made with staple cupboard ingredients, in line with its true origin, but ingredients can be purchased especially to make it. It is not a food to eat alone and is best enjoyed with family or friends. It also makes for a fantastic gift for a neighbour.

There can be no better-fitting dish for Surbo, a town of bakers. In the past, it was rare for people to own their own ovens. In fact, people would rely on the local pizza oven. When it was set alight, the baker’s employee would knock on every door shouting for everybody to prepare the bread.

It’s for this reason trianata is prepared with the same dough as bread. That is, people only had time to prepare one dough. Any leftover dough or sagne ncannulate, a rolled pasta prepared for Sunday lunch, was then cooked in the baker’s oven.

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees. Take any leftover potatoes and onions. Slice the potatoes, chop the onions and soak them both in cold water until required. This can be for a minimum of twenty minutes but can be prepared up to twelve hours in advance. Soaking reduced any excess starch which will make the potatoes and onions far silkier.

Then prepare a mixture of semolina flour, water, yeast and salt. If you’ve ever prepared bread, this should be exactly the same preparation. Make a well in the centre of the dry mixture then add water and slowly knead until you have a sticky dough.

Now for the rustic mixture. Lift the potatoes and onions from the water and mix together with black olives, a bay leaf, rosemary, parsley and thyme. Arrange the mixture in a single layer on a taieddha (a traditional earthenware cooking dish) lightly greased with extra virgin olive oil and freshly chopped tomatoes. Make sure the tomatoes are well distributed.

Season the mixture, taste and then sprinkle with some grated pecorino. Then arrange a layer with the strands of pasta, making sure each piece of pasta sees a similar amount of liquid. Then repeat this method for a second and final time, seasoning and sprinkling again until satisfied with the taste.

Place in an oven at 180 degrees and cook for ten minutes or until ready. This pasta should look crispy but not burnt.

True trianata is made in Surbo, from Surbo-sourced ingredients. Therefore, as your version is likely to not be authentic, do not be afraid to add your own variations!

If you fancy trying the real thing but do not know any Surbinos, the most traditional trianata is made to order at the family-run bakery Panificio Voglia di Pane di Martina Marco. This Surbino establishment bakes the dish in the original wooden oven that would have been the norm back then.