acqua sale

A very poor Apulian dish, the Acqua Sale in Italian means “Water and Salt”.

It’s a summer dish, based on stale homemade bread baked in a wood-fired oven (so, a very good bread!), water, oil, tomatoes and salt. The Acqua Sale is made within one single bowl, because that’s how the poor farmers did, they ate it all together: it was the symbol of sharing.

Zia Rita never added onion, so that the children could eat the Acqua Sale during summer.

I can remember that, at that time, zia Rita used to tell me: “come on Grazia, let’s make the Acqua Sale!” I started to chop the stale bread, sometimes I added some hard frisa because I liked it to be crisp, I started adding the tomatoes, the bread, and she added some oil: “no, Grazia, it’s not enough!” and I added some bread “no, Grazia, it’s not enough!” and she added some more oil, bread, water. It was an endless Acqua Sale. One afternoon we had a lot of guests at the manor farm, and  all of them could enjoy some Acqua Sale.

I’ve never had to think about the recipe of the Acqua Sale, because it’s a recipe without any dose, so to speak: just because it was the typical meal of the poor farmers living in Puglia 50, 60, 70 years ago, where they never thought about weighing food. Very often food was not enough, so they didn’t need to use a scale.

If today I must give you a recipe, I’ll think that for a nice plate of Acqua Sale, rigorously made and served inside one single big central bowl, we can use:


  • 300 gr dry stale homemade bread which we’ll chop into big pieces 
  • 200 gr frise baked in a wood-fired oven which we’ll chop into 4 and put into the bowl
  • 40 gr extra virgin olive oil (Olio Supremo ou Olio Fruttato Intenso)
  • 120-150 gr red cherry tomatoes
  • 1 onion
  • salt and oregano to taste
  • cold water


How to make it

Coat the frise and the stale bread, with the oil and, then, chop the red cherry tomatoes always inside the same bowl, so that their pulp falls there.

Add some oregano, some salt and then, by using a bottle or a jug, sprinkle the bread with some cold water, so that it will be wet but not overmuch soaked.

And finally, only if you like it and there are no children sitting at the table, you can add some thinly sliced onion at the Acqua Sale.

It’s very important that you mix the oil, the salt and the oregano very well, but at the same time you have to take care that the frisa and the bread will be not overmuch drenched, because, as I just said, the consistency must be crisp.

Share your bowl and.. Buon appetito!

This post is also available in: FR