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Fill a large bowl with cold water and add ½ of the lemon juice.
Trim both ends of the cardoon stalks and all of the leaves. Using a paring knife, shave the edges off each stalk (they have little spikes on them), and peel off the large protruding ribs (as you would a celery stalk). Cut each stalk crosswise into 1-inch pieces and place immediately in the lemon-water bath.
Fill a large bowl with cold water and several ice cubes. Fill a large heavy-bottomed pot with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the remaining lemon juice and salt.
Drain the cardoon pieces and add them to the boiling water. Boil until just tender, but still a bit firm, about 15-20 minutes. Scoop them out with a slotted spoon and transfer to the ice water bath until cool. Drain on kitchen towels or paper towels.
Heat a large, heavy-bottomed soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and onion, stir well, and sauté until just golden, stirring occasionally, about 5-6 minutes.
Add the wine and garlic. Stir well and continue to sauté until the wine has reduced to a syrupy sauce and has almost all evaporated, about 2-3 minutes. Add the cardoons, potato, stock, and water. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Tie the parsley and thyme together in a bundle with kitchen string and add to the pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover the pot, and simmer for 40 minutes until the cardoons are very tender. Remove the herb bundle and discard.
Purée the soup with a stick blender or food processor until very smooth. Pour some of the soup in a medium sieve, 2/3 of the way up. Force the soup through the sieve with a silicone spatula. When there is nothing left but a thick paste, discard the paste and pour another batch of soup in the sieve. Repeat until the entire soup has been strained.
Return to the soup pot and gently reheat over medium heat. Add the crème fraîche and stir until well incorporated. Season with additional salt and pepper, if needed.
Ladle the soup into soup bowls, put a spoonful of black truffle carpaccio (or a spoonful of truffle oil) in the center of each bowl, garnish with the chives and serve immediately.
Black Truffle Potato Cream with Asiago and Chive
I love appetizers. Within every bite is the perfect distribution of ingredients. Plus, there’s just something about devouring an entire culinary creation in a single bite that sends a jolt of serotonin to my brain. This may be especially true when those tiny bites possess a select few ingredients—one of those ingredients is truffles!
Another one of my favorite things is soup and since I am so fond of combining all of my favorite things, I decided to create a truffle appetizer that provides the comfort of soup but can be gulped back like a shooter, sipped slowly, or served with a small spoon.
When using truffles, I never want to overpower their delicate flavor, so I worked from a starchy potato base and added just a small amount of Asiago cheese and sweet cream. This makes a very thick potato cream but if you prefer it to be a little thinner so it can be more easily shot back, feel free to add milk or half and half until you reach your desired consistency.
Creamy Potato Shooters with Black Truffle Carpaccio and Asiago
- 1 shallot, roughly chopped
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup whipping cream
- 1 teaspoon of oil from truffle carpaccio
- 5 truffle shavings pulled from the truffle carpaccio, plus more for topping
- 1 cup water
- 3 Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and chopped
- ½ tablespoon minced garlic
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Chives to garnish
- Mix the truffles, truffle oil, and cream together and let sit for at least 15-20 minutes.
- Sprinkle the shallots with salt and saute in olive oil until just soft and starting to brown.
- Add the potato, garlic, and the water and boil until the potatoes can be easily pierced with a fork.
- Use an immersion blender to purée the potatoes. Add the cream/truffle mixture and purée further, until the truffles appear as flecks throughout the mixture.
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Garnish liberally with chopped chives
My favorite way to serve this silky smooth concoction is as an appetizer. It can be sipped, or a small spoon may be provided. I pour it into a small vessel and top it with a thin sliver of truffle carpaccio. It is also fantastic as an accompaniment to beautifully prepared meat or seafood. It is rich, so a schmear alongside the main dish is plenty. This can also make a beautiful creamed soup, simply whisk in milk or broth to dilute the potato cream until you reach your desired consistency.
Black truffles are seasonal and can be difficult to find fresh. Plus, it doesn’t take long for their flavor and aroma to degrade once they are dug up. Not to worry, with black truffle carpaccio, these properties have been perfectly preserved in oil. White truffles carpaccio is a welcome substitute in this recipe. You can find a wonderful selection of truffle carpaccio here.
7 Tips, Tricks & Recipes for Cooking With Truffles
… Below are seven truffle tips, tricks, recipes and lies that were unveiled by Ken Frank, Executive Chef/Owner of Michelin Star La Toque restaurant at The Westin Verasa Napa. Chef Frank says he has eaten more truffles than anyone he knows. He bought his first fresh truffle in 1976 from legendary Sacramento food and wine merchant, Darrell Corti, and has been hooked ever since.
One – The best way to store a fresh truffle is to carefully wash it, pat it dry and store it in a paper-towel lined, sealed Tupperware container. “No matter what, don’t do something stupid like storing a truffle in raw rice. All it does is dry out the truffle,” said Chef Frank. To get the biggest bang for your truffle buck, you can put a couple of wrapped sticks of butter or raw eggs in the container. The aroma will easily permeate the shells and wrapper. Use both to make a decadent omelet, further enhanced with some truffle shavings.
Two – “There is absolutely zero flavor difference between wild or farm-raised truffles and if anyone says otherwise, they are full of [crap]! I’m excited about our local orchards and believe that they can produce truffles every bit as good as their European counterparts,” said Chef Frank. He also mentioned that farm-raised Australian truffles are now “spectacularly good” and he can’t wait until he can call up a neighboring farmer and say, “Could you please drop off a couple of fresh-picked truffles this morning?” It takes approximately five to seven years for a truffle orchard to start producing. Chef Frank’s neighbor, Robert Sinskey Vineyards, planted truffle-inoculated trees in 2010, so hopefully he won’t have much longer to wait.
Three – Commercial truffle products (truffle oil, honey, salt, etc.) are a fraud. Because of truffles very short shelf life, real truffle flavored oil is simply not a viable product. Commercially produced truffle oil is invariably artificially flavored, no matter how fancy the bottle or prestigious the purveyor, they are all chemically made utilizing a synthetic derivative, 2,4-dithiapentane.
Four – Truffles are best eaten ASAP since they lose half their flavor after the first week. If you want to store for later use, the best way is to fold shavings or minced peel scraps into butter, and then freeze for later use. Add truffle butter to hot angel-hair pasta with a little Parmesan, for a glam dish. Chef Frank stated that “Butter is really good with truffles. Too much butter is never enough.”
Five – A scrumptious way to show off your truffle is to get a nice creamy cheese (Chef Frank recommends Mt. Tam from Cowgirl Creamery) and carefully cut it into three layers. (He wraps fishing line around two wine bottle corks and holds the corks firmly to slice even layers. Shave fresh truffles over each layer, and then put back together. Be sure not to cover it completely or else the cheese layers won’t adhere. Wrap the cheese tightly in Saran wrap and let it infuse for 48 hours.
Six – When it comes to selecting a truffle it’s all about freshness and fragrance. You want one that feels firm and not too spongy, unless you plan on using it that day. This is one case that bigger is not necessarily better (think golf ball to lemon-sized), and you do want a truffle with smooth skin and not a lot of warts. I know how mean it seems to go on and on about an event that is already over so I just have two final tips for you.
Seven – For a romantic, gastronomic dinner, plan a relaxing stay at Westin Versa Napa where you can indulge in La Toque’s annual Truffle Menu with wine pairings.
RISING STARS / Making their mark: The Bay Area's five best new chefs
Young chefs who want to cook on the national stage can take two main routes - New York or San Francisco. Getting to the top of the restaurant ladder is tough and competitive, but chefs who succeed in either of these two cities will very likely succeed wherever they go.
Yet San Francisco and New York offer unique training experiences and each boasts a different philosophy of cooking. East Coast chefs generally look to Europe for inspiration, and their cooking is more driven by technique. It's all about shaping individual ingredients into a whole new dimension. In San Francisco, chefs celebrate the ingredients, enhancing rather than masking them.
It's ironic, then, that four out of our five Rising Star chefs hail from the East Coast - three worked in Boston and one in Connecticut. The other was raised in Taiwan. Their backgrounds are different - some came from families where food and cooking were important, others were spurred on by their parents' "lousy" cooking. Only one went to culinary school two earned bachelor's degrees in liberal arts. Still, they all have a common goal - to be the best cooks they can be. And in San Francisco, that means getting the best ingredients possible and letting them shine.
The Chronicle Food staff is always on the search for young talent, those chefs who are just beginning to make their mark. That's why each year for the last decade, we've chosen a cadre of young chefs - our Rising Stars - who we feel will rise above the pack and create a national stir.
This year we considered more than a dozen chefs from all over the Bay Area. In the end, however, our winners all come from San Francisco, mainly because that's where most of the restaurant activity has been focused. However, just in the last couple of months, things have been heating up in Sonoma, the East Bay and the Peninsula, so it may be different next year.
But no matter where they're from or which kitchens they're in now, if you like to eat out as much as we do you'll enjoy following the careers of these Rising Stars as they
begin to win national acclaim.
Style: Contemporary Regional European
Recipe: Petrale Sole Souffle with Caper Butter
Quote: "I try not to stretch things too far. You should start from the roots and take it one step above."
Adrian Hoffman, for the last seven months the chef at One Market Restaurant,
has been working in the business since he was 13 years old, busing dishes in a family-style Italian restaurant near Boston.
He found his way to the kitchen when one of the cooks didn't show, and Hoffman was tapped to sweat in front of the pizza oven. A baptism by fire, so to speak.
It wasn't necessarily love at first bite, either. The young cook was toying with being a lawyer when he graduated with a degree in philosophy from Brandeis University. The idea never took shape. Instead, when he was 21 years old he made his way to San Francisco, where he worked at Moose's with Lance Dean Velasquez, now chef/owner at JohnFrank. He hung around the city for a couple of years and then went to New York by way of the River Cafe and Le Cirque.
The wanderlust intensified and Hoffman ended up in London before heading back to Boston to work for two years with Todd English at Olives. When English nabbed a consulting job in Israel, Hoffman was picked to head up the kitchen, which specialized in a North African style of food. From there it was off to Provence and Tokyo for two more years of culinary discoveries.
That's a lot of zigzagging for such a young chef, but Hoffman is on a passionate quest. "I'm interested in the relationship of culture and cooking and how that develops the culture of the region," he explains.
He feels strongly that understanding a culture will make you a better cook. "If I'm working on a dish I try to figure out the roots of where that dish is from."
It sounds like an intellectual pursuit, for sure, but Hoffman also has the passion for the nitty-gritty, and his food has a restraint that is rare these days.
His biggest weapon for wowing diners, he says, is reviving classics that most Americans haven't heard of. An example on the current menu at One Market is a brochette of duck livers and oysters wrapped in bacon, which is a Tuscan wedding tradition.
Poached Atlantic skate wing with caper-raisin vinaigrette and shaved fennel is inspired by a Sicilian dish truffled pheasant breast with celery root and
artichoke cream is from southwestern France and his slow-braised beef shoulder, with green olives, fennel, marrow bones and a hint of salt pork, is a Provenal daube.
Since most of his creations are logical deviations from classics, he deflects praise by saying, "I don't feel comfortable taking credit for that."
Even though he has spent time in Asia, you'd never know it by tasting his food. He feels strongly that mixing styles of food doesn't work. "I think there is a lot more of a discipline that goes with it," he says.
"It's more learning how to do things, and then learning to perfect them as a craft."
If you ask him where he will be in five years, he can't say. Maybe he'll still be at One Market, or maybe he'll go with his girlfriend to Prague and open a restaurant. In the end, though, his thoughts always return to the Bay Area.
In San Francisco, he says, "People are more interested in food and local ingredients. It's more competitive, so it's more fun to cook."
One Market, 1 Market St. (at Steuart), San Francisco (415) 777-5577. Lunch weekdays dinner Monday-Saturday.
Style: California with an Asian twist
Recipe: Roasted Beet Carpaccio
Quote: "I like things clean, light and fresh."
Bridget Batson had a good career going for her in Boston, where she worked at Hamersley's Bistro and the Blue Room. But after she came to San Francisco for vacation she knew she would be back.
"San Francisco is kind of a consummate food city," she says.
She came to Hawthorne Lane four years ago and worked for Anne and David Gingrass. When Anne left late last year, Batson stepped into the top spot. In some ways her style has been shaped by Anne - she likes a fresh California/European approach with Asian accents. Some of Anne's items, such as the miso-glazed sea bass and the Chinese-style roast duck, have become so popular that they will always remain on the menu, but Batson is now beginning to add her own.
That translates to such dishes as marinated and fried calamari with a spicy lemongrass aioli or grilled tuna with miso-braised daikon, warm ponzu sauce and a radish sprout salad. "I try to make sure it's not all mixed up," she explains. "I try to keep it true to its roots."
Batson favors flavors that are well integrated, as shown in her combination of roasted beet carpaccio. The three kinds of beets are sliced thin and then paired with shavings of black truffles, white truffle oil and a truffle cheese.
It's an earthy dish that has a luxurious, refined edge.
She says cooking on the West Coast is a lot different from the East because here "the food is so good you don't have to do a lot to it."
She's always known she wanted to be a chef, so she started her training right out of high school.
Unlike many of her contemporaries, she's not sure she wants to venture out on her own. Ô'I don't have a desire to open my own restaurant." She doesn't like the business aspects of owning, and she'd rather concentrate on perfecting her craft.
"I'm still learning a lot. I'm not as refined as I'd like to be, so I'm still trying to achieve that."
Hawthorne Lane, 22 Hawthorne St. (off Howard
between Second and Third streets, San Francisco) (415) 777-9779. Lunch weekdays dinner nightly.
Recipe: Sauteed Rouget with Saffron Potatoes, Sofrito & Olives
Quote: "I'm better at putting a whole dish together where one ingredient is the focus."
Not too many chefs have their own restaurant by age 27, but then Luke Sung has never been one to take things slowly.
In the years he has lived in this country - he emigrated from Taiwan by way of Canada 13 years ago - he has worked with some of the top chefs in San Francisco and New York, married, had two children and opened Isa last
At Isa, named after his baby daughter, Isabelle, Sung crafts French-style tapas - small dishes, classically prepared - many featuring the flavors of Provence, which work so well with California ingredients.
Luscious ragout of sweetbreads and mushrooms silken leek and potato soup with roasted scallops and a whiff of truffle oil sauteed Atlantic cod with a baby
artichoke barigoule four roasted lamb rib chops playing off ratatouille - the way Sung has designed the menu, two people can make a full meal of five to seven dishes. The tapas style lets diners sample lots of flavors - and lets the staff serve each dish as soon as it's prepared. That fits Sung's no-wait personality, too.
"What a good idea if you can serve perfectly cooked meat or fish with a sauce you like, and send it out when the food tells you it's ready to go rather than holding it until another entree is ready," he says.
Sung's start in French-inspired cooking was serendipitous. Although his father cooked in restaurants when he came to the United States his uncle, Ping Sung, is chef/owner of Eliza's in San Francisco and Sung himself waited tables and cooked in Chinese restaurants while attending Mission High School, but he had no training in French cooking. That is, until he ambled into four- star La Folie and asked chef/owner Roland Passot if he could volunteer in the kitchen. "I knew that I liked to cook, and thought I had the qualities to be a good chef," he says. "But I needed to learn."
Passot gave him the chance. Sung stayed at La Folie for more than a year, doing everything from salads to pastry. After that, he worked with Albert Tordjman at the Flying Saucer, learning the grill and vegetables, then on to the Royal Hawaiian in Hawaii to cut fish. He took that skill to Masa's, and spent time in the kitchens at Daniel and Lespinasse in Manhattan, and Hawthorne Lane and the Ritz-Carlton back in San Francisco.
Then, he says, on a sunny day last April, he spotted a for-sale sign on a storefront on Steiner Street. "I loved the location and thought the timing was right to try my own place," he says.
After remodeling, he opened Isa in August. The narrow slip of a restaurant features sophisticated details like brushed stainless steel wainscoting, steel drop pendant lights and an ice-green glass service bar. The rear patio, covered and heated, is relaxed and comfortable - it feels like a continuous party.
Sung's wife, Kitty, runs the front of the house, so the restaurant is truly a family affair. But it's Sung's food, at once deeply flavored, sophisticated and straightforward, that puts Isa at the top.
"I don't try to poach steaks or steam a piece of beef," he says. "I try to do what is traditional with certain ingredients and cuts of meat." Still, he's restless to expand his horizons.
"One day," he says, "I'd like to have a good fusion restaurant. I'd like to serve Chinese food, but with raw tuna, squab, foie gras. Do it tapas style, or have customers create their own tasting menu."
But, he says, "I need so much time and traveling and studying to know what I can do."
Isa, 3324 Steiner St. (between Lombard and Chestnut), San Francisco (415) 567-9588. Dinner Tuesday-Sunday. .
Recipe: Veal Scaloppine With Cardoons, Capers & Sage
Quote: "It's great to be in San Francisco because food is so important."
Being an English literature major in college, Dennis Leary thought he might become a writer. But because he is something of a realist, he thought he'd cook to pay the bills.
As it turns out, he reads for a hobby and cooks for a living - but not simply to pay the bills. "The most satisfying thing to me is to bring people together, to have a conversation over food," he says.
As executive chef at Rubicon, a position he assumed last November, Leary brings lots of people together over food - and over wine. Rubicon is known for its extensive wine list and renowned sommelier, Larry Stone. Leary sees his role as making sure his food is wine-friendly and high quality.
He's beginning to put his stamp on the menu with dishes like a crusty veal scaloppine, slow-roasted pheasant, steelhead topped with rounds of crispy beignet, and a potato soup poured around a "salad" of spinach puree, house- smoked salmon and caviar.
Like many chefs, Leary started in the very back of the kitchen, washing dishes in a restaurant in a Boston suburb at age 14. But being in a restaurant,
even at that young age, seemed natural to him. His mother was an excellent cook who was devoted to French food. "I had weird food for a kid, like Brie sandwiches in my school lunch box and oxtails for dinner. But that provided me with a heritage," he says.
He moved up from dishwashing to being a short order cook to working for a French chef. After graduating Wheaton College with a Phi Beta Kappa in English literature, he worked at the legendary Parker House in Boston before taking a job at the Boulders Resort in Scottsdale when his mother moved to Arizona. What brought him to California was a move to a sister resort at Carmel Valley Ranch. Once he was here, he said, he knew he needed to cook in San Francisco.
Alain Rondelli knew it, too, and hired Leary for his restaurant on Clement Street. Leary cites Rondelli as a key influence on his cooking, as was his mother and Rubicon owner Drew Nieporent, who, Leary says, "impressed upon me the concept of food as an extension of one's personality, of one's generosity. Sounds corny, but it's true."
After Alain Rondelli closed in 1998, Leary came to Rubicon as a line cook. He's been in the kitchen of the
Financial District restaurant ever since, taking over as
executive chef when Scott Newman left last year.
Leary is continuing to base the menu in the Mediterranean - it's particularly wine-friendly, he points out - and cooking in an innovative manner "but with healthy respect for tradition."
His focus is on blending unusual ingredients with traditional techniques, giving each dish a unique twist. His current favorites: a smoky green wheat called frik from North Africa that he uses in pilaf green garlic white asparagus wild mushrooms pea leaves and Rangpur limes, which go into a crab soup laced with cardamom.
"I've been blessed with a high standard of quality ingredients," he says, as well as a self-reliant kitchen. "We smoke our own salmon, make our own mustard, sauerkraut, cure our own olives. That's the language in San Francisco - to be self-sufficient."
As for the future, Leary says he has no ambition to own his own restaurant. "It seems so risky and really so vain," he says. "I'd rather cook high-quality food, build a rapport with the community and help the people I work with. I want to build a high-quality team, and I think here we're on our way."
Rubicon, 558 Sacramento St. (near Montgomery), San Francisco (415) 434- 4100. Lunch weekdays, dinner Monday-Saturday.
Style: Mediterranean "with whimsy"
Recipe: Roasted Lamb Loin with Roasted Vegetables and White Truffle Essence.
Quote: "As a cook, I love the ability to create something, to accentuate the beauty of Mother Nature."
Thomas Ricci's mother was a terrible cook, and his father rarely joined them at the dinner table. It certainly wasn't an Ozzie and Harriet household, but that's part of what drove him to the kitchen.
"I've always yearned for that sense of family - the sense of community that comes with sitting down and eating together," says the 26-year-old chef. For him, cooking is an expression of giving.
As a child he loved to goof around in the kitchen with whipped cream and sugar sprinkles, and
before he was 10 years old, he became famous for his "Bagelonia," a sandwich made from an onion bagel, sweet mustard, tangy mustard, salami, pepperoni and provolone and Muenster cheeses.
He knew he wanted to move to San Francisco when, at 16, his sister took him to Cha Cha Cha, the lively Caribbean-inspired restaurant in the Haight. "It was so much fun and there was so much vibrancy in the city," he explains. "I really liked the thought process out here."
When he was 18, Ricci enrolled in the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., and had an internship at Aqua, one of only seven Bay Area four- star restaurants. After spending a few months in the kitchen, he reluctantly headed back to the East Coast to finish his degree.
But soon thereafter, he was back at Aqua with a full-time job. From there he went to Silks in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, and ran the kitchen in the small Elan Vital restaurant before ending up at Lapis, a 110-seat restaurant with sweeping views of the Bay.
Ricci is still in the learning phase of his career and is trying to perfect his style. He's now doing Mediterranean food, but he's not sure where that will lead. "I've always wondered what my style was. I like intense flavors, but whimsical food at the same time."
At Lapis that translates to grilled beef tenderloin with prosciutto-wrapped salsify, leafy spinach and braised onions. He also pairs a pan-seared foie gras with a whole confit mandarin orange, which is submerged in simple syrup and then roasted in the wood oven to give it smoky nuances. It's served on a square of toasted brioche with a kumquat gastric and a few drops of frothy orange blossom milk.
There have been a few rocky spots in his career path. When Lapis opened more than a year ago, he received a mixed review for his imaginative but inconsistent food. That review, however, led him to reevaluate what he was doing, pull back a little and refocus his attention.
"I was going to prove that I was a part of the city," he says. Still, he's not afraid to take chances. "If I get my ass kicked I can start over. I'm young. I can do that."
He hopes to travel in the next year or so, a pleasure that has eluded him because of the 60-plus hours a week spent in the kitchen. He's never left the United States, but he believes that cooking has broadened his horizons. "I've always wanted to travel, and in cooking you can travel around the world."
San Francisco was supposed to be the first stop of many, but now he doesn't think he'll ever leave. A couple of months ago he was made a partner in the business and he hopes to open another restaurant in a different city, while maintaining his base here. "This is my heart right here."
He loves every aspect of cooking, from the planning and creating, to sweating on the line. For him cooking is everything. "I love cooking because there's so much emotion involved."
Lapis, Pier 33, The Embarcadero (at Bay Street) (415) 982-0203. Lunch weekdays dinner Monday-Saturday.
63 MOST POPULAR TRADITIONAL FOODS IN ITALY
Selection of heavenly delicious food in Italy you should not miss out on your Italian vacation.
GET READY FOR YOUR TRIP TO ITALY AND JOIN SOME AMAZING ONLINE ITALIAN CULINARY EXPERIENCES:
63 most famous traditional Italian foods
1. RAGU ALLA BOLOGNESE
Ragu Alla Bolognese, or Bolognese sauce, is considered to be the national dish of Italy since it is used widely in Italian cuisine with many traditional Italian dishes and some of the best Italian dishes (spaghetti, tagliatelle, pappardelle, fettuccine…) across Italy. Authentic Bolognese sauce is made from tomatoes, minced beef, garlic, wine, and herbs. Although Bolognese sauce originates from the city of Bologna, you can enjoy it throughout Italy.
Historic Bologna is a beautiful city with stunning Piazza Maggiore, amazing medieval and Renaissance architecture, lovely cafes, and world-class restaurants. Besides that, Bologna is one of the top foodie destinations in Italy. So, don’t forget to add one of these awesome food tours in Bologna to your bucket list!
Italian pizza is one of the most popular food in the world. This traditional Italian food is made of flattened round dough topped with cheese, and tomatoes, and additionally garnished with basil, olives, and oregano. Depending on the toppings, among the most famous types of traditional Italian pizza are Margherita all Napoletana (Naples style pizza with tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and basil), Pizza Marinara (with tomatoes, garlic, and oregano), Pizza Quattro Stagioni (‘four seasons’ pizza with four sections of four different toppings), Pizza Quattro Formaggi (pizza with four different cheeses), and Pizza Siciliana (Sicilian style pizza with tomatoes, cheese, onions, and anchovies). There’s no question, pizza is one of the top 5 Italian foods.
Focaccia is a traditional Italian flatbread similar to pizza. The most popular focaccia is Focaccia al Rosmarin (Foccacia garnished with rosemary). Focaccia is commonly served as a side bread with typical Italian dishes, as an appetizer, snack and as sandwich bread. There are two types of focaccia: savory and sweet. Savory focaccia (with rosemary, garlic, basil or even prosciutto) and sweet focaccia (with honey, raisins, sugar and similar sweet ingredient ). Focaccia is also typical Italian fast food.
Talking about Italian staple foods, iconic Italian pasta is most likely No 1 staple food in Italy.
Pasta is one of the top common Italian foods. And, the most popular Italian pasta are spaghetti.
This long and thin pasta is traditionally prepared with only garlic and olive oil (Spagetthi Aglio Olio), with tomato sauce and basil (Spaghetti al Pomodoro e Basilico), with minced meat sauce (Spaghetti Bolognese), with cheese and pepper (Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe), with clams (Spaghetti Alle Vongole) or with bacon (Spaghetti Carbonara) and usually topped with grated hard Italian cheese like world-famous Parmigiano Reggiano or equally popular Grana Padano cheese. Yet preparation of spaghetti differs a lot from one Italian region to another region. Thus, if you want to try classic Italian dishes, you should go for some clasic spaghetti dishes. If you are traveling to Rome, you should try Spaghetti Carbonara, the traditional spaghetti dish from Rome.
Lasagne is another famous Italian dish that has achieved worldwide recognition.
Classic Italian lasagne are made of layers of flat and wide pasta with a sauce of meat, vegetables, and cheese. Lasagne originates from Naples, but today you can eat lasagne all over Italy. Lasage are one of those Italian traditional food all gourmands look forward on their trip to Italy.
Authentic Italian pizza, classic Italian spaghetti, traditional Italian lasagne … sounds delicious?! Italy is one of the best countries for food travel! When in Italy, check out some of these amazing Italian food tours in Italy!
Gnocchi pasta is one of the most popular traditional foods in Italy.
Gnocchi refer to small and thick dumplings. But the Italian dumplings are traditionally homemade from potatoes and cheese. But depending on the Italian region, they can be made from semolina or wheat flour, or breadcrumbs instead of potatoes. Gnocchi pasta are prepared by boiling in salted water and served with a tasty sauce. If you are traveling to Tuscany and Lombardy you should try Malfatti Gnocchi with ricotta cheese and spinach. But if you are going to Naples and Campagnia region, you should taste Strangulaprievete Gnocchi (priest stranglers) with a fresh tomato sauce. Or when in Sardinia, opt for little Sardinian Malloreddus Gnocchi alla Campidanese with sausage sauce.
Rice is a staple food of Italy, of course. And, risotto is one of the most famous traditional Italian dishes.
Even more, risotto is one of the top favorite Italian dishes ever. Authentic risotto originates from the Lombardy region. But over time it has become one of the most popular Italian dishes ever. This classic Italian rice dish is prepared with various meat, fish, or vegetable broths with onion, olive oil or butter or even lard, white wine, and Parmesan cheese. All over Italy, you can indulge in various risotto dishes made traditionally of Arborio rice or Carnaroli rice like chicken and pea risotto, mushroom risotto, seafood risotto, shrimp risotto, beef mince risotto … But if you are visiting the city of Milan in Lombardy, don’t miss an opportunity to taste authentic saffron-flavored Risotto alla Milanese with beef stock, lard, and cheese. Although my all-time favorite risotto is black risotto with cuttlefish Risotto al nero di seppia originating from the Veneto region! Just to remind you, in case you are traveling to Croatia or Montenegro and you want to try black risotto, ask for ‘crni rižoto‘. And when in Spain, keep in mind that ‘el arroz negro‘ is popular Spanish food too.
Traditional Italian ravioli are square-shaped pasta with a filling. Ravioli are eaten throughout Italy. But nevertheless, ravioli filling varies from one Italian region to another. In Rome and Lazio region the filling is made with spinach, ricotta cheese, pepper, and nutmeg, while in Sardinia for the filling is used the mix of cheese and lemon rid.
If you are traveling to Italian regions of Emilia-Romagna and Marche you should opt for tagliatelle pasta as this traditional Italian pasta in the shape of long and flat ribbons originate from there. Tagliatelle pasta comes with many sauces, but if you happen to visit Bologna you should opt for traditional Bolognese tagliatelle with Bolognese sauce.
Pappardelle pasta are broad, flat, and thick pasta noodles coming from Tuscany. They are similar to tagliatelle from Bologna. Pappardelle pasta is typically eaten with chicken or beef sauce. Today pappardelle are common pasta in Roman cuisine and Tuscan cuisine.
When in Tuscany, make yourself a favor and check out some of these fantastic food tours in Tuscany! PS: You can thank me later!
Another type of pasta typical for Tuscan and Roman cuisine. Fettuccine pasta is ribbon-style pasta. Traditional fettuccine pasta comes with chicken or beef sauce, but popular versions of fettuccine come also with tomatoes (Fettuccine al Pomodoro), with creamy cheese (Fettuccine Alfredo) and with seafood.
Linguine is an oval-shaped ribbon-style pasta similar to fettuccine. Linguine pasta is wider than spaghetti and more narrow than fettuccine. This traditional Italian pasta originally comes from the city of Genoa and the region of Liguria. If you are taking a trip to Genoa, you should try authentic linguine pasta in Genova.
Traditional Italian pasta dishes are some of the most toothsome dishes in the world! What about taking a pasta cooking class in Italy? Check out these awesome pasta cooking classes in Italy!
Carpaccio is a traditional Italian appetizer made of finely sliced thin meat or fish. Original carpaccio is beef carpaccio and it comes from Venice. Thus, when in Venice, please put carpaccio on your menu.
Magnificient Venice, La Serenissima …. when in Venice, make it even more magical and try out this yummy cooking class in Venice!
14. BISTECCA ALLA FIORENTINA
Florentine-style steak is a famous veal meat stake originating from the city of Florence in Italy. Traditional Bistecca Alla Fiorentina is a T-bone veal steak prepared on glowing coal, light layers, and ashes in such a way to get the meat colored from the outside but juicy, soft, and red from the inside. If you are traveling to Tuscany and Florence, be sure not to miss tasting authentic Bisteca Alla Fiorentina. The Florentine steak is one of the best food in Tuscany and the best food in Italy to treat yourself with.
15. MELANZANE ALLA PARMIGIANA
Iconic Melanzane Alla Parmigiana is a traditional Italian dish made of deep-fried layers of eggplants with a sauce made of tomatoes and parmesan cheese and baked in an oven. Although Malanzane Alla Parmigiana is a typical vegetarian Italian dish, sometimes it is made with meat too. Parmigiana originates from Sicily and Campania region and it is one of the most famous Italian dishes. If you are traveling to Naples and Parma, keep in mind to try authentic Melanzane Alla Parmigiana.
Italian bottarga refers to salted and cured fish roe (tuna or grey mullet). Once “the poor man’s caviar”, in modern times bottarga is a delicacy often called the Gold of the Sea. Italian bottarga originates from Sardinia and Sicily. Smooth and silky in texture and salty in flavor, bottarga comes with many pasta dishes, salads, and vegetables. If you are heading to Sardinia, you should opt for Bottarga di Muggine (grey mullet bottarga). And if you are traveling to Sicily, you should try Bottarga di Tonno (tuna bottarga).
17. RICCI DI MARE
Let’s talk about Italian delicacies and exotic Italian food.
Ricci di mare are food delicacy in Italy and beyond. Sea urchins are eaten in Italy from Naples to Sicily. In Italy, sea urchins are consumed fresh and raw scooped out of the shells with squeezed lemon juice or with pasta (pasta ai ricci di mare). If you are after sampling seafood delicacy and some of the Italian best food on your trip to Italy, then sea urchins should be on your list of Italian foods to try.
Crispy bruschetta is a famous Italian appetizer referring to grilled bread traditionally scrubbed with garlic and garnished with olive oil and salt.
Sometimes it comes topped with cheese, tomatoes, prosciutto, various salami, and various vegetables. The most popular Italian bruschetta comes with tomatoes and fresh basil. Bruschetta originates from ancient Rome and today you can enjoy it through Italy. Bruschette are popular finger foods in Italy.
Crusty grissini are traditional Italian breadsticks. Thiese crispy, long and uneven breadsticks are typical Italian snacks and appetizers. They originate from the city of Turin.
Polenta is a traditional Italian dish made of boiled cornmeal, originating from central and northern Italy. This simple poor man meal is commonly served instead of potatoes, rice, or pasta. Polenta has crossed the borders of Italy, and it is enjoyed in neighboring countries like Switzerland, Slovenia, and Croatia. Today polenta is not only one of the top staple foods of Italy. But also Swiss, Slovenian, and Croatian staple food.
21. PASTA E FAGIOLI
Pasta with beans is a thick traditional Italian soup coming from Italian regions of Emilia-Romania and Campania. Ingredients of Pasta E Fagioli may vary from one region to another, but the main ingredients always remain tiny pasta, beans, olive oil, onion, garlic and tomato paste.
22. PASTA E CECCI
Pasta with chickpeas is similar soup to Pasta e Fagioli. Pasta e Cecci Alla Romana is a famous dish originating from Rome, but it is also a typical soup of regions of Sicily, Campania and Puglia. Roman pasta e cecci typically comes with anchovies.
23. MINESTRONE SOUP
Popular Minestrone soup is one of the most common foods in Italy. Minestrone is a thick vegetable soup made with pasta and rice and a tomato-based broth. Minestrone is typically made with seasonal hearty vegetables like beans, potatoes, tomatoes, celery, and carrots. Actually, there is no strict recipe for Minestrone soup since it’s commonly made with leftover vegetables and it might include meat, but not necessarily. Classic Italian Minestrone soup is a brothy and hearty soup similar to the above-mentioned Pasta e Fagioli and Pasta e Cecci Alla Romana.
Tortellini are popular button-shaped pasta filled with meat, cheese, nutmeg and egg, cooked in water, stir-fried with sage and butter and served with broth. This famous pasta originates from the Emilia Romagna region. If you are traveling to Modena or Bologna, you should try authentic tortellini.
Polpette are traditional Italian meatballs made of minced meat, eggs, parsley, and Parmigiano cheese. Italian polpette are typically made of veal or beef meat. But when they are made of fish, they are called crochette (crocchette al pesce). Most commonly they come as a snack or second course. In southern Italy, they come as a main course served in a tomato sauce though.
Arancini are traditional Italian stuffed and deep-fried rice balls originally coming from Sicily. Looking like orange, they are typically filled with minced meat, mozzarella cheese, béchamel sauce, ham, and peas. Today arancini are popular finger food in modern Italian cuisine.
27. RISI E BISI
‘Rice and peas’ is one of the most common traditional Italian dishes. On contrary to common belief outside of Italy, risi e bisi is a thick soup not a risotto. It originates from Venice where typically it is flavored with pancetta (pork belly salumi). So, if you are traveling to Venice and want to eat local Venice food, you should take ‘Risi e bisi’.
28. CARCIOFI ALLA GIUDEA
Carciofi alla Giudea or Jewish style fried artichokes have been a popular dish in Italy for centuries tracing back Jewish ghetto in Rome in 1555. Typically they are served as a first course (primo platto). When in Rome, you should try fried artichokes in the Jewish Quarter of Rome.
29. VITELLO TONATTO
Vitello Tonatto is a famous Italian dish served as a cold appetizer (antipasto). It originates from the Piedmont region. This classic Italian dish is made from meat (veal) and fish (tuna). In fact, ‘vietello tonatto’ literally means ‘veal tuna’. The dish is made of sliced veal covered with creamy tuna sauce seasoned with capers, anchovies, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Vitello Tonatto is a typical Christmas dish in Italy, but nowdays it’s also served as a cold summer dish.
30. PARMIGIANO REGGIANO
Parmesan cheese is world-famous Italian hard cheese coming from the province of Parma in the Emilia Romagna region. Parmigiano Reggiano is a hard cow’s milk cheese, nicknamed ‘King of Cheeses’. Commonly Parmesan cheese is grated over pasta, risotto, and salads but it is also eaten alone. If you are traveling to Modena or Bologna, tasting slices of authentic Parmesan Reggiano should not be missed out.
31. GRANA PADANO
Another famous Italian cheese coming from the region of Lombardy and Po River valley. Grana Padano is a hard cheese of grainy texture, very similar to Parmegiano Reggiano. If you are travailing to Milan or Lake Como, you should opt for authentic Grana Padano cheese.
White mozzarella is a popular Italian cheese made from Italian water buffalo’s milk. Mozzarella is a semi-soft cheese very mild in taste. Although there are different types of mozzarella cheese (made from buffalo’s milk, cow’s milk, goats’ milk, and sheep’s milk), authentic mozzarella from southern Italy is always buffalo mozzarella (Mozzarella di Bufala Campana). Classic mozzarella comes from Lazio and Campana regions. Traditionally mozzarella is an ingredient of various pasta dishes, popular Caprese salad, and different kinds of pizza.
To talk about the most popular Italian cheese and not to mention gorgonzola would be unfair. Gorgonzola is the most famous Italian blue cheese. To tell the truth, this veined blue cheese is a top staple food from Italy, as it can be consumed in many ways (as a pizza topping, in a dish as an ingredient, in a sauce, as a side dish…). Gorgonzola cheese comes from the town of Gorgonzola near Milan in northern Italy.
34. INSALATA CAPRESE
Caprese salad is a famous Italian salad made of fresh sliced tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, garnished with olive oil, acetate balsamico (Italian vinegar), and fresh basil leaves. Caprese salad is traditionally an appetizer in Italy (not a side dish).
Prosciutto is famous Italian air-cured ham. Italian prosciutto typically refers to raw ham (prosciutto crudo) and rarely to cooked ham (prosciutto cotto). It originates from Po River Valley, but is it eaten across Italy as an appetizer. Sometimes prosciutto is also called Parma ham as the most appreciated prosciutto in Italy is Prosciutto di Parma from Parma province in the Emilia Romagna region in Po River Valley.
Salami are traditional foods in Italy. Italian salami refer to sausages (dry-cured and fresh) made of typically pork meat mixed with high-quality pork fat and spiced with pepper, salt, garlic, wine, fennel and sometimes even cinnamon. But sometimes Italian salami are made also with some other meats as well like: beef or rabbit meat. But nevertheless, all salami have in common red interior mixed with white fat.
Depending on your Italian itinerary and Italian destinations, you should try chicken or rabbit based Cacciatore sausage from Calabria, or Soppressata di Calabria, Salame di Felino from Parma, pork and fennel based finocchiona sausage (Salame Finocchiona) or Soppressata Toscana from Tuscany, Salame Napoletano with peperoncino, Genovese pork-based salami, Ciauscolo salami with pork meat, white wine, garlic and black pepper from Marche region.
Probably the most famous Italian sausage (salume) is Mortadella di Bologna. This traditional Italian pork-based sausage is made with black pepper, pistachios and myrtle berries. Although you can eat different variations of mortadella in Italy such as Prato mortadella with garlic and ‘alchermes‘ liquor from Tuscany or smoked Amatrice mortadella, you should not miss authentic Mortadella di Bologna in Bologna.
38. PESTO ALLA GENOVESE
Genoa sauce is world renewed Italian sauce made from fresh basil leaves, smashed garlic, pine nuts and hard cheese blended with extra virgin olive oil. Original pesto comes from the city of Genoa, therefor it is named after the city. Pesto typically comes with various pasta dishes. Thus, when in Genova don’t miss out Pesto Genovese.
Italian tartufo is a highly prized gourmet delicacy, especially Tartufo Bianco (white truffle) from the Piedmont region. White truffles reach regularly the price of several thousand dollars per kilo on the market. Fresh truffles are used over pasta, risotto, eggs, and salads in Italy. The city of Alba in the Piedmont region is nicknamed the White Truffle Capital of the World. If you are traveling to the city of Alba in Italy from September to December when the truffles season is, you should try local food delicacy called Carne Cruda all’ Albese. Black truffles are also a delicacy food but less aromatic and less praised than white truffles. If you traveling to the city of Assisi and in the Umbria region, be sure to try Asissi omelet with truffles. If you are a foodie and you want a unique souvenir from your trip to Italy, Italian olive oil with truffles could be your thing.
40. OLIO D’OLIVA
Italy is the second producer of olive oil in the World, following only Spain by the production. Olive oil is one of the most common traditional foods in Italy. Although olive oil is produced in Italy from the north to the south, from Lombardy to Calabria, Sicily, and Sardinia, some of the best olive oils come from Tuscany, Lake Garda area, Lazio Region and Sardinia.
Depending on where you are heading to on your Italy vacations, you could indulge in peppery flavored olive oil from Tuscany, herbal flavored olive oil from Liguria, delicate and rare olive oil from Lake Garda, tomato-like flavored olive oil from Lazio region, artichoke, and cardoon-like flavored olive oil from Sardinia.
41. ACETO BALSAMICO
Balsamic vinegar from Modena and Reggio Emilia is world-famous Italian vinegar made from grape must. Traditionally Aceto balsamico is used with pasta dishes and risotto dishes, and some seafood like shrimps and scallops, but also with grilled fish, eggs and fresh fruits. If you are heading to Modena or Reggio Emilia region, don’t miss sampling first-class Italian balsamic vinegar.
Campari is the most popular Italian liquor sold today in more than 190 countries worldwide. This aromatic dark red, and bitter-sweet in taste Italian drink is commonly used in various cocktails. The city of Novara in the Piedmont region on north-west Italy is the hometown of this world-famous liquor made from aromatic herbs, plants, and fruits.
Limoncello is world-renewed Italian lemon-flavored liquor originating from southern Italy, more precisely from the Bay of Naples, the Amalfi Coast, and the Sorrento Peninsula. This classic sweet and citrusy Italian drink is made by soaking lemon zests in neutral grain alcohol for months. Traditionally it is served chilled after dinner as a digestive. If you are planning your next vacation on the Amalfi Coast, you don’t want to miss out sampling authentic limoncello for sure.
44. APEROL SPRITZ
Similar to Campari, but with less alcohol and with much less bitter in taste comes orange-colored Aperol, another classic Italian drink. While Campari is digestive, Aperol is an aperitif. In Italy, extremely popular is Aperol spritz, a cocktail made of Aperol, soda water, Prosecco wine, and a slice of orange. Aperol and Aperol Spritz originate from Padua, but they are widely consumed throughout Italy especially during hot summer days.
Prosecco is a famous Italian sparkling wine named after the village where it comes from – Prosecco village, close to Treviso and Venice. These days Prosecco is produced in a larger area of northeast Italy. In 2019 Prosecco hills received world heritage status by UNESCO. There are three types of Prosecco: Prosecco Spumante (sparkling), Prosecco Frizzante (semi-sparkling), and Prosecco Tranquillo. Prosecco is characterized by the fruity and flowery aroma and it matches greatly cured meats, fruits based appetizers (like prosciutto-wrapped melon) or crostini. Remember, France has Champagne, but Italy has Prosecco.
Amaretto is a popular Italian liquor made of bitter almonds but surprisingly it is very sweet in taste. Originally it was produced of almonds stones, but later the amaretto production of peach stones and apricot stones started also. Italian Amaretto is consumed alone or added to some dishes, especially desserts like tiramisu. But, amaretto comes in many popular cocktails too.
Negroni is one of the most famous Italian cocktails. The main ingredients are gin, Campari, vermouth, and a fresh orange peel. Negroni was named after Count Camillo Negroni who asked to put gin instead of soda water into his glass of Americano cocktail. The legend says the event took place in Caffe Casoni in Florence in 1919. Therefore, Florence is accredited as the birthplace of the Negroni cocktail. But if you are heading to Treviso, you should visit the Negroni Distillery in Treviso founded by Count Camillo in 1919 where bottles of legendary Antico Negroni have been produced.
48. VIN SANTO
What Sherry is to Spain, Vin Santo is to Italy. Vin Santo is a classic Italian sweet dessert wine. Although it originates from Tuscany, today Vin Santo is produced throughout Italy. Thus, the color and sweetness of Vinsanto depend on the region and the method of production. As a dessert wine, Vin Santo is traditionally served with biscuits. If you are traveling to Tuscany and you have a sweet tooth, you should put Vin Santo and biscotti on your bucket list of traditional foods in Italy.
49. CHIANTI VINO
Chianti wine is probably the most famous Italian red wine. It is produced in the Chianti region between Florence and Siena in central Tuscany. The best known among Chianti wines is Chianti Classico. Symbol of Chianti wine is a black rooster seal that adorns every bottle of Chianti wine. This first-class dry wine is a great fit for all tomato-based dishes (pasta dishes, meatballs ..). No trip to Tuscany is complete without sampling authentic Chianti wine.
I believe Italian espresso doesn’t need any special introduction. In a certain way, espresso coffee is a synonym for Italy and the Italian way of life or ‘la dolce vita’ (the sweet life). When someone mentions Italian foods, the first thoughts on everyone’s mind are most likely pizza, pasta, gelato, and espresso coffee. A visit to Italy is not complete without a cup of espresso, macchiato, cappuccino, latte or cortado.
When talking about espresso, I should mention affogato too. Affogato is a popular coffee-based Italian dessert made of a scoop of vanilla gelato and a shot of espresso. Quite often some berries, honey, and some other gelato flavors are added. Essentially, affogato is something between a dessert and a beverage. No matter how do you want to define it (as a dessert or a beverage), for all coffee aficionado affogato is highly on the list of Italian foods to enjoy in Italy!
Tiramisu is another famous coffee-flavored Italian dessert. This rather simple Italian dessert is made of sweet ‘savoiardi’ biscuits soaked in coffee and sweet cream made of mascarpone cheese, eggs and sugar, and sometimes liqueur. The birth town of tiramisu is Treviso, but over time tiramisu has become one of the most popular desserts throughout Italy.
53. PANNA COTTA
Panna Cotta is another world-famous dessert coming from Italy. Panna cotta in Italian literally means ‘cooked cream’. But panna cotta is much more than simple cooked cream. It is a par excellence dessert made of flavored cream (often with coffee, rum or vanilla) and served with berries, chocolate or caramel sauce. Additionally, it can be garnished with some liquors and fruits.
Panettone is sweet Italian bread traditionally prepared for Christmas. Panettone originates from the city of Milan in Italy, but over time it has become one of the most famous Christmas bread in the World. This cupola-shaped bread is flavored with candied oranges, citrons, lemon zest, raisins, and sometimes chocolate. Sweet panettone matches well sweet dessert wines and liquors.
55. COLOMBA DI PASQUA
While Panettone is sweet Italian Christmas bread, Colomba di Pasqua is sweet Italian Easter bread.
Delicious Easter Dove, or Colomba di Pasqua in Italian, tastes similar to Panettone. The dough is made pretty much the same. But unlike Panettone, Colomba di Pasqua is made without raisins, and the dough is traditionally covered with almonds and nib sugar. Colomba di Pasqua origniates from Milan, the same as Panettone.
Crostata is a famous Italian pie or baked tart with inconsistent thick fillings. Depending on the fillings, there are sweet and savory crostata pies. Sweet crostata comes with sweet fruits, most commonly cherries, apricots, and peaches, while savory crostata is filled with vegetables, cheese, meat, seafood, and fish. One of the most popular crostata pies is ricotta and lemon zest-based crostata called crostata di ricotta from central Italy.
Talking about authentic Italian foods means talking about traditional Italian pastries. Cannoli are famous Italian pastries. Sweet cannoli are tube-shaped and finger-sized pastries filled with sweet cream that quite often contains ricotta cheese. Cannoli originate from Sicily, or more precisely Palermo and Messina. Authentic Sicilian cannoli are filled with ricotta cheese, Sicilian Marsala wine, white vinegar, chocolate chips, and optionally chopped pistachios. This iconic Italian dessert is today well-known around the world.
Spain has turron, but Portugal and Italy have torrone. In any case, it is a confection made of egg whites, sugar, honey and toasted nuts (most frequently almonds, but also can be whole hazelnuts, and pistachios) in a most commonly rectangular shape. Traditionally torrone is a Christmas dessert in Italy.
If you are going to Venice for the carnival, you should try a traditional Italian carnival pastry called galani. Galani are fried sweet and thin pastry strips sold in every bakery and pastry shop in Venice. If you are visiting Venice Carnival, you should treat yourself with delicious and crispy galani.
60. BISCOTTI – CANTUCCINI
Biscotti or cantuccini are traditional Italian almond biscuits originating from Tuscany, or more specifically from the city of Prato in Tuscany. Original cantuccini from Prato are called biscotti di Prato. These oblong-shaped crispy cookies are traditionally consumed with sweet dessert wine, i.e above mentioned vin santo. If you are taking a trip to Tuscany, you should try Tuscany biscotti or biscotti di Prato.
Frittelle are classic Italian doughnuts prepared traditionally in Carnival time and originally coming from Venice and the Veneto region. These round-shaped traditional Carnival confections are filled with raisins and sometimes pine nuts. They are also known in Venice as Fritelle Veneziane. While Frittelle Veneziane are typically filled with raisins and pine nuts, Frittelle con cioccolata are filled with chocolate, Frittelle con zabaione are filed with Marsala wine, Frittelle con crema chantilly are filled with vanilla.
Probably the most popular frozen dessert in the world is Italian gelato. Authentic Italian gelato is a creamy custard made of whole milk and eggs traditionally flavored with chocolate, vanilla, stracciatella, hazelnut, and pistachio. Modern gelato is flavored with some fruity flavors. No visit to Italy is complete without a scoop of Italian gelato, agree?!
Worldwide known Semifreddo is one of the most popular desserts from Italy. This ‘half mousse – half ice cream’ dessert is typically made with egg yolks, sugar and cream. Some of the most popular semifreddos are chocolate semifreddo, lemon semifreddo, nougat semifreddo, pistachio semifredo, berry semifreddo, tiramisu semifreddo..
RECOMMENDED READ – ITALIAN FOOD COOKBOOKS
What are the traditional foods of Italy?
Traditional foods of Italy are: ragu alla Bolognese, pizza, focaccia, spaghetti, lasagne, gnocchi, risotto, ravioli, tagliatelle, pappardelle, fettuccine, linguine, carpaccio, bistecca alla Fiorentina, melanzane alla parmigiana, bottarga, ricci di mare, bruschetta, grissini, polenta, pasta e fagioli, pasta e cecci, tortellini, polpette, arancini …
What do Italians eat?
Italians traditionally eat: pizza, bistecca alla Fiorentina, carpaccio, spaghetti, bruschetta, lasagne, gnocchi, risotto, ravioli, tagliatelle, pappardelle, fettuccine, linguine, focaccia, grissini, polenta, parmigiano reggiano, grana padano, mozarella, pasta e fagioli, pasta e cecci, tortellini, polpette, arancini, risi e bisi, carciofi alla giudea, ragu alla bolognese …
What is the national dish of italy?
The national dish of Italy is ragu alla bolognese (bolognese sauce). The bolognese sauce is used a lot in Italian cuisine throughout Italy with many traditional Italian pasta dishes such as spaghetti, tagliatelle, pappardelle, fettuccine …
What to eat in Italy?
If you want to sample authentic foods from Italy, you must eat in Italy: authentic Italian pizza, authentic Italian gelato, spaghetti, bruschetta, lasagne, gnocchi, risotto, ravioli, tagliatelle, pappardelle, fettuccine, linguine, focaccia, ragu alla bolognese, some authentic Italian cheese (like parmigiano reggiano, grana padano, mozarella ..), authentic Caprese salad …
What are some common foods in Italy?
Common foods in Italy are: pizza, carpaccio, spaghetti, gnocchi, risotto, bruschetta, lasagne, ravioli, tagliatelle, parmegiano reggiano, grana padano, mozarella, prosciutto, salami, pesto genovese, olio d’oliva, aceto balsamico, gelato …
What food is Italy known for?
Italy is known for famous foods from Italy like pizza, spaghetti, prosciutto, lasagne, gnocchi, ravioli, risotto, bruschetta, parmigiano reggiano, mozarella, grana padano, insalata caprese, gelato, tiramisu …
Cardoons are native to Northwest Africa and have been growing wild for thousands of years. The prickly plant was introduced to Central and Western Mediterranean regions in ancient times, and the crops quickly began to be domesticated and utilized for culinary applications. Cardoons were a common vegetable in Persian, Roman, and Greek cuisine and maintained a presence in European cooking through the Middle Ages. In the Victorian Era, the stalks were a favorite vegetable among the English upper class, and during this time, the plant was also brought to the New World in the 1700s. In the 19th century, Cardoons fell out of favor due to their laborious nature and have remained mostly unknown in the modern-day, except for their use in regions of Italy, Spain, and France. Despite their decline in the culinary world, Cardoons are a highly invasive plant, escaping cultivation, and have naturalized in warm regions across Europe, Northern Africa, the United States, South America, Australia, and New Zealand. Today Cardoons are primarily sold through farmer’s markets and specialty stores when in season. The stalks are also occasionally grown as an ornamental in home gardens for their violet flowers.
There are many theories as to the origin of gazpacho, including one that says it is a soup of bread, olive oil, water, vinegar and garlic that arrived in Spain with the Romans.  Once in Spain, it became a part of southern cuisine, particularly in Córdoba, Seville or Granada Castilian kingdoms using stale bread, garlic, olive oil, salt, and vinegar, similar to ajoblanco.  During the 19th century, red gazpacho was created when tomatoes were added to the ingredients. This version spread internationally, and remains commonly known.
There are many modern variations of gazpacho with avocados, cucumbers, parsley, strawberries, watermelon, grapes, meat stock, seafood, and other ingredients instead of tomatoes and bread. 
Most gazpacho include stale bread, tomato, cucumbers, onion, capsicum, garlic, olive oil, wine vinegar, water, and salt.  Northern recipes often include cumin and/or pimentón (smoked sweet paprika).
Traditionally, gazpacho was made by pounding the vegetables in a mortar with a pestle this more laborious method is still sometimes used as it helps keep the gazpacho cool and avoids the foam and completely smooth consistency created by blenders or food processors.  A traditional way of preparation is to pound garlic cloves in a mortar, add a little soaked stale bread, then olive oil and salt, to make a paste. Next, very ripe tomatoes and vinegar are added to this paste. In the days before refrigeration the gazpacho was left in an unglazed earthenware pot to cool by evaporation, with the addition of some water. 
Gazpacho may be served alone or with garnishes, such as hard-boiled eggs, chopped ham (in the salmorejo variety from Córdoba), chopped almonds, cumin crushed with mint, orange segments, finely chopped green capsicum, onion, tomato or cucumber.  In Extremadura, local ham was added to the gazpacho itself rather than as a garnish, this is called gazpacho extremeño. Andalusian sources say that gazpacho should be slightly chilled, but not iced. 
The ingredients, texture, and thickness of gazpacho vary regionally and between families.
Similar cold raw soups such as arjamolho in Portugal, porra antequerana and ajoblanco, are also popular in Andalusia, although not as widespread as gazpacho. Gazpacho and salmorejo are especially similar, since they are both tomato-based cold soups that are widely popular in Spain the main difference between gazpacho and salmorejo is the culinary technique used  since gazpacho is a soup whereas salmorejo is an emulsion. In addition, while both dishes share the main ingredients of tomato, olive oil, bread, and garlic, gazpacho can also be prepared with cucumber, peppers, and vinegar, whereas salmorejo cannot.
Gazpacho manchego, despite its name, is a meat stew, served hot, not a variation on the cold vegetable soup.
In Spain Edit
The original recipe using bread, water, vinegar, oil and salt is traditional in the Iberian Peninsula, perhaps going back to Roman times. Every central and southern region has its own variety. The humble gazpacho became a very deeply rooted food for peasants and shepherds in Spain. The basic gazpacho gave rise to many variants, some also called gazpacho, others not some authors have tried to classify all these variations. Gazpachos may be classified by colour: the most usual red ones (which contain tomato), white ones (which contain no tomato, but include dried fruits), and green ones (which are white but contain some spices that make them green). These variants have their basic ingredients in common, including garlic paste which works as an emulsifier, bread, olive oil, vinegar and salt. In addition to the traditional ingredients, red fruits such as strawberries, muskmelon, etc., may be added, making the gazpacho a bit sweeter. Gazpacho may be served as a starter, main dish, or tapa.
Arranque roteño Edit
A popular variation comes from the town of Rota in the province of Cadiz. During times of drought there was not enough water to make gazpacho thus, arranque has the same ingredients as gazpacho, but requires less water and bread, making it a sort of cream. Some people add more bread until it takes on the consistency of a dip.
Extremaduran variations Edit
In Extremadura, gazpachos are a kind of purée or thick gazpacho known as cojondongo, or cojondongo del gañán,  made of breadcrumbs, garlic, oil, and vinegar, then topped with chopped onions, tomato and peppers. 
La Mancha variations Edit
Gazpacho manchego, as its name implies, is made in the east region of La Mancha, in Albacete and nearby areas, and is popular in other areas in the center and southwest of the country.
It is a meat stew, whose main ingredients are small game animals or birds such as rabbit, hare, quail, or pigeon, and flat bread,  and may include garlic, tomatoes, and mushrooms. It is cooked in a cauldron and served hot. Another well-known variant in La Mancha is gazpacho de pastor or galiano.
Some other hot meat or fish dishes from other regions are called gazpacho (gazpacho jumillano, gazpacho de Yecla, gazpacho de Requena, etc.)
Castilian variations Edit
Gazpacho is often eaten during the very hot and dry summers in Castilla y León. The gazpacho made in La Moraña in the province of Ávila has large pieces of vegetables floating in a watery soup. 
Some Antipasti Recipes for Your Next Dinner Party
Arancini (Italian Rice Balls)
- 2 eggs
- 2 cups leftover risotto
- 4 oz. mozzarella cheese, cut in ½-inch cubes (about 1 cup)
- 3/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Marinara Sauce
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Beat eggs lightly with fork. Add the rice and stir gently but thoroughly.
Take 1 tablespoon of the mixture, place a cube of mozzarella in the middle and then top with another tablespoon of rice. Shape into a ball and roll in the breadcrumbs. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat with the rest of the rice mixture.
Refrigerate pan of rice balls for at least 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 425°F. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil over rice balls.
Bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve with warm marinara sauce.
This healthy side vegetable salad is made quickly and is very fresh tasting. It is a great way to add more vegetables to your meals with little effort. It can be served as a salad, side vegetable, or appetizer, and can be made in advance and kept in your refrigerator. Give it a little extra time to marinate before serving and the flavor will be even better.
- 2 cups carrots, sliced on the diagonal
- 11/2 cups thick sliced celery
- 1 cup fresh sliced fennel bulb
- 2 tablespoons rinsed and halved olives
- 2 tablespoons capers, rinsed
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dried Italian herbs
- 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper
- 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- extra virgin olive oil to taste
Bring salted water to a boil in a medium pot while cutting vegetables. Place carrots in boiling water for about 4 minutes and add celery and fennel. Cook for just 1 more minute. Immediately drain through a colander and rinse with cold water. Pat dry and place in a bowl with capers and olives.
Whisk all dressing ingredients together, drizzling olive oil at the end, a little at a time.
Toss with vegetables and marinate for at least 15 minutes before serving.
The cooking time for this recipe can vary depending on the exact size you cut your vegetables. You want your vegetables to be tender on the outside and still crisp on the inside. When they get to this point remove from the heat. Place them under cold water to stop the cooking. To check for doneness, insert the tip of a sharp knife. If you overcook the vegetables they won’t hold up and will get soggy quickly. If you undercook them they won’t absorb the dressing. It is also very important that your vegetables are dry, so they don’t dilute the flavor of the dressing.
Savory Cheese Biscotti
Makes about 45 biscotti
- 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour or Eagle Ultra Grain flour
- 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper (coarse grind)
- 1 teaspoon dried Italian herb mix
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/2 cup grated aged Asiago cheese
- 1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced almonds (with skins) or pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts, pine nuts, or pistachio nuts, toasted
- 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten or 1/2 cup egg substitute
- 1/2 cup low fat milk
- Tomato Marmalade, recipe below
Put the flour, pepper, dried herbs, baking powder, salt, cheeses, and almonds in the work bowl of a food processor. Pulse briefly to combine. Add the butter and pulse briefly. Combine the eggs or egg substitute with the milk and pour the mixture into the food processor. Process just until the mixture begins to form a ball of dough.
Turn the dough out onto a large piece of waxed paper and pat it into a disk. Wrap the disk in the waxed paper and refrigerate it for 2 hours.
Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes. Divide into 2 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a log about 11 inches long, 2 inches wide, and 1 inch thick. Wetting your fingers with water makes it easier to shape the logs.
Cover 2 rimmed baking sheet pans with parchment paper and place one log on each.
Bake the logs for 30 minutes, rotating the baking sheets on the oven shelves after 15 minutes. The logs should be lightly brown on top and springy to the touch. Remove them from the oven and transfer them to a rack to cool for 20 minutes.
Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees F. Place a log on a cutting board and, using a serrated knife, cut it on the bias into 1/3-inch-thick slices. Transfer the slices back onto the baking sheets.
Bake the biscotti for 40 minutes, turning them over once halfway through, until they are golden and crisp and switching the baking sheets on upper and lower oven shelves. Remove the biscotti to a rack to cool completely. Serve as an appetizer with cheese, salami, olives, and tomato marmalade.
Spread this marmalade on crostini and top with a sharp or pungent cheese. Using a sugar alternative such as, Domino Light or Truvia for Baking, works just as well as regular sugar in recipes. Since the sugar amount can be reduced by half with a sugar alternative, calories are saved.
Makes two 1/2-pint jars
- 5 pounds ripe plum tomatoes, peeled and seeded
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- 2 cups sugar or 1 cup light sugar alternative
- Juice and peel of 2 oranges (peel should be cut into strips)
- 1 to 2 tablespoons good balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 chile peppers, minced
Cut each tomato into 4 pieces. Put the tomato pieces into a heavy-bottomed non-reactive pot as you go.
Add the remaining ingredients into the pot with the tomatoes. Set the pot over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Cook at a fairly lively simmer for about 1 1/2 hours or until the marmalade is glossy and thick enough to spread. Be sure to stir often to prevent burning. Remove bay leaves.
If you prefer a smoother sauce, you can blend the mixture using a blender, food processor or immersion blender.
Spoon the marmalade into sterilized jars and store the marmalade in the refrigerator, where it will keep for at least a month.
Stephen Fries: Recipes for seaside gazpacho and zucchini, sweet corn and basil penne
In a recent column I mentioned &ldquoThe Vegetable Butcher: How to Select, Prep, Slice, Dice, and Masterfully Cook Vegetables from Artichokes to Zucchini,&rdquo by Cara Mangini (© 2016, Workman Publishing, $29.95), the winner of the single-subject cookbook category, which I judged for the International Association of Culinary Professionals.
Since some farmers markets have opened and others will be opening soon, I thought this book would come in handy now. It offers ideas of what to do with the beautiful produce, both common and less-well-known crops, you will see. Many times at the market I hear customers say, &ldquoif only I knew what to do with this beautiful. &rdquo
Marrying the art of butchery with the versatility of seasonal produce, Mangini demystifies the world of vegetables, showing exactly how to prepare an artichoke, peel a tomato, chiffonade kale, slice kohlrabi into carpaccio, break down a celery root, and cut cauliflower into steaks.
She shares over 150 mouthwatering recipes that put vegetables front and center, from marinated celery, celery leaf and chickpea salad, to a grilled asparagus, taleggio and fried egg panini from smashed and seared beets with chimichurri and goat cheese crema to rutabaga and apple cardamom pie with bourbon-maple cream and pecans.
Mangini comes from a long line of butchers. Her Italian grandfather and great-grandfather cut tenderloins and butterflied chickens for a living. She also wields a knife, but hers is used against the curves of butternut squash and the stalks of freshly picked Brussels sprouts at Little Eater, her vegetable-inspired restaurant, produce stand and artisanal foods boutique in Columbus, Ohio.
I enjoyed the cookbook&rsquos complete vegetable education, including: the in-depth guide to common butchers&rsquo cuts for each vegetable guidelines for knife selection and care when the vegetable is in peak season what to look for at the market how to wash, prep and store each vegetable and cooking methods for the produce, like how to roast, boil, steam and caramelize beets.
For each recipe I prepared, the vegetable was the center of a truly distinctive dish. Basic recipes provide foundational methods that every cook should know: how to steam or sauté spinach, the art of making crispy fingerling potatoes and how to perfectly pan-roast Brussels sprouts. From there, she serves up an array of creative recipes celebrating the flavor of each vegetable. You can&rsquot say these are not creative &mdash orange-shallot fiddlehead ferns and ricotta crostini, cardoon and fontina bread pudding, parsnip-ginger layer cake with browned buttercream frosting.
Check out two of the book&rsquos recipes below. For the recipe for rhubarb and strawberry crumble with lime yogurt and pistachios, visit bit.ly/2oraslS.
The book includes the familiar favorites, such as arugula, broccoli, corn, eggplant, tomatoes and greens. Mangini also ventures into less-well-known territory of interest, showing how to make quick and mouthwatering dishes from cardoons, crosnes, Jicama, kohlrabi, puntarelle, salsify and scorzonera. I will have to be on the lookout for this cornucopia of vegetables at the farmers markets.
And speaking of farmers markets, visit Cityseed farmers markets in New Haven (cityseed.org) Wooster Square (at the corner of Chapel Street and DePalma Court, Saturdays from 9 a.m.-1 p.m.) Edgewood Park (corner of Whalley and West Rock avenues, Sundays from 10 a.m.-1 p.m.) Downtown market (Church Street in front of City Hall, Wednesdays from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. beginning June 14) Fair Haven (Quinnipiac River Park corner of Front Street and Grand Avenue, Thursdays from 3-6 p.m., beginning July 6). You might just find a favorite new vegetable to cook!
The author writes,&ldquothe best gazpacho I ever had was in a little town on the Andalusian coast of Spain. It arrived at my seaside table in full ceremony with little bowls of chopped tomato, cucumber, red bell peppers, onion, and crusty croutons &mdash the same ingredients that comprised the soup. It was icy cold, creamy, and instantly satisfying, creating a rush that drove me to spoon and slurp until all I could do was wipe the bowl with bread, and then ask for another (por favor).
Consiglio's Cooking Demonstration and Dinner: Thursday, May 18, May 25, 6:30 p.m., Consiglio's Restaurant, 165 Wooster St., New Haven, reservations required, 203-865-4489, $65 (beverages, tax and gratuity not included). Preparation of a four-course meal is demonstrated. Each course is shown, step by step, and then served. Learn how to make some of Consiglio's trademark dishes: Roasted lamb chops with spring pesto, spinach fettuccini, wild mushrooms and truffle oil, veal tenderloin with garlic roasted potatoes medley and broccolini, strawberry rhubarb shortcake.
Springtime Dinner Cooking Class: Friday, 6:30-9 p.m., Chef's Emporium, 449 Boston Post Road, Orange, 203-799-2665, bit.ly/2ptALdY, $50. Whether you prefer to cook indoors or out, this dinner menu is great for entertaining. Bring a bottle of wine or your favorite beverage. Menu: Spring salad with pink peppercorn vinaigrette, cornish game hens with orange honey glaze, fingerling potatoes with scallions and olives, strawberry tart.
Tortellini Workshop: Sunday, noon-2 p.m., Chef's Emporium, 449 Boston Post Road, Orange, 203-799-2665, bit.ly/2pdvFie, $50. Once you learn how to make classic fresh pasta dough and how to work with it, the choices of fillings are limitless. Create two different types of classic tortellini fillings completely from scratch. Bring a bottle of wine or your favorite beverage. Menu: Homemade pasta dough, mushroom, shallot and Parmesan tortellini, tortellini bolognese. (For info on the Seafood on the Grill class May 19, visit bit.ly/2pNYoMa.)
Mother's Day Brunch Painting Party: Sunday, 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Art Plus Studio, 1207 Chapel St., New Haven, 203-500-7352, bit.ly/2pdGRuX, $65 (includes art supplies, instruction and brunch). Treat mom to a special brunch painting party. We're painting "Two Birds" on a unique, vertical, 10-inch by 20-inch canvas. BYOB, so bring some champagne to mix with our orange juice. Pre-registration is required.
Herb Seedling Garden and Wine Pairings: May 20, 2-3:30 p.m., Wine 101, 1220 Whitney Ave., Hamden, 475-202-6657, $20 (includes wine and food along with materials for a take-home herb garden). Make your own seedling herb garden and learn about wine while doing it. Local certified master gardener Rachel Ziesk leads this class on how to plant your own herb garden that you will take home. We'll be pairing wines with small treats with the different herbs prepared by Meg from The Farm Belly.
Worth Tasting: June 3, 10:45 a.m., downtown New Haven, reservations required, 203-415-3519, 203-777-8550, bit.ly/1UUyyA4, $64. Enjoy tasty samplings from several of New Haven's favorites. You won't be hungry after this tour. I will lead this one.
&ldquoI&rsquove tried so many different ways to replicate that gazpacho. What&rsquos important, I&rsquove learned, is to use good-quality ingredients, especially the olive oil and tomatoes, and make sure you chill it overnight. You don&rsquot have to add breadcrumbs (I don&rsquot always), but it&rsquos a traditional addition for thickness and texture, and a handy way to use up stale bread. The perfect ratio of ingredients is debatable &mdash but this one stays true to the classic my memory holds and it always has me coming back for more.&rdquo
Seaside Gazpacho with Choose-Your-Own Toppings
3 pounds (5 to 6) medium-large ripe tomatoes (any kind), cored, seeded and quartered
1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped (about ¾ cup)
3 slices firm white bread, crusts removed, torn into 1-inch pieces (about 1 cup optional)
1 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus extra as needed
½ small red onion, coarsely chopped (about ½ cup)
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and coarsely chopped (about 1 cup)
1 to 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar, plus extra as needed
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil, for serving
½ small red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and finely diced
½ small red onion, finely diced
½ small cucumber, seeded and finely diced
½ medium tomato, cored, seeded and finely diced
1 cup hand-torn toasted bread or croutons, or coarse breadcrumbs
Chopped fresh basil (optional)
Crumbled goat cheese or feta cheese (optional)
In a high-speed blender (for the smoothest outcome) or a food processor, finely chop the garlic, then add the tomatoes and cucumber and puree. Pulse in the bread, if you are adding it, and the 1 teaspoon of salt. Let the mixture stand for 15 minutes, allowing the bread to soak.
Add the onion, bell pepper and 1 tablespoon of the sherry vinegar and blend until smooth. With the motor running, gradually stream in the olive oil through the feed tube.
Transfer to a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, ideally overnight.
Taste the gazpacho and add more salt and up to 1 tablespoon of sherry vinegar if needed. Stir in the freshly ground black pepper. Serve with a drizzle of your best extra-virgin olive oil on top and small bowls of the toppings alongside. Makes 4-5 servings.
Notes: Gazpacho is an excellent showcase for tomatoes that have become a little too ripe to use in a sandwich or salad. This recipe is flexible feel free to use a mix of tomatoes and use the amount that you have.
The author writes: &ldquoSalting the pasta water is imperative here. It is responsible for much of the flavor in the simple sauce.&rdquo
Zucchini, Sweet Corn, and Basil Penne with Pine Nuts and Mozzarella
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small red or yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 medium zucchini, cut into ¼-inch by 3-inch sticks
Kernels from 2 ears fresh corn
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped
2 ounces mozzarella cheese, torn into bite-size pieces
2 to 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Freshly shaved Parmesan cheese, for garnish
Extra-virgin olive oil, for garnish
Lemon wedges, for serving (optional)
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it generously (add 1 tablespoon of salt for every 4 quarts). Cook the penne according to package instructions until just shy of al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain the pasta, reserving at least 2 cups pasta water for the sauce.
Heat the oil in a large, deep skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until it starts to brown lightly, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until it becomes fragrant, 30 seconds. Add the zucchini, turn the heat up to high, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the zucchini softens, 6 to 8 minutes. (You will need to add up to 1 cup of the reserved pasta water, a little at a time, as the zucchini cooks and becomes dry and sticks to the pan.)
Adjust the heat to medium and add the corn, ½ teaspoon of salt, red pepper flakes and the butter. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes. Add the penne and ½ cup of the pasta water, and stir well to incorporate. Cook, stirring often, until the pasta is well coated and the sauce has thickened, about 2 minutes.
Turn off the heat and add half of the basil, the pine nuts and the mozzarella. Add the lemon juice to taste and stir well to incorporate it. Scoop the penne into individual shallow bowls, making sure to evenly distribute the zucchini and corn.
Top with the remaining basil, a fresh shaving of Parmesan, and a drizzle of your best extra-virgin olive oil. Serve with lemon wedges if you wish. Makes 4-6 servings.
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Which restaurant recipes or other recipes would you like to have? Which food products are you having difficulty finding? Do you have cooking questions? Send them to me.
An Italian Christmas Kitchen, from North to South II
Let’s go so, and let’s begin with the region by many considered the cradle of Italian cuisine: la bella Emilia-Romagna.
In the first part of this article, I let my memories take over and told you a bit about my childhood Christmases and my grandparents. The recipes of the Northern regions of Italy are mostly familiar to me and so are those from Emilia-Romagna, which you will find below. Culinary tradition, though, begins to change once we get to Lazio and our trip takes us South: it will be a bit of a discovery for me, too.
A Christmas Italian Kitchen: the central regions
This is the region of filled pasta and salumi, known for the richness, in flavor, ingredients and associations, of its culinary tradition. Christmas is, of course, no exception to this rule. A variety of tortellini, a smaller version of cappelletti, is made for Christmas Eve and Christmas day. Usually, the Eve is a day of “magro” where meat is not consumed, hence its tortellini are usually filled with ricotta and other types of cheeses. Things change dramatically, of course, on Christmas day, when people celebrate with rich, meaty tortellini in brodo di cappone (in a capon broth), filled with mortadella di Bologna, ham, Parmesan and eggs.
Keep in mind that pretty much everywhere in Italy, as you may have noticed already while reading the first part of this article, tortellini, cappelletti and ravioli are served in a broth at Christmas: it is usually capon or hen broth. The birds are then consumed as a meat dish, with sauces and seasonal vegetables. This happens in Emilia-Romagna, too, where boiled capon or hen is often served along with boiled cuts of beef or cotechino. This is also popular in Piemonte.
Ah! Tuscany! The not-so-secret dream location of a very large amount of people all over the world, it is a delight at Christmas time, too. Not only its beautiful towns become, if possible, even more charming, but the food– oh, the food!– is just the perfect completion to this fabulous time of the year. Tuscan people enjoy earthy starters such as crostini ai fegatini (roasted bread with fried livers) and truffle based antipasti, such as carpaccio al tartufo. Roasted capon is a popular meat dish, just as stuffed turkey is. A typical Tuscan stuffing is usually made with ham, roasted chestnuts, bread, cream, salt and pepper. Popular is also roasted guinea fowl.
Dessert is often a delicious panforte of Siena.
Delicious panforte, a typical cake prepared in Tuscan kitchens at Christmas (by jules at wikimedia.org)
Le Marche’s people rejoice on Christmas day before a delicious plate of cappelletti in brodo di cappone and a meat dish of roasted capon with truffles. Once again, capon proves to be a favorite Italian Christmas meat, regardless of the region. Typical of Le Marche are the vincisgrassi, a Marchigian variation of lasagne, with added egg, prosciutto and mushrooms. A delicious pizza di Natale (yes, you read that right, a “Christmas pizza”) completes the feast: this is a heartwarming dessert, made of bread dough filled with candied fruit, nuts, figs and cocoa.
In Abruzzo, tastes and traditions begin to change and turn more towards south. Gone is the capon and the tortellini, in are a delicate, yet flavorsome minestra di cardi, chard soup, made with white chard, chicken broth, meat and eggs, and the lu rintrocilio, homemade pasta with a tomato and mutton sauce. Meat is poultry, usually turkey in broth. Typical desserts are fried parcels of dough, filled with black grape jam and nuts, called calgionetti fritti.
Panpepato of Umbria (by rossella71 at depositphotos.com)
Historically, Umbria has a lot of to do with the traditional idea of an Italian Christmas, as it was here, thanks to the will of St Francis, that the first presepe was created. Umbria is also one of the best-known areas of Italy when it comes to food and culinary expertise, and its traditional Christmas dishes are no exception.
A favorite main pasta dish is, once again, cappelletti in brodo di cappone, often made with a capon filling, too. Capon is also consumed, boiled, as a meat dish, usually with a side of chard. Chard returns on the table of the 25 th , just as in Abruzzo. Desserts are baked and heartwarmingly spicy: panpepato, made with nuts, candied oranges, honey, dark chocolate, black peppers and sultanas, pinoccate, a sugary, pinenuts-based type of cookies, and the torciglione, a sweet dough and almonds twisted bread, are traditionally consumed in Umbria during the Christmas festivities.
In Lazio, fish plays an important part at Christmas: we begin to sense here the influence of more traditionally Mediterranean flavors and ingredients, often associated to the southern part of the country. It is usual to start a Christmas meal with bruschette, followed by a tasty soup of arzilla, broccoli e vongole, skate, broccoli and clams. Main dishes are usually clams spaghetti or a broth made with arzilla. A common side dish are carciofi alla Romana, Roman style artichokes, made with Roman mint, olive oil and parsley. Dessert can be a lovely pangiallo, made with dried and candied fruit, mixed with flour, honey and chocolate. Pangiallo is a presidio Slowfood.
Molise is, to many, a little known area of Italy, but it is home to some magnificent Christmas traditions: did you know, for instance, that Italy has her own bagpipes players? Yes, indeed, and they come from Molise: they are called zampognari and their instruments are the zampogne. Do not compare them to Scottish bagpipe players, though. Zampogne and Scottish bagpipes are similar, but not the same at all, as they are constructed differently, in structure and materials.
But let’s go back to the kitchen: Molise’s Christmas table is filled with earthy flavors and rich ingredients: zuppa di cardi is a popular starter, just as it is in Abruzzo. Baccalà (salted cod) is usually the chosen main, and is prepared in several guises: baccalà arracanato, for instance, is made with garlic, parsley, bread innards, oregano, sultanas, pinenuts and walnuts, whereas the baccalà al forno con verza is made with savoy cabbage, parsley, bread innards and walnuts. Calciuni are a popular dessert that mixes together plenty of ingredients typical of this region: chestnuts, wine, honey, as well as rhum, eggs, vanilla and almonds.
An Italian Christmas kitchen: the South
As mentioned while talking about Lazio, and seen in Molise, the more we head South, the more fish becomes central to Christmas cuisine. Puglia is no exception: baccalà is protagonist once again, this time stewed with lambascioni, a wild variety of onion popular is also lamb with sausage, served with cime di rapa (turnip greens), a typical ingredient in pugliese cuisine. Lasagne and focaccia pugliese, a focaccia made with potatoes and flour, and topped with cherry tomatoes and olives are common. Carteddate and porcedduzzi complete a perfect pugliese Christmas meal: the first are rose-shaped parcels of filo pastry, fried, then dipped in honey or grape (or fig) must. The second are little cubes of dough, deep fried, covered in honey, then placed together on a dish and covered in sprinkles.
Campania, the land of mozzarella di bufala and pizza, of fragrant Amalfi lemons and, of course, of the beautiful, charming Naples. Campania, the land of zampogne and presepi, of good food and tradition, hosts a glorious Christmas when it comes to food, too. Spaghetti with clams and a rich soup made with chicory, egg and veal meat in a capon broth are popular mains. Squid and potatoes and stuffed capon are served along with insalata di rinforzo, while struffoli and rococò are typically chosen to conclude the meal in sweetness. By the way, if you’d like to make struffoli, you can find the recipe by clicking on the link.
The land of the 2019 European Capital of Culture, Matera, is keen on fish as a main on Christmas day: boiled baccalà with peperoni cruschi, sundried peppers, quickly dipped in hot olive oil, is usually anticipated by strascinari al ragù di carne mista, a type of handmade pasta, with a rich meat sauce. On the table, also bread with almonds and deep fried sweet pastries called calzoncelli, filled with chestnuts or chickpeas.
Baccalà with “peperoni cruschi”, a typical Christmas recipe of Basilicata (by MoDs92 at depositphotos.com)
Pasta china is usually Calabria‘s pasta dish for Christmas day: it is like lasagne, but usually made with a maccheroni-type of pasta, filled with meatballs, spicy salame, provola, caciocavallo and pecorino cheeses. Calabrese cuisine contemplates both fish and meat on the 25 th of December: stoccafisso (air dried cod) is cooked with a lovely tomato, onion, olive oil, capers and sultana sauce called ghiotta. Capretto (kid) is cooked with broccoli, black pepper, garlic, laurel and bread crumbs: this is called capretto e vrùocculi nivuri ammullicàti. Quazunielli are sweet parcels of pastry, similar in ingredients to pugliese carteddate, but baked rather than fried.
Our tour through the deliciousness of Italy’s traditional Christmas tables has now brought us to the kitchens of Sicily. Hen broth is a popular starter, followed by a world famous Sicilian classic: pasta con le sarde, a traditional dish that has been added to the list of Prodotti agro-alimentari tradizionali Italiani (traditional Italian agriculture and food products or PAT). Sarde are protagonist again for the follow up: stuffed with bread innards, pinenuts, orange peel, laurel and sultanas, they are called sarde a beccafico. One thing: of course, we are talking about fresh sardines here, not the tinned ones!
Mustazzoli are another delicious variation of typically southern Italian aromatic, sweet pastries that we have learned to love while exploring the culinary traditions of other southern regions. Check out how to make them:
If you want to truly have a sicilian feast, have your meal with beautiful sicilian wines like a Zibibbo, a Passito di Pantelleria or a Malvasia delle Lipari.
Last, but not certainly least, in our stomach-filling, happiness-inducing trip of Italy is Sardegna. There is more to Sardegna than its beautiful sea: try its glorious food to see what I mean. A true sardinian Christmas meal starts with homemade salumi (sausages and salami) aromatized with finocchietto, wild fennel. A traditional pasta dish is culigones de casu, which are ravioli filled with fresh pecorino, nutmeg, saffron and chard. Culigones are usually dressed with a fresh tomato sauce and more grated pecorino on top. Both agnello and capretto are traditionally consumed, especially roasted with vegetables.
And so it ends this brief, yet hopefully fulfilling voyage in the kitchens of Italy, all getting ready for Christmas. Maybe our shared, little trip inspired you, if you’re the one in charge of the Christmas dinner this year. Maybe, it brought back childhood memories, old snapshots of happiness shared with loved ones, especially if you are of Italian descent, or grew up in those parts of the US where Italians are plenty.
Whichever the result, I hope you enjoyed reading these pages as much as I enjoyed writing them. Now, if you will excuse me… I got a little peckish… I think it’s time to have a slice of panettone with my coffee!