7 REGIONAL DISHES THAT YOU DON’T WANT TO MISS WHEN VISITING ITALY
What regions of Italy create the best food? The answer to this question is very tough, Italy has twenty regions, from North to South, mountain to sea. The boot-shaped country offers quite a large array of food that you can choose from. If you are lucky enough to travel all around the country, you’ll realise that there are specific dishes everywhere that you will fall in love with.
Some examples of the most famous? Campania and it’s thick crust Neapolitan pizza, Emilia-Romagna with lasagne and tortellini, Liguria is the home of Genovese Pesto, Tuscany serves up the best Florentine steak complimented by a glass of Chianti, and last but not least, Lazio’s pasta all’Amatriciana. But there are also many dishes you probably didn’t know existed, or never had the chance to try them. Below we’ve rounded up our favourite regional dishes.
Ready? Let’s start… Buon appetito!
1) Chickpea flat bread, Liguria
Chickpea flat bread, in Italian Farinata di ceci or Cecina, is made of chickpea flour, water, a bit of salt, black pepper and extra virgin olive oil. It’s a typical Genoese street food and it’s fairly cheap, healthy and delicious. What more do you need? Cut into triangular slices, it’s a quick way to curb your hunger when you’re walking down the streets. A little tip: tasty toppings (like vegetable, eggs, mushrooms and smoked salmon) make this dish one-of-a-kind, so let your imagination run free and add whatever you want. See, healthy food can taste good!
2) Mozzarella in Batter, Lazio
Everybody knows that bucatini with Amatriciana sauce is a symbol of Lazio’s regional cuisine, but there’s another dish that occupies a leader position in Rome’s specialities. Mozzarella in carrozza is made of very simple ingredients which are deep fried in oil with flour and beaten eggs. When you bite the croquette, you’ll find a small piece of bread and a perfect melted mozzarella. This dish is very easy and quick to cook. By using fresh Italian ingredients you can always create a flavourful speciality. Small, but brilliant!
3) Chocolate truffle tagliatelle, Umbria
Umbria is famous for chocolate from Perugia and the black truffle of Norcia, a precious and sought-after product of Italy, which is the ideal accompaniment to every kind of pasta, above all home made pasta. Tagliatelle and truffle are the right combination for creating a special dish, because the seductive aroma of truffle goes perfectly with this kind of pasta. But what if we try to see this traditional recipe with new eyes? To create a very tasty pasta we should add a special, not common ingredient. Take chocolate, for example, and put it in the pasta dough. No, it’s not a dessert recipe, it’s just a special way to create a new amazing flavour. Believe it or not, probably this will be the tastiest pasta you’ll ever try!
4) Pappa al pomodoro, Tuscany
It’s well known that Tuscans eat a lot of bread. There are many rustic recipes which include bread: you can find it in soups like Ribollita or in bread salads like Panzanella. There’s also a very easy thick soup made of bread and tomatoes: Pappa al pomodoro. Actually it’s not a creamy soup, it’s more like a porridge, because it’s very thick and chunky. This old, traditional recipe that came from peasants can be cooked by using fresh ingredients and Italian techniques. You will discover the taste of real food cooked the way your grandma would have done it.
5) Linguine with swordfish and tomato, Sicily
This is a classic dish of Sicily, the Southern region of Italy, full of incredible temples, beautiful landscapes and sparkling waters of the Mediterranean Sea. Sicily’s best recipes include tuna, cappers, couscous, tomato, olives, pistachios and citrus. But there’s also swordfish that is used in many traditional dishes: its delicate flavour tastes perfect when mixed with cherry tomatoes and linguine (this is the most adequate pasta for fish). It’s a very simple and quick dish to prepare, you just need the time to bring a pot of water to boiling temperature. Add parsley and chilli pepper on the top for extra taste and enjoy it with a local white wine.
6) Polenta with beef in wine, Valle d’Aosta
This typical hiking food is very far from Mediterranean diet, but it’s perfect to warm you up during cold winters in the mountains. The strong point of this dish is the beef marinated with Barolo wine, traditional wine of Northern Italy. This dish is not particularly difficult to make, but it requires a very long preparation. Nevertheless, in Valle d’Aosta and Piedmont, families prepare it almost daily, because it’s a comforting winter dish to be served in front of a fireplace. Braised beef in Barolo wine is usually served with a side of polenta. We’re sure that if you try this dish, you’ll be soaking up all the sauce with a bit of bread after you’ve finished!
7) Pumpkin ravioli, Emilia Romagna
Pumpkin ravioli, in Italian ‘Cappellacci‘, are the typical dish of Ferrara, a city in Emilia Romagna. Don’t judge this dish by the name, because the sweetness of pumpkin enclosed in home made pasta is simply awesome. You can serve them with ragù alla Bolognese (meat sauce) or you can just add some melted butter, sage and grated cheese (parmesan or pecorino). This delicious filled pasta is an alternative to ravioli. Actually, Cappellacci are bigger and round, but also elegant and rustic. And remember: the bigger the pasta, the more stuffing inside… and probably the more you’ll eat (or overeat)!
What do you think about this food selection? Are there any other Italian particular regional dishes that you’d add to the menu? We’re sure there are a few, but now it’s your turn… what is better than travelling and discovering a new meal every single day of your trip? Italy is one of the most visited countries of the world, with plenty of attractions worth seeing, but sometimes a traditional meal is all it takes to make your holiday one to remember forever. So, challenge yourselves, dig deep to find new foods and, above all, enjoy the journey!
Written by : Isotta Pieraccini