Italy is one of the most famous and renowned countries in the world when it comes to food and cuisine, but are you really sure you know all its most typical and regional dishes? Here are five expert-proof dishes that you may never have heard of:
Born in the mountains of Abruzzo, arrosticini are one of my firm favourite foods. These delicious skewers are made with lamb meat, and traditionally cooked using a special long and thin grill called a ‘fornacella’ – shown below. The meat is usually separated by small pieces of fat to ensure every piece is juicy and tender. Arrosticini are often eaten with pieces of lightly toasted bread and rubbed over the surface to transfer the taste. Traditionally, they are served wrapped in foil in a special terracotta pot.
Moving towards the north of Italy, Pizzocheri is a hearty and filling pasta dish from Valtellina. The recipe consists of buckwheat pasta, potatoes, cabbage, garlic, and Grana Padano cheese. Perfect for the winter, this plate is the favourite of anyone who likes to visit the mountains. It is especially great after a long and exhausting day of skiing!
- Orrechiette con le cime di rapa
At the other end of the spectrum is this lovely, light pasta dish originating in Puglia. The ‘little ear’ pasta shape complements the broccoli rabe perfectly, as they are the perfect shape to scoop up both sauce and pieces of the vegetable. The dish is incredibly simple and easy to make but will satisfy your hunger cravings without leaving you full to the brim! Like any pasta dish, this is at its best when made with fresh pasta from Puglia, but that is of course not always possible!
- Pasta al pesto di pistacchi
One of my all-time favourite meals I have ever tried in Italy has to be pasta with pistachio pesto from Sicily. I usually eat this dish with pancetta and conchigliette, but it can be made with anything from fusilli to linguine. Many people also like to add fresh ricotta for an extra creamy taste – it’s up to you! This meal is perfect for when you don’t have much time to cook, or if you’re looking for something a little different to the classic pesto.
This is one of the lesser-known dishes I have tried since moving here but remains one of my absolute favourites. Timballo is extremely similar to lasagna, but can be made with pasta, rice, or potatoes. Varieties differ depending on the region, and it’s difficult to choose a preference! The Abruzzese timballo uses lasagna sheets and beef and is cooked until it is crispy on top and soft in the middle. The Neapolitan version, however, is usually made with macaroni and béchamel sauce. Whichever one you choose, you’re in for a treat!