July 27, 2017
Sometimes, when we think of Italian food, the heavy, thick, rich “US version” comes to mind. Often enough, this is simply the most basic Italian cuisine, as many of us aren’t familiar with the bounty of other dishes that come from the 20 — yes 20! — separate regions in Italy. Italian cooking is so much more than lasagna, carbonara and manicotti. Summer savories from Tuscany are the perfect example. Focused on seasonal vegetables, fresh olive oil, and local meats, grains and pastas, the summer side of Tuscan cooking is one to be savored. And by the way, we are creating a fabulous new Tuscany trip for 2018. Contact Adagio if you’d like to know more!
Staples like these are perfect for now:
Simple Summer Meal: Tuscany – we’ve picked some winning recipes
Panzanella (antipasto – a word that’s carried over quite well to our language)
Traditional Recipe: http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2015/09/classic-panzanella-salad-recipe.html
Also called Panmolle, this light summer salad is made with pieces of bread and local tomatoes for a zingy, fresh taste. Soak that stale bread in olive oil and vinegar, then toss with basil and onions. Until the 20th century, it was onion-heavy, but more delicate modern tastes have rendered this recent adaptation a favorite. First mentioned during the 16th century on toast, it is now popular all over central Italy.
Vellutata di ceci (primo – Italian for “first” — of course we’re in Italy so it’s not really the first course! There are often so many….)
For any occasion, this cold soup is made with fresh veggies and can be topped with shrimp or other local produce. Normally, it is served with or made with chickpeas, and is great in summer or winter. With fresh fish, herbs, and legumes, this dish has an energetic taste almost everyone enjoys.
Bistecca alla Fiorentina (main/secondo – Italian for “second” — well okay we know it’s way down the line from second but just humor them)
One of the most popular dishes in Tuscany, Bistecca alla Fiorentina is made with the strip loin and fillet of the cow, and each piece averages around a kilo (2.2 pounds). In restaurants, steak is offered by the “etto”, or 4 ounce measurements. With only a few ingredients, all must be of top quality. Typically in Italy this is seared on a hot cast iron grill and served “al sangue” (literally “bloody” — super rare). Italians cringe when we ask for anything more than medium-rare.
Zolfini beans (side/contorno – you can show off now that you know what this means)
With a mild flavor and thin skin, these heritage beans cook up quickly with a velvety texture that’s highly prized, and are the perfect foil for anything you throw in the pot with them. Used most often as a side dish with Bistecca alla Fiorentina, they are served with local olive oil and fresh bread. About 300 tons of these beans are produced every year. They are fickle due to the need for drainage, and grow best on slopes in mild climes.