Campania Food & Recipes

This is an excerpt from the book “The Amalfi Coast“.

Pizza Margherita – Photo © David Bishop
Pizza Margherita – Photo © David Bishop

The fertile volcanic soil of Campania combines with a perfect climate to produce the best fruit and vegetables in Italy. The pomodoro San Marzano is famous worldwide. The Romans were quick to appreciate the richness of the Soil, the beauty of the landscape, the dry soft climate and the warmth of the inhabitants. Campania became their vast vegetable garden and their orchard, as well as the playground of the wealthy.

On the whole the local cooking is quick and brief. This is exemplified in the fritto misto  a dish aptly described in Neapolitan dialect by the expression frienno magnanno, meaning frying and eating. The food must be eaten straight after it comes out of the frying pan.

The cheese which immediately comes to mind when speaking of Naples is mozzarella, which, in union with the tomato, has found its apotheosis in the pizza. But many other cheeses are produced in Campania, both from cow’s and sheep’s milk: scamorzaprovolonecaciocavallo and pecorino, all of which can be fresh or aged and are equally excellent. They are an everyday component of a Neapolitan meal, as is the sublime local fruit. It is only on special occasions that sweets arrive at the table, usually rich and elaborate, reminiscent of Arab cooking, and related to religious feasts.
From: Gastronomy of Italy Anna Del Conte Prentice Hall Press

Specialty Foods of Campania

Among the Campania food, Mozzarella di bufala Campana, or buffalo mozzarella, is the most celebrated and prized of mozzarella cheeses, made exclusively from whole buffalo milk. A cheese of very ancient origin, mozzarella takes its name from a very special part of the production cycle, when the curd, after being stretched, is mozzata (an Italian term meaning “lopped off”) to obtain pieces of a suitable size. Italian buffalo have always been concentrated in the Southern region of Campania; most of the herds are in the province of Caserta. The mozzarella production chain is so inextricably tied to this area that buffalo mozzarella of the Campania region obtained the DOP (Denominazione dOrigine Protetta -Protected Designation of Origin) mark in 1996, guaranteeing maximum quality for the consumer.

Born in Naples more than 300 years ago, pizza is often thought of as “genuine Italian food” by non-Italians, but this beloved food was little known in Italy (outside of Naples) until the 1970s. Pizza came to the United States early in the 20th century during the great migration of Italians from Southern Italy.

Today, pizza is enormously popular the world over, even if it sometimes hardly resembles the authentic Neapolitan dish. To preserve the original Campania food heritage, in 2004, Italy drew up a series of rules that must be followed to make a true Neapolitan pizza: the dough must rise for at least six hours and must be kneaded and shaped by hand; the pizza must be round and no more than 13.7 inches in diameter; and it must be cooked in a wood-fired oven. And only three versions are permitted: Marinara with garlic and oregano; Margherita with basil, tomatoes and cheese from the southern Apennine mountains; and the “Extra Margherita” which must include buffalo mozzarella from the Campania region.

When is a lemon more than just a lemon? When it’s a Sorrento Ovale, also known as the Massa Lubrense lemon, which is produced and sold under the protection of the European Union. This high quality, highly perfumed medium-to-large fruit is identified by its sweet, juicy flesh and few seeds. Even the cultivation of this special Campania food is special: the precious fruit is hand-picked to prevent it falling to the ground, and is typically ripened under pagliarelle, straw mats attached to wooden poles (preferably made of chestnut), which help protect it from the elements. This method also allows for longer ripening times, making the lemons available for a longer season.

The most famous Campania food product made from Sorrento lemons is limoncello (orlimunciel, as the Campanians call it), a delicious liqueur that is the result of an infusion of lemon peel in the purest alcohol. This traditional recipe has been handed down through generations. The herbal liqueur strega, which is enjoyed throughout Italy, is produced in the capital town of Benevento from a secret recipe that has been closely guarded by the Alberti family for almost 140 years.

Campania Recipes

Typical Campania food includes:
Baccala’ alla napoletana:
 salt cod with tomato, black olives, raisins, pine nuts, capers, garlic.
Cianfotta: peppers, eggplants, zucchini, onions and basil stewed in olive oil and served cold.
Coniglio all’ischitana: rabbit braised with tomatoes, rosemary, basil and white wine Ischia style. 
Coviglie al caffe’:
 coffee mousse topped with toasted beans and whipped cream.
Coviglie al cioccolato: is the chocolate version served with a candied cherry.
Empepata di cozze: mussels cooked in their juice with lemon, parsley and black pepper.
Peperoni imbottiti: red and yellow bell peppers stuffed with anchovies, black olives, capers, garlic, breadcrumbs. 
Polpi affogati:
 baby octopus “drowned” in boiling salt water, then sauteed with olive oil, tomatoes and hot peppers.
Spaghetti alla puttanesca: “strumpet style” with tomato sauce, black olives, capers, anchovies, garlic, chili pepper–specialty of Ischia.
Taralli: ring-shaped biscuits baked with almonds and lard, or sometimes fennel seeds; the sweet types with vanilla, cinnamon and liqueur are called tarallucci dolci.
Zeppole di San Giuseppe: puffy pastry fritters sometimes with a creamy filling.
Ziti ripieni: large pasta tubes stuffed with chopped pork and salame, onion, raw eggs and caciocavallo cheese.
Zuppa di cozze: mussels in a soup of tomatoes, white wine, parsley and hot peppers.

Campania Recipes:
Alici in tortiera – Moist-Baked Anchovies
Baba’ al rum – Baba’ with Rum
Braciole di maiale alla napoletanaPork Loin with Garlic
Carne alla pizzaiola – Beef Pizzaiola
Casatiello – Neapolitan Lard Bread
Insalata di cavolfiore con sottaceti – Caulifolwer Salad with Pickles
Mozzarella in carrozza – Mozzarella Fried in Bread
Parmigiana di melanzane – Eggplants Parmigiana
Pasta ‘ncasciata – Baked Rigatoni with Eggplant
Pasta per pizza – Pizza Dough (Basic Recipe)
Pastiera napoletana – Easter Cheese and Grain Pie
Penne campane con fagiolini e pomodori secchi – Penne with beans and dry tomatoes
Penne campane con polpettine di carne – Penne with meat Balls
Penne napoletane alla Vesuviana – Neapolitanean Penne
Penne vegetariane – Vegetarian Penne
Pizza Margherita – Pizza with Mozzarella and Tomatoes
Pizza marinara – Pizza with Tomato, Garlic and Oregano
Pizza napoletana – Neapolitan Pizza
Polipo alla Luciana – Octopus alla Luciana
Ragu’ Genovese – Braised Onion and Beef Sauce
Ragu’ Napoletano – Neapolitan Ragu’
Sartu’ di riso – Rice Sartu’
Sfogliatella riccia – Shell-shaped Flaky Ricotta Pastries
Strangolapreti – Potato and Flour Neapolitan Gnocchi
Strufoli – Honey Balls
Suppli’ di riso – Rice Suppli’