Tuscany Food & Recipes

This is an excerpt from the book “Florence and Tuscany

Bistecca alla fiorentina

A vacation in Tuscany usually starts by enjoying its gorgeous landscape and certainly finishes eating at a table. A great love for good food is the ‘DNA character’ of the local people also because there is such a wide range of typical dishes to choose from. The basic ingredients besides good olive oil are other products of the earth such as cabbage, beans and other vegetables which along with bread make up ribollita, delicious if seasoned with chopped onion.

Hardened bread is also the main ingredient to prepare pappa col pomodoro which also requires tomatoes (typical ribbed kind) and herbs. Bread is again the basic ingredient of panzanella , a fine substitute for pasta in summer. Dark cabbage soup, instead, is more suitable as a winter first course.

Empolese-Valdelsa, around San MIniato, is a game land, so no-one should leave it without tasting a game dish. There are so many of them and sometimes the same game is prepared in different ways from one town to another. Particularly appreciated in the Certaldo area is the woodcock cooked in a strong and sweet sauce, that is, with spices and chocolate. In Montaione there are restaurants which serve fagiano alla montaionese (pheasant in the Montaione mode). Hare and wildboar meat makes tasty dishes cooked such as stew with olives in which the pappardelle pasta is cooked: a real treat! The presence of a marsh near Fuchecchio makes it possible to offer typical game and fish dishes.

In summer try ranocchio fritto (fried frogs) and chiocciole in umido (stewed snails). More difficolt to find in restaurants is risotto con le tinche (rice with tench). Then we should talk of the incomparable cold cuts of different salted pork products typical of this area: prosciutto (more salty than the “parma” one), mallegato (pancake made with pig’s blood and enriched with raisins), wild boar sausages, finocchiona (a fennel flavored salame) and soppressata (a wonderful big salame made with the head meat of pork).

Among the vegetables zolfino beans are a special treat almost impossible to find which is now being re-introduced by local restaurants, either boiled, with pasta or as a cream. Among the 303 traditional products recorded by Arsia (Regional Department for Agricultural Development and Research) there are the artichokes from Empoli and San Miniato, famous for being tender and compact and for not having thorns. As for desserts, there are delicious biscuits such as thecantuccini made especially to be dipped into the vin santo and many others baked on different occasions of the year: the zuccherini which one may taste in Fucecchio at the Carnival, the schiacciata di Pasqua, an Easter cake typical of the whole area and castagnaccio, a pie made with chestnut flour and pinenuts, very popular in autumn.

….We have forgotten to talk of the fish cuisine of the coast, that is another interesting story… and about… and also of… too much to say. Come over to Tuscany and enjoy your meals!

Olives have been cultivated on the rolling Tuscan hills since the seventh century B.C., so it’s no wonder that extra virgin Tuscan olive oils an emblem of the culture of this area in the heart of Italy. With its intense green-to-gold color and fruity aroma of almonds, artichokes and mature fruit, this olive oil is one of the finest and most valued in Italy. To fully appreciate the sweet, rounded flavor of Tuscan oil, pour it onto a slice of Tuscan bread that has been lightly toasted and rubbed with garlic (the classic bruschetta).

To the beef connoisseur, few cuts of meat are as exceptional as those from the cattle raised in Tuscany’s Chianna valley.  These white-hided cattle produce large cuts of meat (including the huge T-bone steaks known as bistecca alla fiorentina), which is low in fat, remarkably flavorful, and so tender that, traditionally, it requires only a short cooking time over a glowing red-hot charcoal fire, with just a sprinkling of salt.

It literally means “strong bread,” but Italian lovers of sweets know panforte as the famous confectionery of the colorful city of Siena, home to the annual Palio horse races. Legend has it that this delightful concoction of nuts, candied lemon and orange peel, flour, sugar, honey, and spices, originated in the 13th century and was once believed to be an aphrodisiac. Today, panforte is enjoyed all over Italy, especially during the Christmas season.

Vin Santo (“holy wine”) is a soft, medium-dry-to-sweet dessert wine, made from grapes that have been hung up to dry and pressed only when they are almost completely transformed into raisins.  It takes two to six years for the resulting wine to mature, during which time it takes on rich flavors of nuts, apricots, honey, and spices. After a meal, Tuscans like to dip the local hard almond cookies, biscotti di Pratoor cantuccini, in small glasses of Vin Santo.

Tuscany typical food include:

Acquacotta: cooked water, soup of vegetables and herbs, often salt pork, mushrooms and other ingredients, depending on the season.
Baccala’ alla fiorentina: salt cod fried and then stewed with tomatoes, onions, garlic.
Cibreo: classic Florentine chicken stew includes giblets, embryonic eggs and cockscombs. 
Fagioli all’Ucceletto:
 with beans flavoured with olive oil, garlic, tomatoes and sage.
Gramugia: soup of fava beans, artichokes, peas and asparagus, an ancient recipe of Lucca.
Pici: a type of thick, handmade large-size spaghetti, served with a rich sauce.
The San Miniato Truffle
Trippa alla fiorentina: tripe with tomatoes, broth, wine, herbs and grated Parmigiano Reggiano„served on a slice of bread at Florence’s markets as lampredotto.

    Tuscany Recipes:

Arista di maiale con cannellini – Pork Loin with Cannellini Beans
Bistecca alla fiorentina – Broiled T-bone Steak
Bruschetta – Garlic Bread
Caciucco alla livornese – Fish Stew Livornese Style
Caciucco alla Viareggina – Fish Stew Viareggio Style
Cannellini al fiasco – Cannellini Beans Stewed in a Flask
Castagnaccio – Chestnut Crust
Cieche fritte – Fried Baby Eels
Cinghiale all’agrodolce – Wild Boar in Sweet and Sour Sauce
Cinghiale all’Etrusca – Wild boar Etruscan style
Crostini toscani
Gamberi e cannellini alla toscana – Shrimp with Cannellini Beans
Lepre alle erbe in stile etrusco – Hare with herbs etruscan style
Panforte di Siena – Siena Fruit Cake
Panzanella or Pan Molle – Bread and Vegetable Salad
Pappa al pomodoro – Tomato and Bread Soup
Pappardelle alla lepre – Pappardelle in here sauce
Porchetta – Roast Suckling Pig
Ribollita – Bean Soup Baked with Bread
Salsa all’arancia – Orange Sauce
Scottiglia – Mixed Meat Stew
Triglie alla livornese – Red or White Mullets Livornese Style
Zuccotto – Chocolate and Curacao Chilled Cream
Zuppa di pesce (Caciucco alla Livornese) – Fish stew

End of the excerpt from the book “Florence and Tuscany“. Get the entire content of the book free from advertising.