Nobody can argue that food is one of the greatest Italy attractions. Each region has its distinctive flavors and we have spoken about Roman cuisine, specialties of Piedmont and Tuscany, chocolate of Modica here on the blog. One thing is to gorge on Italian food while visiting the country, but how about taking home some secrets of regional cooking of Bel Paese?
At Le Tre Vaselle resort a professional chef can teach you the nuts and bolts of Umbrian cuisine. During cooking lessons, you will make tasty local foods, from simple appetizers to rich meat dishes.
Umbria is a land-locked region, which is reflected in its traditional recipes that heavily rely on meat. The dense forests for centuries provided wild boar, pigeon and the prized black truffle for hearty Umbrian cooking. In many areas, meat is still roasted, just like in old days, on the spit, often over a ghiotta, a large pan with wild herbs. The fat collected in the ghiotta is used for making a fragrant sauce. The hilly fertile Umbrian terrain is perfect for growing famous Castelluccio lentils, spelt, barley, olives and grapes.
Cured meats from the town of Norcia are famous across the globe. Prociutto di Norcia has a distinctive woody flavor because the pigs are fed on acorns. Every scrap of pig is put to use here and the variety of traditional meat products will make your head spin: “barbozzo” is the pig cheek meat, a spicy local sausage with garlic called “capocollo”, “bedalucci” is made from smoked and broiled pig intestines, – the list of delicacies can go on.
Umbrian pasta dishes generally are simple, rustic and full of flavour. Hand-made pasta “ciriole”, “strangozzi”, “umbricelli “ and gnocchi are served with truffles, pig lard, tomatoes and generous amounts of delicious Umbrian olive oil.
Below you can find a recipe of a simple lentil soup from Umbria.
Serves 4 people
1 cup lentils
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
3 small carrots, chopped
200 g pancetta, cut
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp chili flakes
½ cup fresh herbs (thyme, sage, parsley), chopped
1 bay leaf
4 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp tomato puree
6 cups of water (or chicken broth)
Salt, pepper to taste
Heat the olive oil in a pot, add the onion, carrots, celery, pancetta, chili, garlic, herbs. Sauté for 10 minutes, stirring now and then. Add the lentils, bay leaf, water and tomato puree. Season to taste. Bring to boil, stirring occasionally. Cook over low heat for 45-50 minutes. Serve hot with a generous amount of olive oil.
Photos by: Emanuele Persiani, Anna Lebedeva.