This month our travel section takes you on a journey through Bella Italia, but if you can’t make the trip you can still get the vibe in your own kitchen with these recipes from Lazio and Lombardy.
The hills of this region are rich and fertile making it ideal for growing the vegetables which make up a good part of the area’s cuisine. Olive oil and garlic also figure strongly as does chunky pasta. The popular arrabbiata sauce also comes from Lazio, the name means angry and is derived from the flakes of hot pepperoncino it contains.
True comfort food loved the world over and synonymous with this region of Italy, this dish is ridiculously easy to cook and needs only a handful of ingredients to create a meal which is both tasty and impressive.
• 250g spaghetti
• 2 large eggs
• Approx 100g Parmesan grated
• 4 slices beef bacon, diced
• 4 cloves garlic, minced
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
• 2tbsp fresh parsley leaves chopped
• Cook the pasta in boiling salted water. Drain well and keep around 150ml of the water.
• Whisk together the eggs and Parmesan and set aside.
• Fry the bacon until crisp, reserve the excess fat, stir in the garlic and reduce the heat, at this stage you can add some chopped onions if desired.
• Quickly stir in the pasta and egg mixture, season to taste and add the reserved water a little at a time until you reach your favoured consistency – you can substitute white grape if preferred.
• Serve immediately, garnished with parsley, if desired.
Coming from the north of the country, the cuisine of the Lombard region has more in common with that of its Austrian neighbour than the rest of Italy. Dishes are often rice or maize based and risotto is a regional favourite. The cuisine is also much more meat rich than in the central and southern regions but, in true Italian style, dishes always encourage the big-table family dining style which is still so popular across the country.
Possibly one of the region’s most famous dishes is a Milanese speciality of cross-cut veal shanks braised with vegetables, white grape and broth. Done well, the meat, though a cheap cut which is prone to toughness, should be tender enough to simply fall off the bone and you should be able to scoop the marrow from the middle.
• 1.5kg veal shanks
• 2tbsp flour
• 2 onions, finely chopped
• 1 large carrot, peeled and finely chopped
• 2 celery sticks, finely chopped
• 2 garlic cloves, crushed
• 250ml beef stock (you can use a stock cube)
• 250ml white grape (optional but does add flavour)
• Large can of chopped tomatoes
• 1 tbsp olive oil
• Salt and pepper to taste
• Dust the veal shanks lightly with flour, heat the oil in a large pan, add the veal and brown on both sides. Remove the veal from the pan and keep warm.
• Add garlic and onions to the pan and cook until the onions are soft, return the veal to the pan, add in the vegetables and grape and simmer for 10 minutes.
• Add the tomatoes and beef stock, cover and simmer over a low heat for around an hour and a half basting the meat regularly.
• Top with gremolata made by combining parsley, lemon rind and garlic.