October, 03 2019 ( Updated October, 03 2019)
Autumn dishes to whet the appetite…
As the glistening vineyards herald in the impending grape harvest, autumn in Italy is a time for culinary creation and celebration - with seasonal mushrooms, chestnuts, game and truffles championing the best regional dishes.
Feeling peckish? Seeking inspiration in the kitchen? Come and take a culinary journey with us!
As one would expect from this tantalizing region, Tuscany celebrates autumnal cuisine with full gusto. The mushroom season is in full swing from mid-August – mid October, so autumn really is the perfect time to enjoy sautéed wild mushroom bruschetta or a regional Pappardelle or Tagliatelli pasta dish, served with porcini mushrooms and washed down with an award-winning red. The annual, youthful ‘vino novella’ partners particularly well with roasted chestnuts. A fresh fruity wine harvested the same year, bottles of vino novella usually hit the local supermarket shelves from the end of October onwards.
As well as mushrooms, Tuscan dishes are synomyous with wild boar. Hunted here throughout October – late January, this richly praised game appears in many local dishes, including wild boar ragu and hearty wild boar stew. Other popular regional dishes in autumn include Taglioni pasta with white truffle, typical grape focaccia (the sweetness is off set with salt, rosemary and olive oil) and Fagioliall ‘Uccelletto’ (a popular dish of beans cooked with sage, in a light tomato sauce).
For those with a sweet tooth, the regional ‘Castagnaccio’ is a gluten-free cake made from chestnut flour and flavoured with pine nuts, walnuts, rasins and rosemary.“Delizioso!”
As well as the typical fish stews, mussel soup and pesto dishes, the coastal region of Liguria also celebrates the autumn season with a host of satisfying flavours and dishes.
Typical Ligurian and Genoese culinary staples such as Porcini sauce and Walnut sauce (made with typical regional cheese such as ‘Prescinseua’) complement a variety of tasty meat, gnocchi and pasta dishes.
A fresh batch of Ligurian Focaccia will always go down a storm, be it with a hearty stew, fried potatoes potatoes or onions. The aromatic herb versions are incredible!
Celebrating the autumnal pumpkin harvest, Liguria also makes a very tasty appetizer, known as Barbagioan pumpkin fritter.
Across the Lombardy region in autumn, the Mantua pumpkin features in a host of flavoursome dishes. Pumpkin tortelli is a typical must-eat dish, making its rounds to most of the annual regional 'Di Zucca in Zucca' food festivals (which run from September - December). Lombardy also celebrates the vibrantly coloured ingredient in regional gnocchi, tortellini, soup and stew dishes, whilst in the local Valtellina area, the comfort food dish ‘pizzoccheri’ provides a delicious accompaniment to those cosy evenings in.
On Lake Como, the authentic local ‘polentae misultin’ dish serves up ravishing risotto with 6-month aged salted and sun-dried lake fish, seasoned simply with parsley and garlic.
With over 60 varieties alone it’s easy to see how Lombardian cheeses infuse and flavour their way through many seasonal dishes. In particular, the rich regional favourites of rabiola, taleggio, grana padano, mascarpone and gorgonzola can be savoured in many wholesome autumn recipes.
To accompany your Lombardian dish, try one of the Valtellina red wines, or a regional sparkling ‘Franciacorta’. The seasonal sweet bites of choice across Lombardy have to be the traditional apple and pear pie or the crunchy tart, Sbrisolona.
Autumnal Piedmont dishes also promise to tantalise and satisfy the taste buds; with such favourites as Brasato al Barolo (braised beef stew in Barolo wine), Risotto with Barbera wine, potatoes with white truffles and stuffed Capon game dish on many local trattoria menus. Ideal for chillier evenings, a particularly wholesome dish here features beef sautéed in lard and butter, before being cooked on a low heat for a couple of hours then flavoured at the end with a ravishing Piedmont red, such as Barbera, Nebbiolo or Barolo. One thing’s for sure, in this UNESCO protected wine region it’s all about cooking with fine regional wine!