5 Dishes You Have To Try In Tuscany

Thursday, January 21, 2016

5 Dishes You Have To Try In Tuscany

Posted by Dympna Docherty (22/01/2016)

Italy is known for it’s delicious cuisine, most people associate Italian food with pizza and pasta. However, Italian food is so much more than this. It’s not until you visit specific regions that you appreciate real Italian delicacies. Tuscany is also celebrated for its cuisine, people in this region take immense pride in their food.

Tuscan food is based around fresh local ingredients, and dishes are often centred around what’s in season. Cooking here is simple yet full of taste and freshness. The local people will throw together meals based on what they find at the local market. Dishes are often filly and wholesome, and dishes are always served with bread baked within the region.

Tuscany has a long history of serving delicious foods,  and there is often a focus on simplicity, favouring fresh quality ingredients over complex sauces and seasoning. The flavours in the dishes speak for themselves and a lot of the food is homegrown. If you are travelling to Tuscany, here are some of the classic, traditional dishes you have to try.

1. Panzanella
You will find this dish in most of the restaurants in Tuscany. It’s basically a bread salad which is made with unsalted bread, red onions, cucumber tomatoes, basil, vinegar,salt and lots of olive oil. Italians don’t like to throw bread away so they use leftovers and slightly stale bread to make this simple yet delicious salad. It’s an ideal summer dish that’s perfect for lunch or a light dinner.

2. Papa al pomodoro
This is a real Tuscan favourite that’s very comforting. It’s a very thick bread and tomato soup made with bread, lots of tomatoes, basil leaves and olive oil. You might find the ingredients used and the taste of this dish varies from town to town. Despite it being a soup, you will find it quite filling and satisfying. You can have this dish as a start or a light lunch and it can be a great winter warmer.

3. Bistecca Fiorentina
This is the dish that everyone wants to try when they visit Tuscany. It’s specific to this region in Italy because of the way it is cooked and where the steak comes from. It’s a very large T-bone steak that is extremely thick.  Local butchers are extremely proud of this steak and say it is different from the steaks served in all other regions.

It’s so big that it is usually split between a couple or several people. It comes from a specific breed of cow, the Chianina and your waiter will probably bring it out before it's cooked to show you the size. The steak is normally served rare.  A lot of restaurants serve this dish although it's worth finding a top quality restaurant as this dish can vary in taste and quality. It’s usually served with cooked beans and potatoes.

4.  Pappardelle Alla Lepre
You have to try some freshly made pasta whilst on holiday in Italy, it’s the best place in the world to eat homemade pasta. One of the more popular pasta dishes in the Tuscany region is Pappardelle, which is a type of pasta that is much like spaghetti, but it is much thicker and is made with egg. Pappardelle Alla Lepre is serve with a hare sauce and hare that’s cooked for a long time. This dish can also be served with boar sauce instead of hare if you fancy trying something different.

5. Cacciucco
Finally, you should also try Cacciucco, which is a traditional fish stew. This dish originally used to be made from the leftover fish from a catch. The fisherman would use the fish they couldn’t sell to make a fresh fish stew.

Nowadays the recipe has been refined to include more expensive varieties of fish such as mussels, prawns and various shellfish instead of ‘bottom of the boat’ fish such as octopus and squid. It usually contains around five different types of fish and contains garlic, sage, chillies, wine and tomatoes.

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