Tuscan cuisine: typical traditional dishes
Tuscany is among the best known regions of Italy in the world, thanks to its artistic vein and the sense of inspiration it manages to instill in anyone who visits it. The landscape that the countryside offers is also very popular, not to mention the many towns with Renaissance features that offer a breathtaking atmosphere. This is what awaits tourists visiting Tuscany, but there is another aspect that should not be underestimated: the cuisine. Yes, because every self-respecting holiday has the moment of relaxation, that of the visit and that of good food. Today we want to catapult you on an imaginary table, on which the typical dishes of this wonderful region are present, so as to offer a general overview of the foods that must absolutely be tried, in case you are on holiday in Tuscany. From first courses, to desserts, from classic to vegetarian cuisine, behind the Tuscan stoves there is something for all tastes and, of course, you will not be disappointed or, even worse, with an empty stomach.
The list of typical Tuscan dishes has the moral obligation to start with the queen of all meats: the Florentine steak. Her fame precedes her, to the point that when ordering, it is not even necessary to call her with her suit, but only with Florentine. There are two basic requirements for an excellent Florentine steak: an excellent cut of meat and strictly rare cooking. The preparation is very simple, all you have to do is put the steak on the grill and cook on the grill, without flame and without piercing the meat to let the cooked fat escape. Five minutes on each side are enough, adding salt first on one side and then on the other.
This dish triggers the parochialism of every Tuscan and is, together with the aforementioned Florentine steak, the emblem of the Tuscan cooker. We apologize to all Tuscans, but we will mention only the two main variants, namely the cacciucco alla viareggina and alla livornese.
The cacciucco is a fish soup and it is not at all easy to proceed with the preparation of this dish. The fish used in the preparation of this soup is defined as poor, that is crustaceans and molluscs of all kinds, from cuttlefish, octopus and cicadas. The difficulty lies in cooking, as they must all be cooked in the same pan, but each at different times. Once cooked, the dish should be served together with bread cooked in the form of bruschetta and tomato sauce; the ideal is to accompany it with a glass of red wine.
Pappa al pomodoro
From Gianburrasca’s Diary to the voice of the great Rita Pavone, pappa al pomodoro has entered the homes of all Italians, but it is a typical dish of the Tuscan tradition. As simple as it is good, pappa al pomodoro was born in a historical context in which there was a need to minimize food waste. Three simple ingredients that, when combined, give a unique flavor: stale bread; tomato and extra virgin olive oil. The ideal is to taste the tomato soup with salt-free bread, as in the Tuscan tradition, and serve a dish with the basic ingredients, perhaps adding garlic, basil and a pinch of chilli. Simple, but mouth-watering.
Let’s go back to talking about meat-based meals. The sandwich, in Tuscany, has an undisputed king: the sandwich with lampredotto. Typical of Florentine culture, also thanks to the kiosks that serve it, the sandwich with lampredotto is a dish for those who are not afraid of strong flavors. It involves cooking the abomasum, that is one of the stomachs of cattle, in water, together with the tomato, onion, celery and parsley. Once cooked, it should be placed in a sandwich and enjoyed together with some green sauce.
Lardo di Colonnata
To stay on the subject of dish to combine with bread or sandwiches, let’s talk about the Lardo di Colonnata. Produced in the province of Massa Carrara, this salami is PGI, a protected geographical indication and is left to mature in basins of Carrara marble. Reducing the tasting of Lardo di Colonnata to bread alone would be too reductive for a product that also goes well with vegetables, legumes and, for the more daring, even with fish. The maturation of lard is true art and poetry and also hides a veil of mystery. Only the positioning inside the marble basins is known, after which the salami is flavored with garlic, cloves, pepper, rosemary, cinnamon and coriander.
Returning to vegetarian dishes, it is a must to mention the Tuscan soup par excellence: the ribollita. Dish to be served in winter, as it is served very hot, its main ingredient is black cabbage, a vegetable that grows in winter. Typical of the peasant tradition, it is a dish made up of simple ingredients, but with a high nutritional value. In addition to black cabbage, ribollita is also prepared with beans, onions and carrots. As the name suggests, the dish is cooked at first, and then boiled. At the end of cooking, extra virgin olive oil and fresh onion are added to the dish, all accompanied by bread.
Let’s get to the desserts. Yes, because Tuscan cuisine does not miss anything.
An autumnal dessert, due to its main ingredient, is castagnaccio. As the name indicates, it is made with chestnut flour and pine nuts, rosemary and raisins and, very often, candied orange peel are added to the preparation.
Cake with bischeri
Born in the area of Pisa and its province, the shortcrust pastry and a filling rich in sweetness give life to an exquisite cake, typical of the Tuscan tradition: the Torta co ‘bischeri. The name is given by the folds of the edges that are created with the shortcrust pastry; the filling is made up of chocolate, boiled rice, Tuscan liqueur, fresh pine nuts, candied fruit and peel, eggs, raisins and a touch of nutmeg. Tradition has it that this cake was served to pilgrims traveling to Pontasserchio, in the province of Pisa, to venerate the Crucifix of the Miracle.