On my next culinary stroll around Italy, I’m looking at a very famous foodie region, Liguria. A coastal region of north-western Italy, Liguria has it all – beautiful beaches, picturesque towns, forested hills that grow wild with pine trees and the finest olive groves in Italy.
What I love most about the Ligurian cuisine is how smart it is, by taking advantage of the fertile earth that belongs to the region. The wealth of pines nuts and olives grown here mean that the pesto and olive oil produced are of a premium quality, in abundance and with DOP status. They also feature as a star ingredient in many local dishes.
Seafood is a cherished and a widely used ingredient as there is little livestock in the area. Many of these local seafood recipes have remained unchanged over time, maintaining their beautifully simple and authentic characteristics. Not only this, but the low meat and high vegetable elements in Ligurian cuisine make it virtually meat free and low in fat. A beautiful style of cooking for chefs tasked with nutritionally focussed recipe development. Here’s a look at some of my favourite signature Ligurian recipes:
Focaccia di Recco Cheese – stuffed Focaccia from Recco (Stracchino, Crescenza and Taleggio)
Farinata or Faina – a savoury flatbread made from chickpea flour
Gnocchi al Pesto – potato Gnocchi with basil pesto. A good hearty gnocchi can be found on virtually every menu in this area!
Fidelini – a local pasta cut long and thin, the perfect base for light sauces
Trenette – a form of flat, thin pasta similar to linguine
Ravioli di Pesce ai Fruitti di Mare – black and white fish filled ravioli
Trenette – a small, twisted type of pasta noodle that Ligurian pesto is paired with
Buridda – a strong tasting fish stew
Branzino – sea bass is regularly caught by local fishermen and is a delicacy served in restaurants
Ravieu de pescio – fish ravioli pasta
Limonetti – whitebait served as an antipasti or side
Fruit and veg
Torta di Pasqua – Easter pie of puff pastry filled with rich savoury shredded greens, onions and egg
Fiori di Zucchine Ripiene – stuffed zucchini flowers
Insalata alle Noci – walnut salad
Preggiobon – a collection of herbs which includes Swiss chard, dandelion, borage, chervil, wild hood and burnet
Grapevines – Liguria is a wine lover’s paradise, home to renowned grapes, such as Pinot Noir, Grenache and Doletto. Vino is up there as one of the wonderful Ligurian exports