The Flavours of Southern Italy
Discover the Flavours of Southern Italy
Southern Italy, including the island of Sicily, is by most accounts poorer than its central and northern neighbours, although those who have ventured only to Campania’s popular Amalfi Coast and the small island of Capri, off its shores, might disagree. In general, the cuisine of the south is based on fresh, simply prepared dishes with varying amounts of seafood, vegetables or meat, depending on the particular region the dish originates from.
Puglia & Abruzzo:
Style: Rustic and comforting, with simple but flavourful dishes.
Classic Ingredients: Tomatoes, fennel, eggplant, peppers, lamb
Montepulciano D’Abruzzo: Medium to full-bodied reds with ample fruit flavours and soft, easy to drink textures. Top wines can be quite dry and powerful.
Negroamaro: Medium-bodied, rustic and slightly earthy reds, often packaged under the Salice Salentino appellation. A great match to hearty, Italian-inspired vegetarian fare.
Style: Fresh and elegant, with fresh seafood, salads and olive oil-based pasta featuring prominently. Also home to classic, thin-crust, Napoles-style pizza.
Classic Ingredients: Marzano tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil, oregano, lemons, olive oil, seafood such as squid and octopus to name just a couple.
Fiano – Arguably the finest whites of Campania are made from Fiano and specifically from the Fiano di Avellino DOCG. The varietal has been planted in Campania for millenia. Fresh, crisp, citrusy, floral and sometimes possessing a hazelnut character.
Greco – Best come from the vulcanico soils of the Greco di Tufo DOCG, and possess a mineral character and liveliness.
Falanghina – an ancient grape variety that produces wine with fresh aromas (apple, pear) and a crisp palate.
Aglianico – one of Italy’s best grapes. It produces hearty, complex very full-bodied red wines with spice, dark fruit and gamey flavours. A must with lamb or game.
Sicilian Style Caponata
pounds Japanese eggplants, chopped
1/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 large onion, peeled, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 bunch celery, chopped
4 plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded, diced
¾ cup green olives, pitted, sliced
1 125-ml jar capers
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
Parsley for garnish
1 loaf rustic Italian bread, sliced, toasted
1 lb white fish such as cod, cooked, cube
Directions: Slice the eggplant and place in a colander. Liberally salt the eggplant and set aside for an hour. Rinse the eggplant with cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Place a sauté pan over medium heat and add 1/6 cup of olive oil. Sauté the eggplant until soft; reserve. Place a large sauté pan over medium-low heat; add 2 tbsp of the olive oil and the onion. Sauté until the onion is soft. Add the garlic and continue to sauté until the garlic is fragrant; approximately 30 seconds. Add the celery and sauté for a further 5-7 minutes. Add the reserved eggplant and tomatoes and sauté for another 4-5 minutes.Add the green olives, capers (including a tablespoon of the caper juice) and red wine vinegar; stir. Remove from pan and place in a bowl. Let stand for an hour before serving to let the flavours incorporate. Garnish with a few sprigs of parsley and serve accompanied with slices of toasted bread and cubes of white fish.
Caprese Salad (Campania)
6 vine ripened tomatoes, sliced
1 340 g fresh mozzarella ball, torn
1 ½ cups basil, torn
¼ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/6 cup balsamic vinegar
1 small red onion, sliced
Sea salt & cracked pepper, to taste
Directions: Divide the sliced tomatoes amongst six dishes. Top each plate with equal amounts of mozzarella and basil. Drizzle the tomatoes with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Top with sliced of red onion. Season with sea salt and cracked pepper.
Pasta with Lamb Ragu
4 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 celery stalk, sliced
1 carrot, peeled, chopped
1/6 cup milk
3/4 lb ground lamb
1 12-oz can tomato paste
2 tbsp water
Grated Pecorino or Parmesan (Parmigiano Reggiano preferred)
250 g Parpadelle
Directions: Place a pan over low heat; add the olive oil. Add the onions, celery and carrot and sauté until soft. Add the milk and let simmer for 2-3 minutes. Add the ground meat and brown. Stir with a wooden spoon to break up the meat. Drain excess oil. Add the tomato paste and water and simmer over low heat for 2 hours. Remove the sauce from the heat and let cool. Cook pasta according to manufacturer’s instructions. Toss the pasta.