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A look at the Tuscan wine region

One of the most romantic, historically rich, and fantasized-about regions in Europe, Tuscany, on Italy's north-central western coast, also produces some of the best and most famous red wines in the world, notably chianti, brunello di Montalcino, and the so-called super-Tuscans. The predominant red-wine grape is sangiovese, which exists under different names and in some clonal variety around the region, but cabernet sauvignon, merlot, syrah, and other varieties are also grown, as are lesser-known traditional grapes such as canaiolo, mammolo, and malvasia nera. The main white-wine grape is trebbiano, but others include malvasia, vermentino, and vernaccia (the last of these responsible for the well-regarded wines of San Gimignano). "Super-Tuscans," an unofficial name with no official standing, have gained cult status around the world; these are wines made in the region but with unorthodox blends of grapes, often combining sangiovese with cabernet sauvignon or merlot, or avoiding the sangiovese altogether. The pioneer in this area was Piero Antinori, who produced a wine called Tignanello, a blend of sangiovese and cabernet sauvignon with a touch of malvasia (a white grape), in 1971. By the 1975 vintage, all traces of white grapes had disappeared. Antinori's uncle, the Marchese Mario Incisa della Rocchetta, released his own bordeaux-style Sassicaia, from the 1968 vintage, in 1971. Soon many other producers were following suit and super-Tuscans gained worldwide popularity. The wines of the Chianti region are medium-rich and elegant, with a bouquet variously described as suggesting violets or cherries. Brunello di Montalcino is a dark, rich, extracted red that benefits from aging; rosso di Montalcino may be made from younger vines or simply not aged as long, but is less expensive and brighter in flavor. The winemakers of the Carmignano region had been blending cabernet sauvignon with sangiovese long before the advent of the super-Tuscans, and produce a firm, attractively fruity wine. Vino nobile di Montepulciano is rich and smooth. Morellino di Scansano is aromatic and well-rounded. The Maremma region, in southern coastal Tuscany, has become increasingly important for its super-Tuscans, and produces pleasant white wines from a variety of grapes, including chardonnay, trebbiano, and grechetto. Vin santo (holy wine) is a Tuscan dessert wine made primarily from trebbiano and malvasia, with the grapes concentrated in flavor and sweetness by being hung from racks or dried on straw palettes. It is considered the ideal accompaniment to biscotti.

Top 10 foods to try in Tuscany

Located in the central region of Italy, Tuscany boasts stunning countryside, a beautiful coastline and culture aplenty in its capital city, Florence. And that's before you get to the food.

Travellers are advised to read the FCO travel advice at for the country they are travelling to.

Italian food is celebrated the world over but it’s when you drill down into regional cuisine that it all gets really exciting. We asked Tuscany-based food writer Giulia Scarpaleggia to talk us through the unique food of this Italian region.

Tuscan Recipes That Will Transport You to Chianti

If your dream of Tuscany is anything like ours, it probably features long lunches under leafy trees in a vineyard. We nibble on olives, crostini, and slices of pecorino as the sun glints, and then slowly, slowly dips behind castle-topped hills, beaming its golden light upon us. We drink Chianti and share platters of grilled meats and seasonal salads with plenty of fresh Tuscan bread. All of that delicious food and drink comes with a side of laughter and lively conversation.

But this central Italian region is not just a summertime fantasyland in the fall chestnuts are roasting, and we sample artisanal salami. We sip local wines and dine on ragu spooned over polenta or served with hand-rolled pappardelle. Frugality rules in Tuscan food, so when chickens are being spit roasted, the chicken livers are cooked into a savory topping for crostini. In winter we appreciate more rugged local treats: whole grains like farro, dark leafy greens robust soups and stews. All peasant cooking, created from necessity: turning what was left in the larder into mainstays like the soup called ribollita, which might be Tuscany's crowning achievement.

Within the dishes of Tuscany is the key to a lifestyle to which we aspire: We should take what it can teach us&mdashusing excellent ingredients in simple preparations slowing down and enjoying our surroundings&mdashand bring it on home in our suitcase.

Here are the dishes that embody that lovely Tuscan way. Pick a few to create a feast or choose just one to call your own.

Primi or Pasta Dishes

Also stemming from history, many Tuscan dishes were invented based on the principle of &ldquowaste not&rdquo such as ribollita - a tuscan vegetable and bread soup - and pappa al pomodoro - a tomato and bread soup (in the photo above). Both use stale bread as the base that is flavored with a variety of vegetables and legumes. Ribollita, traditionally a poor-man's food, is hearty and thickened with the leftover bread, cannellini beans and inexpensive vegetables that you can often find year-round such as onions, carrots, celery, kale and cabbage. Pappa al pomodoro is another very traditional dish made simply with the day old bread, tomatoes, olive oil and sometimes a hint of garlic, depending on the recipe. As simple as these dishes sound, they are flavorful enough to have become a favorite among locals and also among tourists throughout the decades. Other first course dishes in Tuscany are simple pastas such as pappardelle alla lepre o al sugo di cinghiale, a fresh, egg noodle pasta with either a hare or wild boar sauce.

Another common dish coming from this principle is Trippa and Lampredotto, particularly in Florence. It is served both as street food as well as in five star restaurants. Trippa is the cow&rsquos stomach lining which is often tenderized by stewing it in a tomato sauce for a long period or served marinated as a salad. Lampredotto is served mostly as street food, which you can find at one of the many food kiosks throughout the city or in the markets during lunch time, and is also made from the stomach and served as a sandwich with a green parsley sauce and the juice from the broth in which it was cooked. Both of these are very typical Florentine foods but do take to only a certain crowd. If you are feeling experimental and love trying new things, either stop off at the indoor food market of San Lorenzo at Nerbone or at the Kiosk that you will find in Piazza dei Ciompi outside of the other food market, Sant&rsquoAmbrogio. Another option is to sit down at Trattoria da Rocco inside the Sant&rsquoAmbrogio market, where they serve up steaming plates of Tuscan classics including trippa, but don&rsquot expect to linger as this place likes to keep things moving and get people fed and on their way. It is certainly, though, one of the most authentic places to sample a variety of local dishes without breaking the bank.

Recipe Summary

  • 4 (4 ounce) fillets catfish
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 ½ tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 4 roma tomatoes or sun-dried tomatoes, sliced thin

Preheat broiler to 500 degrees. Coat a broiling pan with nonstick cooking spray. Brush both sides of fillets with lemon juice, and then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place fillets flat side up on prepared pan.

In a small bowl, mix Parmesan cheese, butter, and mayonnaise.

Broil fish about 4 inches from heat for 6 minutes. Remove pan from oven, and turn fillets over. Spread the cheese mixture evenly over each fillet. Top with tomato slices. Broil an additional 4 to 6 minutes, or until fish flakes easily with a fork.

Recipe Summary

  • 1 pound bulk mild Italian sausage
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
  • 4 slices bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 5 (13.75 ounce) cans chicken broth
  • 6 potatoes, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ¼ bunch fresh spinach, tough stems removed

Cook the Italian sausage and red pepper flakes in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat until crumbly, browned, and no longer pink, 10 to 15 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Cook the bacon in the same Dutch oven over medium heat until crisp, about 10 minutes. Drain, leaving a few tablespoons of drippings with the bacon in the bottom of the Dutch oven. Stir in the onions and garlic cook until onions are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.

Pour the chicken broth into the Dutch oven with the bacon and onion mixture bring to a boil over high heat. Add the potatoes, and boil until fork tender, about 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and stir in the heavy cream and the cooked sausage heat through. Mix the spinach into the soup just before serving.

Irresistible Italian Sausage Recipes

Whether you’re craving pasta, pizza, sandwiches or a warm-and-cozy breakfast casserole, Italian sausage always fits the bill. It’s easy quick and easy to prepare and packed with some seriously savory flavor — making a great meal doable any day of the week.

Related To:

Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Melissa Libertelli

Photo By: Stephen Johnson ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Brian Kennedy ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Christopher Testani

Sausage, Peppers and Onions

Giada&rsquos genius secret to cramming more Italian sausage into every bite of these delicious Italian sandwiches? Hollow out the bottom of the roll to make space for extra fillings!

Italian Sausage Pasta Skillet

Looking for a hearty, family-friendly dish? Ree&rsquos veggie-and-sausage pasta is the way to go. Best of all, the whole thing is ready in just 16 minutes.

Italian Sausage and Pepper Strata

Bake up breakfast, lunch or dinner with this cheesy, eggy sausage-and-pepper casserole. It makes 4-6 servings, so it's perfect for feeding the whole family.

Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe and Sausage

Not a fan of red sauce? This pasta dish uses olive oil, red pepper flakes and shaved Parmesan instead.

Italian Sausage Balls

This version of sausage balls, a traditional Southern appetizer, gets an Italian twist. Pickled cherry peppers add a touch of acid and spice that complements the richness of the sausage and the mozzarella.

Baked Rigatoni with Sausage

Giada combines savory Italian sausage with broccoli and rigatoni for a warm, comforting baked pasta dish that will become part of your regular rotation.

Sheetpan Sausage Supper

Weeknight dinners just got a whole lot easier. Toss your sausage and vegetables onto a sheet pan along with a little olive oil and seasoning and roast until tender. It's that easy!

Italian Sausage and Pepper Burgers

Katie upgrades her burgers by using two types of Italian sausage (sweet and hot) instead of ground beef. How do you top a sausage burger? Onion, bell pepper, banana peppers and provolone, of course!

Pasta with Clams, White Wine and Spicy Italian Sausage

Italian sausage is right at home with littleneck clams in Guy&rsquos flavor-loaded pasta dish. First, he seasons and cooks the sausage until well-browned, then adds the rest of the ingredients. When the clams pop open, it&rsquos time to reduce the sauce a little &mdash and eat!

Sausage-Stuffed Zucchini Boats

A mix of sweet and hot Italian sausage makes the perfect stuffing for halved zucchini &mdash along with some Parmesan and mozzarella, of course!

Italian Unstuffed Shells

A family-favorite dish with a twist! This unfussy version has all the flavor of stuffed shells &ndash without all the work of filling the pasta. The best part? You can make this dish ahead of time and freeze for later.

Hot Sausage Cast-Iron Skillet Pan Pizza

Who needs a pizza oven when you can make a delicious pie in the oven, using your cast-iron skillet? Toppings like sweet sausage, chili flakes and honey give it the perfect balance of sweet and savory flavors.

Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe & Sausage

Ina&rsquos 5-star pasta recipe has rave reviews. Fans say that the dish has &ldquoamazing flavor&rdquo and is one &ldquofor the whole family to enjoy&rdquo. There aren&rsquot many ingredients in this dish so be sure to use the best quality you can find. It will be worth it!

Italian Sausage-and-Pepper Pigs in Blankets

Pigs in blankets get an Italian makeover! The combo of cheese, pesto and peppers stuffed into the sausages is a winner. Use hot sausage if you like a little spice.

Sausage and Rigatoni Dump Dinner

Skip boiling a big pot of water. This hearty pasta dinner calls for uncooked rigatoni and layers of ricotta and Italian sausage to be layered right in the casserole, so you'll have nothing to wash while it bakes.

The Best Italian Wedding Soup

We tried all-sausage meatballs but found them heavy and dense &mdash adding ground pork keeps them light but still extremely flavorful. If you really want to up the umami factor in this soup, toss a Parmesan rind into the broth as it simmers.

Italian Sausage and Egg Bake

Breakfast will never be boring with Giada&rsquos sausage and egg bake. She nestles the eggs into a hearty sausage stuffing for a casserole-like dish to be shared with the whole family! When cracking the eggs, be sure to keep the yolks intact so they&rsquoll still be a little runny when the whites have finished cooking.

Cheesy Sausage Rigatoni

Ree&rsquos layered sausage-and-rigatoni dish can be cooked right away &mdash or stored in the freezer for a night when you need a low-maintenance meal.

Italian Sausage Stuffing

You might think of stuffing as a holiday side dish but this one makes a great accompaniment to many wintry meals like pork chops, roast chicken and more.

Rigatoni with Sausage & Fennel

Don&rsquot know what to do with fennel? Ina incorporates it into her rigatoni, along with Italian sausage and grated parmesan for an adult version of mac and cheese.

Sunny's Italian Sausage-Stuffed Acorn Squash

Got a few extra links of Italian sausage? Use them to make a sweet-and-savory stuffing for hollowed-out acorn squash. It&rsquos the vegetable side dish we&rsquore sure no one will be able to say &lsquono&rsquo to!

Italian Sausage, Spinach, and Ricotta Cannelloni

One of our favorite ways to use Italian sausage? As a filling for stuffed pasta. This recipe calls for homemade pasta and sauce. If you don&rsquot have time to make everything from scratch, store-bought works great too.

Meatball-Sausage Subs

The next time you&rsquore making slow-cooker meatballs for meatballs subs, throw some Italian sausage in too. It will add extra flavor to the sauce and simmering meatballs &mdash and be a welcome addition to the traditional sandwich.

Spinach, Walnut and Golden Raisin Pesto Pasta with Italian Chicken Sausage

When you need a quick, satisfying dinner, reach for Italian sausage. It cooks up fast and adds tons of flavor to anything you pair it with.

Italian Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms

Want to give your stuffed mushrooms maximum flavor? Fill them with a blend of Italian sausage, fennel, mushroom and garlic.

Sausage-Spinach Stuffed Shells

The best way to eat your leafy greens? Stuffed into al dente pasta along with hot Italian sausage and three different cheeses!

Sausage Lasagna

Pro tip: when you&rsquore assembling lasagna, alternate the direction of your pasta with each layer. That will give the finished dish more stability!

Italian Recipes

Where do you find the most authentic and traditional Italian Recipes? Only at Cooking with Nonna.

Enjoy our Grandma's files for the most Original and Traditional Italian Food and Cuisine. Our collection includes: Pasta dishes, Soups, Desserts, Cookies, Fish, Meat and all the traditional Italian Holiday recipes prepared by our Nonne, our Grandmothers, who are the keepers of the most treasured traditions. It is like getting Free Italian Cooking lessons at your own pace. So, please become a member of La Famiglia and immediately have access to all the Best Italian Recipes. By joining La Famiglia we can also keep you informed of all new events and offers going on at Cooking with Nonna. Remember, when it comes to Italian Food. there is no higher authority than Nonna!

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From Publishers Weekly

From Library Journal


Italian food has never been more popular, and now, in this inspiring cookbook, Pino Luongo presents the food of his native Tuscany. With him as our guide, we discover the delights of the region and learn a relaxed and simple way of cooking without precise measurements. As he says in the introduction, "Most cookbooks give exact amounts of this and that, but I never learned about timing and quantities -- I did everything by instinct. If you make a mistake in tablespoons, it's not going to hurt you. You don't need a prescription for cooking food, you're the person in charge. As in love, there are no rules for cooking. Everything should be done with feeling."

It's one of the loveliest cookbooks I've ever seen, filled with spectacular pictures, great stories and recipes that sound wonderful. -- Los Angeles Times

Even if one never makes a single recipe, his book, with its wit and wit and breezy style, is fun to read.

Its recipes are direct and appealing, the accompanying narrative charming and the many culinary opinions well worth considering.

-- Washington Post Book World

Anyone who likes to cook and is relaxed about it should find the book rewarding. -- New York Times

From the Inside Flap

nt, delightfully unconventional cookbook is a warm, personal collection of recipes and reminiscences of the author's native Tuscany and a guide to a spontaneous way of cooking based on good taste and common sense rather than rigid rules.

In A Tuscan in the Kitchen, Pino Luongo, the creator of New York's successful Il Cantinori restaurant, presents 140 of his favorite recipes, from soups and antipasti to salads and desserts. The recipes include such tempting dishes as trout with balsamic vinegar, peasant-style risotto made with sausage and peas, roasted quail with tarragon, spaghetti with sea bass sauce, radicchio and orange salad, and baked peaches stuffed with walnuts and chocolate. Interspersed throughout in a spirited narrative are tales of his adventures as well as stories of family celebrations and the local traditions of the people who live in Tuscany's dries, hill towns, and fishing ports.

Mr. Luongo shows us how to cook the Tuscan way, using a small repertoire of ingr

From the Back Cover

It's one of the loveliest cookbooks I've ever seen, filled with spectacular pictures, great stories and recipes that sound wonderful. -- Los Angeles Times

Even if one never makes a single recipe, his book, with its wit and wit and breezy style, is fun to read.

Its recipes are direct and appealing, the accompanying narrative charming and the many culinary opinions well worth considering.

-- Washington Post Book World

Anyone who likes to cook and is relaxed about it should find the book rewarding. -- New York Times

Here Are Our 12 best Italian recipes, ranging from Focaccia bread to a luscious tiramisu and more. Buon appetito!

1. Caprese Salad with Pesto Sauce

Nothing like a fresh tomato salad in summers! A great antipasto bite to start your meal with. This combination of juicy tomatoes and mozzarella cheese salad topped with freshly made pesto sauce is a distinct yet simple one. It offers a twist to the classic caprese salad.

Italian Recipes: Caprese Salad with Pesto Sauce is a fresh and distinct twist to a tomato salad.

2. Panzenella

Panzenella is a Tuscan bread salad, ideal for summer. It does not follow a particular recipe, but the two ingredients that do not change are tomatoes and bread. This salad is great with a chilled glass of Prosecco and lots of sunshine!

Italian Recipes: An ideal summer salad, panzanella has spices, herbs and veggies tossed together.

3. Bruschetta

An antipasto dish, bruschetta has grilled bread topped with veggies, rubbed garlic and tomato mix. A country bread sliced and topped with different toppings - the evergreen tomato-basil and an inventive mushroom-garlic. The classic Italian starter!

Italian Recipes: Bruschetta is a classic Italian dish with generous garlic flvaour and a cheesy, spicy, tomato topping!

4. Focaccia Bread

Fresh dough is topped with caramelized onions, olives, tomato slices, basil leaves, grated parmesan cheese and baked delicious!

Italian Recipes: A delicious, fulfilling bread, baked to perfection!

5. Pasta Carbonara

This simple Roman pasta dish derives its name from 'carbone' meaning coal. It was a pasta popular with the coal miners. The original recipe calls for guanciale, which is pig's cheek, but since its not easily available, the chef has used bacon instead.

Italian Recipes: Pasta Carbonara is the ultimate cheesy dish that you would love to indulge in!

6. Margherita Pizza

Fancy a pipping hot pizza, fresh out of the oven? Create one at home! Margherita Pizza is to many the true Italian flag. One of the most loved Italian dishes, it just takes a few simple ingredients and you get insanely delicious results! You just can't go wrong with that tomato, basil and fresh mozzarella combo.

Italian Recipes: Classic Margherita Pizza with oodles of cheese, need we say more?

7. Mushroom Risotto

A plateful of buttery risotto with the goodness of mushrooms. A healthy bowl of mushroom risotto has benefits more than you can think. A great source of protein, powerful antioxidant and even has cancer-fighting properties. This risotto recipe with mushrooms is a delicious recipe besides being easy and quick! Great to feed a hungry horde!

8. Pasta Con Pomodoro E Basilico

This is the most basic and simplest cooked pasta sauce, hence it is the benchmark of a good Italian home cook. This one boats of being among the original Italian recipes of pasta. easy and quick, this pasta recipe can be made under half an hour. Serve as a breakfast, pack for kid's tiffin or savour as an evening snack. You can even cook this for a casual and lazy dinner and pair this up with red wine.

Italian Recipes: The basic of all pasta recipes, you can cook this for dinner too.

9. Tiramisu - The 'pick-me-up' cake

The delightful tiramisu recipe with sponge fingers soaked in coffee, layered around and smeared with a creamy mascarpone mixture. The word 'tiramisu' in Italian means 'pick-me-up'. Owing to its caffeine kick it sure does!

Italian Recipes: A soft, melt in the mouth dessert that you can pair with tea or right after the dinner.

10. Lasagna

The ultimate Italian dish has to be this recipe of Lasagna. A secret to the best lasagna recipe lies in the perfectly made, home made bolognese sauce and this bacon and lamb lasagna boasts of a delicious one! Loaded with parmesan cheese and layered with a mix of vegetables, bacon strips and minced lamb, this lasagna recipe is nothing short of perfect.

11. Pistachio Panna Cotta

End your meals, the Italian way! Panna cota is dessert is made with gelatin, cream and milk. Chilled and served with chopped pistachios garnishing. Panna Cotta, in Italian, means 'cooked cream.' This is a very easy and quick dessert to prepare for a party at home. With just a handful of ingredients, you can have this Italian delicacy and relish away!

Italian Recipes: Pannacota is a delicious treat to relish after a hearty meal.

12. Panettone

An Italian sweet bread, panettone is a perfect Christmas or New year's dessert with the goodness of egg, flour, sugar, raisins, candied orange, lemon and cherries.

Enjoy your Italian cooking time and make the most of these recipes to surprise your friends and family.


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