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If the cuisine of Veneto had to have a symbol, it would undoubtedly be rice and beans. Rice is cooked a thousand different ways, using Lake Garda's Vialone Nano, a shorter, plumper grain than Arborio, always served all'onda, "with a wave:" moist and a little brothy. And then there are soups made with rice; the one with cabbage is a classic. Pasta e fagioli, pasta with beans, is prepared with lard or, in older recipes, a prosciutto bone.

Typical pastas include bigoli con l'anatra, thick whole-wheat spaghetti served with a duck sauce, and pappardelle e figadini, wide noodles served in broth with sautéed liver. Baccalà alla Vicentina is typical of the province of Vicenza and owes its origins to the area's trade with northern Europe in bygone centuries. Cooked with a mixture of ingredients, the codfish is notable for its tenderness and delicate flavor. The secret of this simple dish lies in the quantity of the codfish: the more the better in order to give more consistency and flavor.

Veneto's climate is ideal for growing corn, and a local white variety is made into a delicate polenta. A Byzantine influence is obvious in sardele in saor, anchovies in a sweet-and-sour sauce with pine nuts and currants. Meat dishes are robust: liver is smothered in onions, boiled beef is accompanied by a peppery sauce called pearà.

Tempting sweets include zaleti - cornmeal cookies studded with raisins - and torta sabbiosa, a simple egg cake. Of course, a must for Carnevale are the deep-fried frittelle.

Veneto produces outstanding wines, including Recioto, its dry cousin Amarone, Valpolicella, Soave, and Bianco di Conegliano. Locally produced grappa is often served after dinner.


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