a tavola - the cuisine of latium
(return to food)
The cuisine of Lazio is the cuisine of Rome. The cuisine of Rome per se
does not exist. It is the rich and flavorful combination of the culinary
traditions of the Latium Region.
Spaghetti alla Carbonara, which is Roman, has a slightly mysterious past - it is from
"somewhere" in Latium while the famous Bucatini all'Amatriciana actually come from Amatrice
The pasta dishes with humorous names are entertaining and abundant and always present in
the trattorias of Transtevere in Rome. The second courses such as Saltimbocca alla Romana
(jump into the mouth) are tied to the very antique popular traditions of the farmers in the
surrounding countryside. The seafood is fresh and delicious. I have spent a lot of time in
Rome shopping in the markets where the vegetables are
beautiful and inexpensive. The artichokes are famous. They are globes without the spine at
the end of the leaf so they are easier to work with. The Roman countryside furnishes not
only great vegetables but good cheeses such as Pecorino.
It is delightful to shop for food, cook and eat in Rome.
Pinzimonio - Roman Crudite's
PRIMI PIATTI - FIRST COURSES
This is a dish often served in Italian homes and restaurants. It consists of
a bowl of fresh vegetables which are dipped in a mixture of olive oil, salt
and pepper and occasionally red wine vinegar. Usually these are presented in
separate bowls, though sometimes they are mixed to a kind of vinaigrette
which is shared at the centre of the table. People dip a piece of celery or
whatever into the bowl, nibble it and dip again. It may not be hygienic but
it certainly does have a simple and rustic appeal.
1 head of celery, separated
1 head of fennel
1 bunch of radishes, preferably with their leaves on
1 medium cucumber
250ml/ 8fl oz virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon of salt
1 tablespoon of ground black pepper
2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
assorted leaves, to dress the serving dish
Trim the vegetables, separate the celery discarding any coarse outer stalks.
Separate the fennel, splitting the larger "cups" in half. Wash the radishes,
trimming off the root part but leaving a little bit of the green stalk
attached. Split the cucumber lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, cut each canoe
in half and then cut again lengthwise into six batons, giving 24 pieces
altogether. Peel the carrots and cut those lengthwise into 4 or 5 strips
depending on their width.
Arrange the vegetables in a sort of giant cartwheel on an oval or a round
plate in the middle of which is a bowl with the olive oil. If you wish to
stir the vinegar, salt and pepper into the oil to make a single dressing do
so, if not serve those in smaller bowls around the edge for people to add to
their dipping if they choose.
Serves 4 - 6.
Funghi Trifolati - Mushrooms with Garlic
This is a very simple dish often served as an antipasto in Rome and a
northern Italian cities. It is the only way I ever cook mushrooms.
Traditionally they used porcini or ceps mushrooms, to give them their
French name, but they're pretty difficult to find in this country unless
you have a secret wood of your own, and when you find them in shops they're
severely expensive. What makes an excellent substitute these days are the
Japanese style shitake mushrooms which have the same sort of density and
intensity of flavor and are widely available in supermarkets and vegetable
250g of shitake mushrooms
1 tablespoon of olive oil
2 tablespoons of butter
1 clove of garlic
small bunch finely chopped parsley
salt and pepper
Run the mushrooms under very hot or boiling water in a colander, shaking
them thoroughly. Trim the stalks and slice each mushroom into four pieces,
unless it's very large in which case six would be more satisfactory.
Put the oil in a small pan into which the mushrooms will fit and melt the
butter in that. Add the finely chopped garlic and then the mushroom slices.
Cook very gently, stirring every now and again for about 10 minutes or so.
They will give off a little juice and that should coat the mushrooms in the
pan. Season at the end of cooking, not before. Serve with the chopped
Pomodori con Riso - Tomatos with Rice
This is one of the most classic fillings for tomatoes; and will work well
as either an antipasto or a side dish. It can be served either hot or cool.
The recipe is from about.com Italian food and is drawn from Car�la
Francesconi's La Cucina Napoletana. Note from Alice: I have modified it
12 round, large tomatoes
3/4 cup (150 g) rice, cooked which will be more than 3/4 of a cup
1 clove garlic
5 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano
Salt & pepper to taste
1 cup dry white wine
Fresh shredded basil or oregano
Wash and dry the tomatoes, then cut around their caps and scoop out the pulp
with a spoon, being careful not to puncture the tomatoes. Do the scooping
over a bowl so as to catch all the liquid that drips from the tomatoes as
well, and when you have finished blend the pulp and juice. Then combine the
blended tomato pulp with the remaining ingredients except the wine.
Preheat your oven to 375 F (170 C).
Stuff the tomatoes with the filling without tamping down too hard, replace
the caps, and put them in a lightly oiled oven proof dish. Pour the wine
into the dish and bake the tomatoes until done, about 45 minutes. Serve
either hot or cool.
MINESTRE E ZUPPE - SOUPS
From Cosa Bolle in Pentola, here is Livio Jannattoni's recipe, from La
Cucina Romana e del Lazio:
About 2 quarts broth (Alice's note: I prefer chicken broth)
3-4 tablespoons semolina
3 tablespoons freshly grated Pecorino
1 tablespoon very finely minced parsley (optional)
A pinch of freshly ground nutmeg (optional)
Eggs and broth -- hard to devise a better match! In the past custom dictated
it be eaten at least once a week, but now its popularity has declined.
However, it remains in the archives of authentic Roman cuisine, always ready
to reemerge if needed.
In a bowl, combine the eggs, semolina, grated cheese, and, if you're using
them, nutmeg and parsley. Add a ladle of cold broth and beat the mixture
lightly with a fork or whisk.
Bring the remainder of the broth to a boil. Add the egg mixture in one fell
swoop, stirring vigorously with a whisk or fork so as to break up the egg,
which will form fine light flakes, minute rags (straccetti, in Italian) that
give the soup its name. Simmer for another 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly,
and serve, with a little more grated Pecorino on the side.
Gnocchi alla Romana - Potato Dumplings Roman Style
Roman Gnocchi are available already made in the supermarket in Pavia
packaged in a long tube. All we had to do was bake them. I miss that
convenience in San Francisco.
250 grams of semolina
1 liter + 1/2 cup milk
100 grams of butter (1 stick)
3 egg yolks
Salt and Pepper to taste
100 grams of Parmesan cheese
Boil 1 liter of milk in a large pan.
While stirring, gradually put in semolina, salt, nutmeg, pepper and 3/4
stick of butter.
Stir for 15 to 20 minutes.
Mix the egg yolks with 1/2 cup of warm milk.
Take the pan off the burner and add 2 tablespoons of Parmesan and eggs.
Put cold water on the counter top and spread the semolina mixture out over
it. It should be between 1/4 and 1/2 inch thick.
Cut it into circular pieces and line them up in a greased pan.
Add Parmesan and butter on top.
Bake until golden at 450-500 degrees.
SECONDI PIATTI - SECOND COURSES
Spaghetti alla Carbonara - Coal Shovelers' Spaghetti
Here are two recipes for this dish. The first one is the recipe of a Roman
Soccer team. The second one is my own which I learned from a friend in
Liguria which, I believe, is more commonly used.
Roman Soccer Team Recipe for Spaghetti alla Carbonara.
This is a famous dish in Rome where nearly every good restaurant offers it
with pride. This dish, while very good, is very simple to make. This is one
version which leaves out the egg and adds tomatoes and fresh Basil.
2 Small White Onions
1 Sweet Red Pepper (diced)
8 slices of bacon (diced)
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 cups of plum Italian tomatoes
2 tablespoons chopped Fresh Basil
1 Pound of Spaghetti
1/2 Cup Pecorino
Prepare the sauce: Saut� the olive oil, onion, bacon and garlic until the
bacon is well cooked. Add the plum Italian Tomatoes, basil, and sweet red
pepper. Let simmer for about 1 hours. Make sure you add more water if
Start a pot of boiling water. When the water begins to boil add the
spaghetti. Do not over cook the spaghetti. Once the spaghetti is done,
drain the spaghetti add the sauce and stir well. Top with plenty of Romano
Serves 4 or 5.
Alice's Spaghetti alla Carbonara
1 lb of spaghetti
heavy cream or plain yogurt
1/2 lb of pancetta (pancetta is not smoked) or bacon
2 eggs, uncooked
Parmesan or Pecorino cheese
Freshly grated black pepper
Put pasta bowls in a warm oven. Put the water on to boil, add salt. In a
frying pan, put about 6 slices of bacon or pancetta and cook slowly.
Whisk the two eggs in a stainless steel or copper bowl. Add a pinch of
nutmeg to the eggs. When the bacon or pancetta is crisp, remove it to a
plate covered with a paper towel and squeeze it into small bits. Add
cream to the bacon fat remaining in the pan and keep warm. When the
spaghtetti is cooked, remove it to a collandar and drain; put it back in
the pan used to boil it; add the eggs and mix (the eggs will cook on the
spaghetti; add the Parmesan cheese and mix, add the bacon or pancetta fat
and cream and mix. Serve immediately with additional Parmesan cheese and
grated black pepper.
Schiaffi - Slaps (Roman Ravioli)
Here is a recipe from Rome for delicious large ravioli. Their name,
translated, means "slaps"!
1-1/2 pounds Ricotta cheese
1/2 pound Cacio di Roma cheese, chopped in small pieces
1-1/2 ounces cooked prosciutto ham, finely chopped
1-1/2 ounces uncooked prosciutto ham, finely chopped
20 leaves of fresh spinach, boiled and finely chopped
1-1/2 ounces Genuine Pecorino Romano cheese, grated
pasta sheets for making ravioli
Mix the Ricotta, Cacio de' Roma and chopped spinach with both types of
prosciutto and the Pecorino Romano cheese. Coat the ravioli pasta sheet with
beatn egg until shiny. Cut a piece of pasta 3-1/2 inches long by 2-1/2
inches wide. Fill half of it with the cheese, spinach and meat mixture, then
fold over the rest of the pasta and seal the edges tightly. Follow this
procedure until all of the pasta has been used up. Boil water and add the
schiaffi. Cook until they rise to the top. Serve with the sauce of your
choice or with Tomato Cream Sauce.
Tomato Cream Sauce:
Cook one pound of peeled tomatoes to form the base of the sauce. Strain to
remove the seeds. Add one pint of cooking cream and one and a half ounces of
butter cut in pieces. Blend well and serve over the schiaffi.
Strozzapretti alla Boscaiola - Strangled Priests with Mushrooms
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium red onion, chopped into 1/4 inch dice
1 stalk celery, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1/2 pound crimini or portobello mushrooms, quartered
1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms, soaked 10 minutes in warm water
1 cup basic tomato sauce, recipe follows
1 bunch Italian parsley, finely chopped to yield 1/4 cup
Make pasta. Roll out pasta to No. 4 setting, roughly 1/8 inch thick. Cut
pasta sheets into 4 inch long pieces and fold each in half. Cut roll into
strips 1/2 inch thick. Take each piece between hands and roll back and
forth several times to form a twisted
piece. Set aside.
Bring 6 quarts water to boil and add 2 tablespoons salt.
In a 12 to 14 inch sauce pan, heat olive oil, onion and celery over medium
high heat until soft, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook until
sweated, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add tomato sauce and bring to a boil.
Meanwhile, drop pasta into boiling water and cook 1 minute until soft. Drain
well and toss into pan with mushrooms. Cook until well coated. Add parsley,
toss into warm platter and serve.
CARNE - MEAT
AGNELLO - LAMB
Abbacchio al Forno alla Maniera di Rocca Priora - Roast Lamb or Kid Rocca
PESCE - SEAFOOD
Abbacchio al Forno alla Maniera di Rocca Priora - Roast Lamb or Kid Rocca
Few dishes are quite as Roman as this. The recipe is drawn from Livio
Jannattoni's La Cucina romana e del Lazio; he in turn got it from a friend
living in Rocca Priora, a town near Rome. As you'll note, the recipe is
quite free when it comes to proportions. Don't overdo it with either the
wine or the garlic, and if you want, add a few baby potatoes, cubed, to the
pan (when you turn the meat). My amounts are in square brackets.
Half of a lamb or kid, weighing 9-11 pounds (4-5 k), chopped into
Take an oven-proof pan big enough to hold the meat and add to it
several cloves of garlic [2-3] (punctured here and there with a fork)
Olive oil [1/3 cup]
Dry white wine [1/2 cup]
Rosemary [the leaves from a 6-inch sprig]
Salt and pepper
Mash everything down with the bottom of a glass, lay the pieces of lamb
over it, cover the pan with aluminum foil, and set it to roast in a
moderate (350 F, 175 C) oven. The roasting will require between 1 1/2 and 2
hours; about halfway through the process remove the foil, turn the meat,
and replace the foil (you can also add cubed potatoes at this point if you
want). When the meat is about 20 minutes shy of being done remove the foil
and let it brown.
You can also check the meat for doneness with a fork -- it will come away
from the bone when it is ready.
Serves 8 - 10.
Saltimbocca alla Romana - Saltimbocca (means Jump into the Mouth) Roman
This is easy, fun to make, flavorful and everyone will enjoy it.
500 gr. veal sliced
120 gr. di prosciutto crudo
50 gr. of butter
Cut the larger slices of veal into small protions and put a slice of
prosciutto crudo over it in order to cover it completely. Put a sage leaf
on top and fasten the whole thing with a wooden toothpick.
In a large frying pan, melt the butter and fry the saltimbocca. When they
are golden on both sides, add a pinch of salt, not quite a full glass of
white wine and continue the cooking for 5 to 6 minutes.
Remove the saltimbocca from the pan and add 2 teaspoons of water to the
juices in the pan and boil for about one minute.
Pour the sauce over the saltimbocca and serve with a side dish of buttered
Baked Sardines with Roast Potatoes and Romaine lettuce salad
About 2 pounds of fresh sardines
1 pound of fresh tomatoes, chopped
Fresh garlic, chopped
Gut and clean fresh sardines. Layer them in a rectangular baking pan with
chopped fresh tomato, oregano, garlic and olive oil, then bake them
briefly. Bake roast potatoes to accompany them and serve a romaine
salad, dressed with nothing but olive oil and lemon.
Carciofi alla Giudea - Judas Artichokes
4 lg. artichokes (Roman Artichokes do not have the sharp spine on the
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup virgin olive oil
2 lemons, cut in wedges
Pull off outer layers of deep green leaves from each artichoke and
discard. Cut off stem and set aside. Rub each cut with a lemon wedge. Place
artichoke on its side and cut off top third. Discard these points. Using a
pair of scissors, cut off the sharp points. Soak 10 minutes in cold water
with 1 ounce lemon juice.
Carefully open the leaves by prying with your fingers as if opening a
flower and pressing down on the counter the opening face. Drain each
artichoke on paper towels, shaking to remove all liquid. Season
aggressively with salt and pepper between
each leaf and all over.
Heat the virgin olive oil in a tall-sided saucepan, 8 to 10 inches wide at
base, until just smoking. Cook artichokes in this hot oil 12 to 15 minutes,
until golden all over. After 10 minutes of cooking, spritz the pan by
shaking your wet hand over the artichokes to mist them. Be careful; this
will cause the oil to sizzle and spatter.
When the artichokes are cooked, remove each one, and holding the artichoke
by skewering its base with a fork, press the flower side down to force it
further open. Drain on paper towels, season with salt and pepper again and
serve with lemon wedges.
Puntarelle or radicchio rosso - Chicory Salad
Once you have washed, picked over, and shredded your puntarelle, grind one
or more cloves of garlic in a mortar with a few rinsed, boned anchovies
(ideally the kind packed in salt, though you can used canned anchovy filets
packed in oil too). When the two are ground to a smooth paste work some good
vinegar into the mixture to dilute it, and use the sauce thus obtained to
dress your salad.
Note: If you cannot find this particular variety of chicory (which is light
green in color, and has long thin serrated leaves) you could also use
radicchio rosso. The chromatic effect will be different but the flavor will
still be good.
Alice's Note: I used to grow Cicoria Bianca di Milano on my balcony in
Pavia in the spring and summer. If you can find the seeds to grow it, It
might lend itself also to this recipe.
Dolce di Formaggio Romano - Roman Cheesecake
Executive Chef Vittorio Saccone, the Excelsior Hotel, Rome, Italy.
Alice's Note: Ricotta cheese is not available in Italy in the summer so
recipes made with it are not eaten in warm weather.
Italian ricotta cheese is less runny than what we have in America. In order
to duplicate the Italian texture we blended farmer's cheese with ricotta
cheese. To help set the cake, we also added a couple of tablespoonfuls of flour and an
egg. I like the tang of the dried cherries, but the cake works as well with golden raisins.
To Make the dough:
21/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon or more ice water
Flour for rolling the dough
For the filling:
1 carton (15 ounces) whole milk ricotta cheese
1 package (7.5 ounces) farmer's cheese
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup Romana Sambuca Liqueur
1/2 cup pine nuts, preferably toasted
1/4 cup finely diced candied orange peel
or other dried fruit
1 cup dried cherries, cranberries or golden raisins
Egg wash: 1 egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon of milk
2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar for garnish
To toast the pine nuts, set them in a 400� F. oven for
about 10 minutes. Keep an eye on them; they turn from
golden to burned in seconds.
You'll need a round cake pan, preferably with a loose bottom, 9 inches in
diameter and 11/2 inches deep.
To make the dough:
In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, salt and process
until blended. Add the butter and process until broken into the flour.
Add the eggs and ice water to the flour and process, by pulsing several
times, until the dough comes together. If the dough seems dry, add another
teaspoon or so of ice water. Turn the dough onto a board and gather it
into a ball. Flatten the dough slightly, wrap it in waxed paper and
refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375� F.
Flour a pastry board and rolling pin. Remove 2/3's of the dough and roll
it into a circle about 1/4-inch thick and 11 inches in diameter. Line the
cake pan with the dough, pressing it into the bottom and up the sides of
the pan. If it breaks apart, don't worry, just press it back into shape.
Roll the remaining 1/3 of dough into a circle about 3/8 -inch thick and 10
inches in diameter. Divide this circle into 10 strips, each about 1/2-inch
wide; this will be for the lattice top.
For the filling:
In a food processor, combine the ricotta and farmer's cheese, sugar, flour,
egg and Sambuca and process until smooth. Transfer the filling to a
mixing bowl and fold in the pine nuts, candied orange peel and cherries, or
golden raisins and transfer this to the dough-lined cake pan.
Lay 5 strips of dough across the ricotta filling and set the other 5 strips
across them, at a 45� angle, to form a lattice. With a pastry brush, paint
the lattice top and edges with the egg wash. Set the cake pan on a baking pan and
bake for 1 hour or until the filling
has set and the crust is golden. Remove the cake and cool it thoroughly on
a rack before unmolding. Right before serving, shake the confectioners'
sugar through a sieve to completely coat the top.