Tuscan cuisine is renowned for its simplicity, seasonality, and reliance on the best fresh foods. Cooking in Tuscany derives largely from its famous terroir, the wonderful landscape that produces such fresh and delicious ingredients.
Tuscan dishes often contain olive oil rather than butter (which is more commonly used in the north). Tuscan extra virgin olive oil ranks among the best in Italy. Tuscany is also known for its fine wine as well as some of the world’s best steaks.
Much of traditional Italian food comes from the notion of cucina povera or “poor cooking” — simple peasant meals that can be produced in large amounts. The same can be said of the fresh & simple Tuscan food so beloved today. Let’s take a look at some classic dishes considered to be the soul of Italian cuisine in Tuscany.
Pappa Al Pomodoro
This mouth-watering dish has humble peasant origins— a way of using dry leftover bread to form a hearty soup. Made with fresh tangy tomatoes it includes generous amounts of garlic that give it some of its characteristic zip. This soup is eaten year round - a warming comfort food in winter, served chilled with a dash of olive oil and topped with fresh basil in summer.
Bistecca alla Fiorentina
These massive juicy steaks are the stuff of legend. Big enough to be shared by two people, these amazingly tender T-Bones are grilled over a wood or charcoal fire. These perfectly grilled steaks are usually served rare and seasoned with just a pinch of salt, a twist of pepper, a hint of olive oil and a quick squeeze of lemon. With the smell lingering in the air, your mouth will be watering long before the plates even arrive. This Tuscan favorite is usually served with a garlicky side of beans and can be best enjoyed with a Chianti or another fine Tuscan wine.
Panino al Lampredotto
Tuscany for foodies is like an amusement park of new flavors. Take for instance the panino al lampredotto. It originated as a workman’s sandwich, so called as it uses the less expensive butcher’s offcuts. The main ingredient of this sandwich is tripe cooked in a tangy tomato, celery, parsley, and onion broth. The meat is then seasoned with a bit of salt and pepper then covered in bits of hot chilli or a green parsley sauce. Many street vendors sell it wedged into two pieces of crusty bread. Concerned about the intense flavor? You can ask for “spannocchia” the fattier milder part of the tripe that will give you a more subtle taste.
When taking culinary tours in Italy, never forget the wine. Tuscany is famed for its Chianti wine produced from historic vineyards, many of which are hundreds of years old. Wine will make for a perfect accompaniment to most Tuscan dishes, including those mentioned here. Gaze around Tuscany’s rolling hills and experience a culinary trip you’ll never forget.