Enjoy Lazio’s traditional dishes

19 April 2021
Food & Wine
piatti tipici lazio

Are you a foodie, always looking for new dishes to enjoy during your travels or to replicate in your own kitchen? If you’re looking for great food and fascinating recipes, Lazio is the place for you. In this article we’ll learn about the most famous and typical dishes from Lazio.

Lazio has an extraordinary historical and artistic heritage; just think of its cities: they include Rome, the Italian capital, with a wealth of monuments dating back to the Roman Empire, and Viterbo, also known as the city of the Popes. These two cities and others make this region a favorite destination for Italian and foreign tourists alike. In addition, Lazio’s scenic beauty makes it one of the best loved areas in Italy. The region’s cuisine also features numerous traditional dishes with a wide range of flavors and stories.

Below you’ll find a list of some well-known and must-taste traditional Lazio dishes.

Tonnarelli Cacio e Pepe

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Many home cooks try to emulate Rome’s famous cacio e pepe pasta, but fail. But there are a few tricks that reveal the authentic Roman recipe.

One of the key ingredients in the preparation of this famous pasta dish is the pepper: it must be whole peppercorns, crushed with a pestle and mortar using a circular movement and then roasted in a large frying pan. The pepper should be added at the same time as the pasta water. Two ladles of water should be enough to dissolve it slightly.

The second trick concerns the pecorino cheese. It’s very important that the cheese used is 100% Pecorino Romano and fairly mature. It should be grated and mixed with a little cooking water in a glass bowl to obtain a creamy consistency.

This mixture is added to the drained pasta at the last minute, and mixed in the pan. This will give you authentic tonnarelli cacio e pepe.

Saltimbocca alla Romana

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Slices of veal, cured prosciutto, sage, wine and butter: these are the ingredients behind one of Rome’s most delicious main courses, loved all over Italy.

However, it seems that the famous saltimbocca didn’t actually originate in the region: their first appearances are in Lombardy and Veneto. The real boom time for this dish was in 19th-century Rome; hence its symbolic status in the capital. It later spread all over Italy and even abroad. Spain and France are big fans of saltimbocca.

But where did the recipe’s name come from? It almost seems to be a nickname. It’s a fact that these slices of veal with ham and sage, topped with a butter and white wine sauce, are so delicious it feels like they want to jump into your mouth!

Jewish-Style Artichokes

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A typical Roman dish served between January and May, depending on the artichoke season, Carciofo alla Giudia is not only a traditional recipe but also tells the story of an entire neighborhood in the city. Its roots actually date back to Pope Paul IV’s papal bull of 1555, which created the Jewish ghetto of Rome, an area where all Jewish citizens of Rome were to live.

A very special culinary tradition was also born here, and it’s still being handed down and appreciated today. One of the best-known dishes is Carciofo alla Giudia, a type of artichoke known as “mammola” – typical of Lazio – twice fried in olive oil, served in the shape of a flower and seasoned with salt and pepper.

The mammola artichoke is very distinctive; it grows only in this region, and has a round shape and no thorns. This dish was traditionally eaten to celebrate the end of Yom Kippur. Some sources claim that this vegetable dish is also popular during Pesach or Passover celebrations.

Its name comes from the description of the dish by non-Jewish residents of Rome. In conclusion, ghetto cuisine is not limited to Carciofi alla Giudia. Indeed, we can also enjoy the famous ricotta cheesecake, cookies, filled and fried zucchini flowers, salt cod and much more.

Pasta Carbonara

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Pasta carbonara has become one of Italy’s signature dishes, but it seems to have originated in Lazio.

There are several stories explaining the origins of this extraordinary dish. In our view, the most likely is the one that refers to charcoal burners’ lunches. Apparently the ease of finding the ingredients (pancetta, egg, pepper and pecorino) made this pasta dish the cheapest and easiest lunch for workers.

However, no one’s sure about the origin of this particular dish. In fact, some say that there’s no evidence of carbonara prior to 1944, tracing its invention to the arrival of the Allies in Italy. This is because the Americans brought bacon, introducing Italians to its distinctive flavor.

We don’t know the true story, but one thing is certain: it’s undoubtedly one of the most popular Italian dishes in the world.

Pasta all’Amatriciana

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In recent years, the municipality of Amatrice in the province of Rieti has become famous for the specialty that’s named after the town. This is the birthplace of Pasta all’Amatriciana, which has just three main ingredients: guanciale (and only guanciale!), tomato and pecorino cheese.

Research has indicated that the recipe can be traced back to the 17th century. However, the dish was originally a peasant recipe, passed down orally from generation to generation. But we’re here to reveal some of its secrets! First of all, it must be made in an iron skillet.

Next, guanciale is the key element. In fact, this is the very ingredient that will give your pasta its delicious flavor. The fat melts to give the sauce the perfect taste and consistency. No oil is needed. If you really must, you can use a little lard to brown the guanciale.

Finally, the ingredient that brings the sauce together is the cheese: 100% Pecorino Romano!

These are just a few of the many traditional Lazio dishes that are known and loved all over the world. Which is your favorite?

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