Italian cuisine wows with its depth of diversity. Each region has its preferred ingredients, cooking methods and dishes. We’ve put together a handy regional round-up to help you plan your Italian menus.

Lombardy

Key ingredients: Rice, polenta, butter instead of olive oil, beef, veal
Famous products: Veal, poultry, Blue-veined Gorgonzola Cheese, Gran Padano Parmesan Cheese
Dish: Osso Bucco with Risotto Milanese

Chef Jean van der Westhuizen’s tip: A tender veal shank is at the heart of this dish. Lightly flour the veal, sear, and slow-braise to keep the shank from falling apart.

Emilia-Romagna

Key ingredients: Egg-based pasta, cured meats
Famous products:
Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese, Balsamic Vinegar of Modena, Tortellini
Dish:
Mozzarella Tortellini Bolognese Sauce

Chef Jean’s tip: Balance out the cheese-filled pasta with a rich ragù Bolognese. The ragù needs to be meaty and hearty, not liquid or loose.

Tuscany

Key ingredients: Extra virgin olive oil, sheep’s milk cheeses, rabbit
Famous products:
Pecorino Toscano Cheese, extra virgin olive oil (green gold in colour), unsalted Tuscan Bread
Dish:
Tuscan Chicken and Tomato Roast

Chef Jean’s tip: Lightly toast the fennel seeds before cooking, and be gentle with the Balsamic Vinegar. Cook as a one pan dish to extract maximum flavour and juices.

Lazio

Key ingredients: Meat, pork products, zucchinis, fava beans
Famous products:
Artichokes, Spaghetti, Fettuccini
Dish:
Angel Hair pasta with Amatriciana Sauce

Chef Jean’s tip: Angel hair pasta cooks quickly; only 6-7 minutes. Alternative pasta shapes that work well with Amatriciana sauce are pasta shells, penne or normal spaghetti.

Campania

Key ingredients: Peppers, figs, lemons, eggplant, salad greens
Famous products:
Buffalo Mozzarella, Limoncello, San Marzano tomatoes
Dish:
Bufalina Pizza

Chef Jean’s tip: A thin, crispy-edged base is essential to any Neapolitan pizza. To keep the base from drying out, cook at high temperature, ideally in a wood-fired oven at 800°F, for approx. 1 minute.

Sicily

Key ingredients: Fish, especially sea bream, tuna, swordfish, cuttlefish
Famous products:
Eggplants, peppers, pistachios, capers
Dish:
Eggplant Caponata

Chef Jean’s tip: When creating this vegetarian dish, the aim is a careful balance of sweet, sour and salty flavours. Caponata is great as a side to fish or loaded on crusty bread.

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