The Cuisine of Liguria
By: Liz Flynn
Located along the northwestern coast of Italy, the Italian Riviera, lies the Liguria region. The cuisine eaten in this area is extremely diverse and uses a wide range of ingredients. In spite of the availability of such a range of produce, the food is best-known for its simplicity. Here is an overview of the cuisine of Liguria.
Basil and Pesto
Large amounts of basil grow on the hillsides in Liguria so this is a herb that is widely used in traditional dishes. The area is known for pesto. This combines basil, pine nuts, Parmigiano-Reggiano, garlic and olive oil.
Much of the terrain in Liguria is not suitable for growing wheat, so much of the flour is made using chickpeas. The bread the region is most famous for is focaccia. There is evidence that shows this bread has been made in Liguria for over two thousand years.
As this is a coastal region, fish and seafood feature highly in traditional local cuisine. Fish is served in many ways, including baked, fried, roasted, or grilled. It is also used as an ingredient in stews and soups. When eating in restaurants along the coast, you will see specialty dishes featuring the catch of the day. A popular appetizer is a soup called Ciuppin and this can contain any type of seafood or fish; people simply add their favorites to the soup along with stale bread and tomatoes. However, the dish was originally made as a way of using up any leftovers from the seafood markets.
Another way that the Ligurians eat seafood is by preserving it in either oil, vinegar, or salt. Tuna, sardines, and anchovies are preserved and eaten on biscuits. Salt cod is another popular choice and it combined with other ingredients to create a dish called stocchefisce accomodou. The other ingredients include potatoes, pine nuts, olives, mushrooms, vegetables, and herbs.
The meats most commonly eaten in Liguria are veal and rabbit. A popular traditional meal is cima ripiena. This is veal stuffed with vegetables, cheese, pistachios, and egg. Meat is also served on skewers or in stews.
In Liguria, both fresh and dried pasta are staples of the Ligurian diet. One specialty of this area is pansouti con la salsa di noci. This is pasta dough made into pockets that are filled with ricotta and a seasoning called preboggion, containing, chervil, herbs, chicory, and borage.