In this series, we look more closely at lesser-known region of Italy in every issue. As consumers continue to clamor for authentic, regional foods from Italy, it pays to be in the know! This month, we travel to the South and to Campania.
Located in Southern Italy, Campania stretches from the gulf of Naples to the famous Amalfi coast. Campania is the birthplace of pizza and the world-renowned Pizza Margherita, said to have been created in Naples in the mid-1800s. Today, authentic Pizza Napoletana is known around the world and is enjoying a surge of popularity here in the USA.
Campania is a strong growing region for wheat, especially the semolina used in pastry, pasta and breads of the region. Citrus, melons, almonds and walnuts are specialties of the region. It’s also known for tomatoes, as home to the internationally famous San Marzano tomato found canned, fresh and sun-dried. The volcanic soils around Mt. Vesuvius are the key to their special quality; they just don’t taste the same grown anywhere else!
Another special tomato from the region is the Piennolo cherry tomato, prized for its intense flavor and sweetness. They’re featured at Gio’s Chicken Amalfitano in Atlanta, in their Sorrentino pasta dish with buffalo mozzarella, olive oil and basil. That dish is a prime example of the traditionally “cucina povera,” style of Campanian food, using simple, inexpensive ingredients like pasta, fresh herbs and vegetables. San Francisco and Oakland’s A16 (named for the highway that runs from Naples to Bari) brings Campania to life not just in its famous pizza, but in appetizers like the Trippa Napoletana, a slow-cooked honeycomb tripe in tomatoes, white wine and chile flakes; and pasta dishes like Maccaronaro, pasta with a classic Neapolitan ragu and ricotta salata.
Featured dish: Spaghetti Frittata di Napoli – this is a classic “picnic” dish from Naples, made for the weekend using leftover pasta, a mild melting cheese and pancetta or ham. It’s meant to be eaten cold or at room temperature, with a flavorful condiment like the pesto here.
For more inspiration, see another recipe here.