Here are the best food and flavors to be enjoyed in Italy when the Fall season comes
Autumn is here and is time to try the best of Italy’s recipes for the fall season. Contrary to popular belief, Italy does not enjoy warm Mediterranean sunshine all year round, especially in the Northern and central regions. It can get fairly cold and rainy in the autumn, which means it’s time to switch out the limoncello and gelato for some warm and hearty traditional recipes, which are just as delicious. From snacks and appetizers to wines and desserts, as well as first and second courses, here are the best Italian autumn recipes to fall in love with this season.
Castagnaccio & Roasted Chestnuts
Vendors selling roasted chestnuts are a common sight on the street corners in major cities like Florence and Rome during the autumn and winter seasons. They can even be incorporated into other dishes like soups, pastas, and chocolates. Speaking of sweets, "castagnaccio" is a rich, thick cake made from chestnut flour typical of the Tuscan and Umbrian regions. Don’t forget to pick up a slice or buy a whole cake from a local pasticceria before you leave Italy.
Tartufo nero and tartufo bianco
A favorite among Italian cuisine, truffles, a type of mushroom, are a highly versatile ingredient that can be combined with many kinds of dish, especially during the fall season. After they’re picked from the forests, truffles can be enjoyed in many different forms in many different recipes, such as on a paste on crostini, blended into sauces, or shaved onto pastas, with tagliolini al tartufo being probably the simplest and best way to savour tartufo. The two most popular types of truffles are tartufo nero (black truffles) and tartufo bianco (white truffles). Tartufo nero is sweeter whereas tartufo bianco has a stronger flavor (and is also much more expensive). Both are typical of central Italian regions like Tuscany and Umbria, but tartufo bianco is especially found in the Piedmont region. In the town of Alba every year takes place the International White Truffle Fair, an important and popular event for both professionals in the food industry and lovers of the super delicious white truffles.
Vegetable minestrone is simply a classic vegetable soup with a hearty broth and oftentimes with some type of pasta added (ditalini, cannellini or other), perfect for keeping warm on chilly, rainy afternoons. This dish isn’t typical of any one or two regions, so it can be enjoyed wherever you are in the country. Vegetable minestrone contains both seasonal and year-round veggies like carrots, potatoes, and onions, as well as other greens more typical of whichever region you’re eating it in.
Risotto with Porcini Mushrooms
Like tartufo nero or truffles, porcini mushrooms are another popular player in traditional Italian fall dishes. Mostly found in the northern regions like Piedmont and Emilia-Romagna, porcini mushrooms can be enjoyed in delicious risotto or tagliatelle. They are also great by themselves as an appetizer or contorno: try the grilled cappelle di porcino!
The pumpkin treats craze that occurs every autumn is not just exclusive to the United States. Though pumpkins are not as commonly found in Italy as the States or northern European countries, Italians have still found a way to cook them into many delicious dishes for the fall. For example, if you’re in Milan, try a plate of pumpkin tortelli for lunch. If tortelli is not your thing, you can also try other recipes with "zucca" like pumpkin risotto, gnocchi, or penne.
Tuscany is beloved for its rich, rustic meats and ragu’ di cinghiale, or wild boar ragu, is the region’s crown jewel. A plate of pici pasta with cinghiale sauce is a perfectly warm and hearty dish to enjoy after long, crisp walks through the foliage in the Tuscan hills, or after hopping between art museums in the rainy streets of Florence. Like porcini mushrooms and pumpkin, cinghiale is another ingredient that can be enjoyed in many other fall recipes, like cinghiale pappardelle, or as rolls of salami with cheeses and bruschetta.
Schiacciata con l’uva
Schiacciata with uva, or grapes, is a sweet, special type of bread pastry typical of Florence. It’s best paired with panoramic views of the Chianti countryside on a crisp afternoon in September, just after the grape harvest. But it’s not the only fruity dessert you can indulge in Italy this season,
Apple strudel is a dessert more associated with Italy’s neighbors to the north than Italy itself, but if you travel up the region of Trentino-Alto Adige, in the Alps near the border between Switzerland and Austria, you’ll find a wide variety of warm, sweet apple strudel recipes. No two apple strudel recipes are the same between the different towns and even families, but Italian apple strudels are usually made with cooked Golden Delicious apples, cinnamon, pine nuts, and raisins inside a thin, glazed crust. They are best enjoyed from early September through to October, just after the harvest.
Vino and Olio Novello
Mushrooms and apples aren’t the only fresh, ripe ingredients to enjoy in the fall. When not baked into schiacciata, newly harvested grapes are of course turned into Italy’s most famous drink, red wine. Its young, fresh variant is also known as Vino Novello, or New Wine, best paired with cinghiale and cheeses for a light snack, or with porcini and pici al ragu for dinner. Another ripe young harvest is Olio Novello, or New Oil. Both the Vino and Olio Novello are best tried in November, around Tuscany and the surrounding northern-central regions like Umbria. Read more about the new oil here.