8 Italian Winter Recipes to Keep You Warm
When the cold weather hits and winter is at the door, comfort food will keep you warm and give your body the energy it needs to fight the cold. Italians from north to south look forward to the cooler temperatures to start cooking their favorite hearty meals using seasonal vegetables and produce. In winter, this means a lot of potatoes, cabbage, cauliflower, onions, fennel, citrus fruits and lentils, amongst others. Winter soups, meat ragus and cornmeal are amongst the staples of winter cuisine, and below you will find a list of the 8 most popular Italian winter dishes that you won’t be able to stop eating.
Polenta with Beef Stew
Polenta is made using ground cornmeal and is a typical dish from the north of Italy. It is boiled with water and once cooked it can be served warm with beef stew and cheese. There are various types of polenta, the most common being Bramata made with coarse cornflour. Polenta Bramata Bianca is white, finely ground and a good option to use with seafood, Polenta Taragna is made using a mix or cornmeal and buckwheat and is good for heavier dishes, while Polenta Integrale is whole grain which makes it healthier and gives it heartier flavors.
Minestrone is a traditional thick Italian soup made using a lot of vegetables, grains, short shaped pasta or rice, and may sometimes contain meat. Some of the common ingredients are carrots, celery, onions, tomatoes and beans. This soup doesn’t have a specific origin and is made all around Italy with slight differences between regions, such as the Ligurian Minestrone which includes extra herbs as well as pesto, the local delicacy.
Canederli in Broth
Originally from the Trentino Alto-Adige region in the north east of Italy, Canederli are essentially bread dumplings. To make them, the bread is soaked in milk, mixed with eggs, cheese and optionally ham, then boiled and served in broth. Other variants of Canederli, “Knodel” in German, can be found in central and eastern European countries such as Germany, Austria and Poland.
This traditional Tuscan bread soup is hearty and full of winter vegetables such as potatoes, kale and carrots. It also includes beans and is thickened using left over bread that is a day old. This soup has peasant origins and is an example of “cucina povera”. It was originally made using leftover vegetable soup from the day before, reheating it then adding the bread to thicken it up.
Gnocchi with Gorgonzola, Pear and Walnuts
Gnocchi win the hearts and tummies of anyone who tries them, and with the abundance of potatoes in winter, they are an excellent and versatile winter dish option that can be served with a variety of sauces. The combination of Gorgonzola, Pear and Walnuts with these small potato dumplings is just heavenly, but they can also be served with a simple tomato and basil sauce, or with a butter and sage sauce.
This typical dish from Lombardy has strong flavors thanks to its main ingredients which include various cuts of pork meat and savoy cabbage. The pork is usually prepared in a casserole with vegetables and cooked on low heat for about 3 hours, with the cabbage added in the last half an hour of the process. Traditionally it is eaten after the first frost of the season.
Tortellini in Brodo
Originally from the region of Emilia Romagna, Tortellini in Brodo consists of short shape pasta filled with pork meat, ham and parmesan cheese. It is served in broth, a great way of enjoying pasta in winter and keeping warm. Other northern regions serve their version of this dish, with a different filled pasta type and sometimes a different broth, such as Agnolotti Del Plin which come from Piedmont, are filled with a mix or veal and pork meats, and are served in parmesan broth.
Ossobuco with Risotto alla Milanese
A typical dish from Milan, ossobuco is braised veal shank that is prepared with vegetables, broth and white wine, and seasoned with bay leaf, cinnamon, lemon zest, garlic and parsley. It can be served on its own as a main meal or with polenta, but it is traditionally served with the typical Milanese risotto which is cooked with saffron.
Pappardelle with Wild Boar Ragu
This traditionally Tuscan meal is only served in fall and winter. It consists of Pappardelle pasta, a long, wide and flat pasta shape, served with ragu made from local wild boar, or “Cinghiale” in Italian. This dish is as authentic as they get and is a must try for anyone visiting Tuscany in the colder months.