Regional Italian Spotlight: Abruzzo

In this new series, we’ll look more closely at a 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 central Italy and to Abruzzo.

Abruzzo is located in central Italy, on the Adriatic (west) coast and framed by the Apennine mountains. It really contains two cuisines – coastal and mountain. It’s known for pasta, lamb and fish, and specialty items like saffron, red garlic and sheep’s milk cheeses. The food of Abruzzo is mostly simple, inexpensive, rustic fare, featuring less tomato than the south, lots of wild aromatic herbs, bold flavors, crushed red pepper (peperoncino) for heat and extra-virgin olive oil.

Featured dish: Cellentani with Spicy Lamb Ragout and Chicories with Pecorino Romano. This dish highlights the lamb and sheep’s milk cheeses that are typical of the region. The chicories are also a local favorite in Abruzzo, and provide an earthy quality and a touch of bitterness to balance the sweetness of the lamb, umami of the cheese and spiciness of the peperoncino.