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 Northern Italy’s Lombardy.
The Lombardy region ranges from Lake Como to Milan. It’s a land of lakes and gentle hills, great for grazing cattle, growing grapes, citrus and olives; the last especially thrives in the microclimate around Lake Como.
The region is known for risotto, polenta, beef, and cows’ milk cheeses like the famous gorgonzola. Because of Lombardy’s dairy cattle, butter is used more frequently than olive oil. Northern Italy is also the traditional home of whole wheat pastas. The harsh winters meant nothing was wasted, so pasta makers traditionally used the entire grain and even other products like chestnuts in their pastas.
This dish highlights the whole grains and gorgonzola of Lombardy and the ideal flavor-pairing principles of whole grain pasta with smoked or roasted tomatoes. The finishing oil made with sorrel – a forgotten gem in the herb pantry – grows wild in the pastures of Lombardy, and adds a splash of color and flavor contrast to the dish.