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 and to the region of Piedmont.
Piedmont is located in northwestern Italy, from the Apennines mountains to soft rolling hills to the flat plains that line the Po River.
This is good land and climate for grazing cattle, for not only the famous Piedmontese beef cattle but also in cows milk cheeses like taleggio, tome and Castelmagno.
Piedmont’s ample forest areas are a haven for chestnuts and hazelnuts in their season, and of course their famous white truffles. The latter are an ideal accompaniment to pasta, from tagliatelle to the stuffed agnolotti that are typical of the region. Though peak truffle season is October-November for fresh truffles di alba, these days you can find good quality products year-round from companies like Urbani.
Perhaps the most iconic dish of Piedmont is Bagna Cauda, or “hot bath.” It’s a kind of fondue made with garlic and anchovy-scented olive oil that you share with friends and dip a variety of crunchy veggies into, like the local “hunchback” cardoons or cardo gobbo.
You see these ingredients and flavors on display in restaurants invoking the cuisine of Piedmont here in the US, at San Carlo in New York, or Osteria Lange in Chicago. Both feature bagna cauda (of course) but also tajarin, the piedmontese name for tagliatelle pasta, served the traditional way with a slow-braised beef ragout.
Here chef Lorenzo Boni takes those flavors and the crunchy veggies and pairs it with pasta.
Featured dish: Creamy Bagna Cauda and Crunchy Vegetable Casarecce
This dish is a riff on the classic Bagna Cauda (“hot bath”) dip of anchovies, garlic, butter and oil from Piedmont. Here, Barilla Executive Chef Lorenzo Boni takes those flavors and even keeps the al dente bite of the vegetables, but serves it on a pasta platform. The scroll-like batons of casarecce are a perfect foil. Swap in your favorite “crunchy” veggies to your liking and the seasons; cardoons, fennel, artichokes, cauliflower and just about any summer squash.