The only landlocked region in Italy, Umbria is located in the center of the country. Wheat and spelt, pearl barley, grapes, olives, lentils, red potatoes, sunflowers and fruits and vegetables of all kinds grow well in the fertile lands of Umbria and provide the basis for hearty Umbrian cooking. Abundant, as well, are forest animals like deer, wild pigs and venison that provide hearty proteins for the Umbrian table.
Some of the best lentils come from Umbria, in particular from Castelluccio, therefore a hearty lentil soup is a typical regional dish served as a first course or for lunch. With such a strong meaty tradition where meats are often cooked whole on a spit, Umbrian second courses appeal to meat lovers. Late summer is fig season in Umbria and they are often baked into sweet breads and pastries.
The wines of Umbria include: Sagrantino di Montefalco (DOCG) and Montefalco Rosso (DOC), but the most prestigious Umbrian wine is Torgiano Rosso “riserva” (DOCG). Orvieto produces one of Italy’s best-selling DOC whites.
The dinner menu below is inspired by the cuisine and regional foods of Umbria, Italy
Umbrian Vegetable and Sausage Lentil Soup
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 Italian sausage links, sliced thin and each slice cut in half
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
- 2 celery stalks, peeled and chopped
- 1 bell pepper, chopped
- 1 large red potato, peeled and cubed
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon coarse salt
- 1 cup lentils
- 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 28 oz. container finely chopped Italian tomatoes
- 6 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth
- 2 cups water
Heat the oil in a large Dutch Oven or soup pot. Add the sausage and brown; remove to a plate.
Add all the vegetables and garlic to the pot and saute until softened, about 10 minutes.
Add the broth, water, tomato and seasonings. Bring to a boil, lower heat to medium and cook the vegetables for 15 minutes.
Stir in the lentils and bring back to a boil, lower the heat to medium low and simmer until the lentils are tender but not mushy, about 30 to 45 minutes.
Remove the bay leaf. Serve with crusty Italian bread
Pork Scaloppine with Peppers and Onions
- 3 boneless pork loin chops, about 1 lb.
- 1/2 cup refrigerated egg substitute or 2 eggs
- 1 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/2 an onion, sliced
- 3-4 Italian frying peppers, depending on their size
- 1/2 cup pureed Italian tomatoes
- 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- Salt & pepper to taste
Trim and cut the pork chops in half lengthwise to make 6 pieces. Place a piece of plastic wrap on the countertop. Put one pork piece on top of the plastic and cover with a second piece of plastic wrap.
With a meat mallet (or heavy skillet), pound the meat into 1/4-inch thick scaloppine.
Repeat with the other 5 pieces.
Dip the scaloppini in the egg and then coat in the bread crumbs. Place breaded meat on a plate, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to cook.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet. Add the 3 scaloppini slices and brown on both sides. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate and keep warm. Repeat with the remaining oil and breaded cutlets.
Add the garlic, peppers and onions to the skillet and cook until tender. Stir in the tomatoes and Italian seasoning. Season with salt and pepper to taste and cook until heated through.
Serve the scaloppini with the pepper and onion sauce.
Roasted Cauliflower Parmesan
- 1 whole cauliflower, broken into large florets
- 3 eggs or 3/4 cup refrigerated egg substitute
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour mixed with ¼ teaspoon each of salt and pepper
- 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Grease a large baking sheet with olive oil.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Place the flour and seasonings in a large plastic bag. add the cauliflower florets, close the bag and shake until the cauliflower pieces are covered in flour.
In a deep bowl beat the eggs with a fork and add the Parmesan cheese.
Dip each piece of floured cauliflower into the egg and cheese mixture, making sure they are coated evenly on all sides.
Put them on the greased baking pan and bake for 30 minutes, turning them over halfway through the cooking time. Sprinkle lightly with salt and serve.
Fresh Fig and Almond Tart
- 1 refrigerated single 9 inch pie crust dough, at room temperature
- 15 Mission figs, tips cut off and halved
- 1/2 cup fig jam (or another jam)
- 2 tablespoons sliced almonds, toasted
- 1 tablespoon vanilla granulated sugar or regular granulated sugar
Unroll pastry and place in a buttered 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom. Flute edges.
Spread the fig jam over the bottom of the crust. Arrange the figs in a decorative pattern on top.
Sprinkle with sliced almonds and sugar.
Place the tart pan on a foil lined cookie sheet and bake at 375°F for 45-50 minutes, until golden brown.
Cool on a wire rack until serving time.