Italian village with mountains in the background

The province of Catanzaro is one of the four provinces in the region of Calabria in southern Italy.  Catanzaro occupies both sides of the Calabrian Apennines and in the central part of the province is the isthmus of Catanzaro, a long narrow valley connecting the north and south parts of the coastline that feature beautiful white sandy beaches. Other parts of the province are mostly mountainous with steep-sided valleys formed along short rivers. There are large numbers of lakes surrounded by dense coniferous forests. The province includes much of the Sila National Park, a wild area with rough grassland and forests of pine, oak, beech and fir. The area is a main route to Naples and is a major terminal for goods traffic.

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Typical cuisine is similar to the Mediterranean diet, simple, local and healthy but also characterized by strong flavors. Extra virgin olive oil is the main condiment and is rarely replaced by lard. Hot pepper, introduced by the Saracens, is a basic ingredient in most dishes and in regional salamis.

catanzarocuisine

Pasta is mostly homemade and usually served with a simple fresh basil tomato sauce or with a ragu sauce. A traditional dish prepared for religious holidays is “pasta chijna”, layers of homemade pasta (lasagne) topped with small fried meatballs, slices of hard-boiled eggs, slices of spicy salami, caciocavallo cheese and grated pecorino cheese. You will also find pasta or bread combined in minestrone along with vegetables and herbs. Legumes are also common and replace meat in many recipes. The most used are fava beans served as a puree with tripe or with peas, lentils or chickpeas and pasta.

Among the meats, the pig is undoubtedly the most used meat, especially in winter as a second course dish.  However, most pork is used to make salami. The inland villages and towns utilize goat and sheep, of which every part of the animal is used, including the animal’s entrails, which are usually cooked with tomato, hot pepper and served inside pita bread, called “morzeddu” (the small bite).

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Along the coast fresh fish is cooked in different ways. Swordfish is usually grilled and served with a sauce called “salmoriglio” made with extra virgin olive oil, vinegar or lemon, garlic and spices. Tuna is topped with “ la cipolla” (onions), the famous red sweet onions of Tropea. Dried codfish is soaked before cooking and baby fish called “neonata ” are used to make small fritters.

Calabria is a region that produces a great variety of cheeses made with cow, sheep and goat milk. Caciocavallo cheese produced  in the Sila mountains and awarded  the DOP quality brand (protected origin designation); scamorza cheese; provola cheese and the “butirro” which is a caciocavallo with butter inside are among the most well-known cheeses. Cheeses most often made with sheep milk are fresh ricotta cheese and pecorino cheese,

The vegetables that  are commonly served are eggplant, parmigiana style or as balls; fried pumpkin and zucchini; pumpkin stem fritters; potatoes and green peppers; boiled wild vegetables (chicory, asparagus), mushrooms and dried tomatoes that can be stored in oil.

Clementines of Calabria IGP, chestnuts, figs covered with chocolate or spices are common fruits.

Typical regional sweets that are usually linked to specific days and holidays, are mostly made with ricotta sweetened with honey and flavored either by a figs or dried fruit or candied fruit. The best known are the multi-shaped “mostaccioli”, covered with honey.

catanzaroanchovies

 

Anchovies al Cetrarese

Cetraro, an important port in the Tirreno sea, where anchovies are caught in abundance.

Ingredients for 6

  • 1 ¾ lbs. (720 gr) anchovies, bones removed
  • 8 ½ oz (240 g.) stale bread
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 oz (60 gr) grated Pecorino cheese
  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • Chopped fresh wild fennel fronds
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Make a stuffing with the stale bread soaked in water and hand squeezed, wild fennel, eggs, salt, black pepper and grated Pecorino cheese.

Put anchovies in an oiled baking dish and stuff each with some of the bread mixture. Bake for 10 minutes.

Add wine and bake for another 5 minutes. Serve drizzled with the cooking juices and garnish with a handful of fennel fronds.

catanzaropasta

Bucatini Pasta with Anchovy and Bread Sauce

Ingredients for 4

  • 12 ½ oz (350 gr) Bucatini pasta
  • 2 finely chopped garlic cloves
  • 8 salt cured anchovies
  • 1 fresh chili pepper
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Oven toasted bread crumbs
  • 2 oz (60 gr) grated Pecorino cheese
  • Salt to taste

Directions

Heat the oil in a skillet and brown the garlic; add finely chopped chili pepper. Add the anchovies and breadcrumbs.

Cook the pasta in a large pan of lightly salted water. Drain when the pasta is al dente. Add the pasta to the pan with the anchovies, season with pecorino cheese and serve.

catanzaropork

Arrotolata Pork with Citrus Fruit

Ingredients for 6

  • 2 ¼ lbs (1 kg) boneless pork
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Fennel seeds, rosemary, pistachio nuts, parsley and 2 garlic cloves
  • Olive oil

Salsa:

  • 1 lemon
  • 1 cedro (citron/ugly looking Italian citrus fruit – use an orange in its place)
  • 1 grapefruit
  • Salt and pepper to taste, extra virgin olive oil and green onions

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Butterfly the meat and season the inside with salt and pepper. Finely chop some parsley and the garlic. Spread on the meat and add fennel seeds and pistachios to cover. Moisten with olive oil.

Roll up the meat and close with cooking string. Season the outside with salt and pepper. Place in a baking dish.

Cook for about an hour and a half. Remove from the oven and cool for a couple of hours.

For the salsa:

Squeeze the lemon and grapefruit and finely chop the cedro peel. Season with salt and mix with enough oil to make a sauce. Add finely chopped onions.

Slice the pork when cool and serve on a plate dressed with the salsa.

catanzarofish

Sea Bream Stuffed with Ricotta

Sea Bream is a popular European fish that is a mild ocean fish similar to sea bass

Ingredients for 4

  • 4 small sea beam
  • 5 ½ oz (16og) ricotta cheese
  • ¾ tablespoon (16g) honey
  • 2 tablespoons chopped almonds
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon chopped mint
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 3 oz arugula
  • Salt
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Lemon juice
  • Ground red chilli pepper to taste
  • Mashed potatoes for serving
  • Almonds and parsley for garnish

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Remove the center bone from the fish. Lightly salt the fish.

Mix the ricotta cheese with the pine nuts, almonds, chopped mint, parsley, garlic, arugula, honey and a pinch of salt. Add enough lemon juice and oil to make a smooth filling.

Stuff each fish with some of the filling, cover the filling with foil and put the fish in an oiled baking dish.

Bake for 10 minutes.

Serve each fish on a bed of mashed potatoes. Garnish with almonds, parsley and ground chili pepper.

catanzarodessert

Aubergine and Chocolate Mousse

This is a sweet but unusual dessert.

Ingredients for 6

  • 10 ½ oz (300g) aubergine (eggplant)
  • 10 ½ oz (300g) chocolate, plus extra for serving
  • 1/1/2 oz (50g) citron
  • 2 tablespoons chopped mint
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) brandy
  • 1 tablespoon sultanas (raisins)
  • 1 tablespoon pine nuts
  • 1 tablespoon (10g) candied fruit
  • ¼ cup (30g) sugar
  • 2 egg whites

Directions

Peel and boil the aubergine in water along with the brandy and citron. Drain.

Beat the egg whites until stiff.

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler saucepan.

Mix the aubergine and melted chocolate together adding mint, pine nuts, candied fruit, sugar. Fold in the beaten egg whites.

Fill small pots or bowls with the mixture and cool. Serve drizzled with additional melted chocolate.

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