Venetian cuisine is usually divided into three main categories that are based on geography: the coastal areas, the plains and the mountains. Each one (especially the plains) can have many local cuisines – each city with its own dishes and preparation. The most common dish across the region is polenta, which is utilized in various ways within the local cuisines.
Coastal areas serve mainly seafood dishes.
In the plains, it is very popular to serve grilled meat (usually a mix of pork, beef and chicken) together with grilled polenta, potatoes and vegetables. Other popular dishes include risotto made with vegetables, mushrooms, pumpkin, radicchio, seafood, pork or chicken livers.
Bigoli (a typical Venetian fresh pasta, similar to a thick spaghetti), handmade fettuccine, ravioli and the similar tortelli (filled with meat, cheese, vegetables or pumpkin) and gnocchi (made from potatoes) are pastas that are served with meat sauce (ragù), often made from duck, and, sometimes, with added mushrooms or peas or the pasta is simply dressed with melted butter.
The mountain area cuisine consists mainly of pork or game meat served with polenta, mushrooms or vegetables and cheese. You may also find some dishes from the Austrian or Tyrolese tradition, such as canederli (potato/ bread dumpling) and sweet or savory strudel. A typical dish is casunziei, hand-made fresh pasta similar to ravioli that usually contain a roasted beet and smoked ricotta stuffing.
Venetian cuisine is typically seasoned with butter, olive oil, sunflower oil, vinegar, white wine, mostarda or salsa verde.
Sweet and Sour Sardines
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 1/4 cup raisins
- 2 lb. sardines, cleaned
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 3/4 cups olive oil
- 1 large white onion, sliced thin
- 1/3 cup white wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup pine nuts (pignoli)
Combine wine and raisins in a bowl. Soak for 30 minutes; drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, heat the broiler to high. Season sardines with salt and pepper on a baking sheet. Broil, until cooked, about 2 minutes; cool.
Heat oil in a 4-qt. pan over medium-high heat. Add onion; cook until browned, 10–12 minutes. Add vinegar, reduce heat to medium-low and cook until soft, 6–8 minutes. Stir in raisins, pine nuts and salt and pepper; let cool.
Place half the sardines in the bottom of an 8″ x 8″ dish; cover with half the onion mixture. Place remaining sardines on top; cover with the remaining onion mixture.
Marinate the sardines in the refrigerator for 4 hours. Serve with crusty Italian bread.
Bigoli in Salsa
- 14 oz bigoli/whole wheat thick spaghetti
- 5 anchovies
- 2 large onions
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Black pepper
- ½ cup dry white wine
Chop the anchovies and set aside.
Peel the onions and slice as thinly as you possibly can. Heat oil in a skillet with a cover, then turn heat to medium low and add onions. Cover the pan and cook the onions for 10 minutes, stirring frequently until the onions are a light gold color; do not let them brown.
Turn the heat down to low and add the anchovies, breaking them into a paste with a wooden spoon.
Add the wine, a little at a time, letting the wine evaporate before adding more. Add a big pinch of black pepper. Put the lid back on and cook gently on low heat for 10 minutes, so that the onions gradually melt into a creamy caramelized sauce.
Cook the bigoli/spaghetti in salted water according to package directions, then drain and add to the skillet with the onion mix. Turn the heat up high for a minute, mixing thoroughly.
To serve: grind additional fresh black pepper over each dish.
Pollo del Borgo (Chicken of the Village)
- 3 lb chicken, cut into serving pieces
- 2 onions, thinly sliced
- 2 zucchini, sliced into rounds
- 10 cherry tomatoes
- ½ cup tomato puree
- ½ cup chicken broth, plus more if needed
- 1 large bay leaf
- 1 sprig of rosemary
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup dry white wine
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- Griled Polenta, recipe below
Heat the butter and oil in a pan large enough to fit all the chicken in a single layer.
Salt and pepper the chicken pieces. Add the chicken to the skillet and brown the pieces on all sides. Remove to a plate.
Add the onions, rosemary and the garlic to the skillet and cook until the onions soften. Return the chicken to the pan.
Add the white wine and cook until it has all evaporated.
Add the tomato puree, the bay leaf, zucchini and chicken broth. Cook for another 40 minutes on a low heat, turning the chicken occasionally and adding broth when needed to keep the sauce from reducing too much. Serve with grilled polenta.
- 1 1/2 tablespoons coarse salt
- 1 2/3 cups polenta
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Put salt into 7 cups of cold water in a medium heavy pot. Add polenta and whisk. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring often; add oil, then reduce heat to medium and continue cooking, stirring often with a wooden spoon, until polenta thickens and pulls away slightly from the bottom and sides of the pot, 20–30 minutes (depending on the polenta grind).
Pour into a greased square or rectangle glass dish; cool.
Turn out onto a bread board and cut into serving pieces with a wet knife.
Grill on a very hot, dry grill or sear in a nonstick skillet until golden brown.
Pincia – Veneto Bread Pudding
The Pincia is one of the oldest sweets in the Venice region. It’s traditionally served at Christmas.
- 1 lb (3 cups) stale bread without the crust, cut into small cubes
- 6 cups milk
- 3/4 cups all purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup raisins
- 2 eggs
- Pinch of salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground fennel or mace
- 1/4 cup dry plain breadcrumbs
- 1/4 cup sliced almonds
- Powdered sugar
Grease a 9×13 inch baking pan and sprinkle with the bread crumbs. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Soak the raisins in warm water to cover. Put the bread cubes in a bowl and pour the milk over the bread.
let both soak for half an hour. Drain the raisins.
Beat the butter, sugar and eggs in an electric mixer. Add the flour, ground fennel and the soaked raisins. Mix well.
Pour butter/egg mixture over the bread/milk mixture and mix well.
Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and sprinkle the top with sliced almonds.
Bake for about an hour until firm or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
Let cool in the pan; remove and dust with powdered sugar.
- Brudet (Croatian Seafood Stew) (thedomesticman.com)
- Polenta Chips (incrednibbles.wordpress.com)
Holidays with traditional family meals as part of the celebration often result in lots of leftovers. When you get tired of leftover ham or turkey or egg salad sandwiches, its time to get creative.
Here are a few ideas for Easter dinner leftovers, using some of the most common foods served at Easter time.
Leftover ham? Slice it, chop it and freeze it in plastic bags to mix into future omelettes, soups or hash browned potatoes.
Leftover asparagus? Make an asparagus omelette. Chop the already cooked asparagus and add to beaten eggs, add a little grated cheddar or American cheese and make an omelette for a quick lunch or dinner.
Leftover turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes? Make a quick Shepherd’s pie. Slice the turkey meat, then layer it on the bottom of a greased baking pan, pour leftover turkey gravy over it, layer leftover stuffing on top, layer any leftover veggie over that and, lastly, layer leftover mashed potatoes on top. Press everything down firmly and bake at 350 degrees F. for about 35-40 minutes or until heated through and the potatoes brown. Cut into squares and serve hot.
Leftover pork roast? Make a great panini sandwich. Cut leftover roast into 9 thin slices. Drain a 7 oz jar of roasted red peppers and cut into 6 slices. Spread 2 teaspoons of pesto sauce on each of 6 slices of country bread. Top 3 slices of pesto covered bread with 3 slices of pork, 2 slices of red pepper, 1 slice of cheese of choice and a slice of pesto covered bread. Cook in a panini press according to machine directions. Makes 3 sandwiches.
Just a few recipes below, but don’t let your leftovers go to waste. Think of a way to use them.
Ham and Asparagus Frittata
Serves 4 to 6
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons finely chopped onion
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup chopped ham
Leftover asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
Preheat oven to 400°F. In an ovenproof skillet on the stovetop, heat olive oil and sauté onion until barely softened.
In a medium bowl, beat eggs then add cheese. Pour into hot pan. Top with ham and asparagus. Turn heat to low and cook 2—3 minutes to seal bottom.
Place skillet in the oven and cook an additional 20 minutes or until puffed and barely set. Remove and cool slightly.
Serve with a salad and whole wheat biscuits.
- 3 tablespoons white-wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons finely minced shallot
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 10 cups mixed salad greens
- 8 ounces shredded cooked beef, chicken, turkey, ham or seafood
- 2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and chopped (dyed Easter Eggs work here)
- 2 medium tomatoes, diced
- 1 large cucumber, seeded and sliced
- 1 avocado, diced or use leftover vegetables
- 2 slices cooked turkey bacon, crumbled
- 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese, (optional)
Whisk vinegar, shallot, mustard, pepper and salt in a small bowl to combine. Whisk in oil until combined.
Place salad greens in a large bowl. Add half of the dressing and toss to coat.
Divide the greens among 4 plates. Arrange equal portions of meat, egg, tomatoes, cucumber, avocado, bacon and blue cheese (if using) on top of the lettuce.
Drizzle the salads with the remaining dressing.
Mediterranean Deviled Eggs
Makes 12 deviled eggs
- 6 colored hard boiled eggs leftover from Easter
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley, more for garnish
- 1 ½ teaspoons finely chopped, rinsed capers
- 3 anchovy fillets, cut in half
- 1/2 a lemon zested, finely minced
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 1/2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 1 ½ teaspoons Dijon mustard
- Ground black pepper to taste
Peel and slice eggs lengthwise. Remove yolks and place them in a medium bowl. Arrange egg white halves on a serving plate.
To prepare the filling: add parsley, capers, lemon zest and juice, mayonnaise, mustard and 1 tablespoon water to yolks and mash. Add pepper to taste. Scoop filling into egg white halves. Top each with an anchovy half and sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve.
Variation: mash anchovies and add to the yolk mixture when adding the other ingredients.
Leftover Roast Beef Soup
- 2 medium yellow onions, cut into small wedges
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- 2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 lbs leftover cooked beef, chopped
- 64 ounces low sodium beef stock or beef broth
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- salt, to taste
- black pepper, to taste
- 8 ounces uncooked egg noodles or pasta of choice
In a large pot, cook onions, celery, mushrooms and garlic in oil until onions are golden.
Stir in the cooked beef.
Add the beef broth, Italian seasoning and the Worcestershire, stirring to mix and seasoning to taste with salt and pepper Bring mixture to a boil and stir in uncooked egg noodles.
Reduce heat and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10-12 minutes or until noodles are tender.
Leftover Dinner Lasagna
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Dash white pepper
- 3 cups lowfat milk
- 1/4 cup finely chopped green onions
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
- 9 lasagna noodles, cooked and drained
- 2 cups diced fully cooked ham or ant leftover meat
- 2 cups leftover vegetables, such as broccoli, asparagus, peas, spinach etc.
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 3 cups (12 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
In a heavy saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in flour, salt and pepper until smooth. Gradually add milk. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Remove from the heat; stir in the onions, lemon juice and hot pepper sauce.
Spread a fourth of the white sauce in a greased 13-inch x 9-inch baking dish. Layer with three noodles, half of the ham and vegetables, 3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, 1 cup cheddar cheese and a fourth of the white sauce.
Repeat layers. Top with the remaining noodles, white sauce and cheeses.
Bake uncovered at 350° for 40-45 minutes or until bubbly. Let stand for 15 minutes before cutting. Yield: 12 servings.
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 pound cooked lamb or beef, cut into 1 inch cubes
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 medium-sized eggplant, peeled (if desired) and cut into 1 inch cubes, tossed with 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 3 red bell peppers, cut into 1 inch cubes
- 1/4 cup white wine or all stock can be used
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 2 medium zucchini, cut into 1 inch cubes
- 3 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
- A sprig each of fresh thyme, parsley and basil
- Salt and pepper
In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat and add the onions and garlic. Saute for about 2 minute; then add the eggplant. Mix and let the eggplant brown slightly, then add the wine. Cook until the wine is reduced, about 3 minutes.
Add 1/4 cup chicken stock. When the chicken stock has reduced add the zucchini, red peppers and tomatoes. Stir everything together and add herbs and season with salt and pepper.
Add another 1/4 cup chicken stock and let it reduce and continue adding the remaining stock, 1/4 cup at a time. Simmer until the eggplant is cooked to the desired texture and mixture has thickened. Stir in the leftover lamb and heat.
- 1 lb pizza dough, store bought or homemade, at room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups marinara sauce
- 2 cups shredded roasted chicken breast or any leftover meat
- 1 1/2 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella
- 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- 1/3 cup chopped red onions
- 1/3 cup diced green or red bell pepper
- Shredded basil for garnish
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Stretch dough out to fit your pizza pan (about 14 inches round or a 9 x 13-inch rectangle).
Spread 1 1/2 cups of sauce over the dough and arrange chicken on top of the sauce.
Sprinkle mozzarella, Parmesan cheese, bell pepper and onions over the top.
Bake 15-20 minutes or until crust is lightly browned and cheese is bubbly. Top with shredded basil before serving.
Rhubarb Bread Pudding
Use up leftover bread for a dessert. Any fruit can be substituted for the rhubarb in this recipe.
- 8 slices bread without crusts, toasted and cubed
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 1/4 cup butter or margarine
- 5 eggs or egg substitute equivalent
- 1 1/4 cups white sugar or sugar substitute for baking
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups diced rhubarb
- 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F .
Place bread cubes into a buttered 2 quart casserole dish.
Combine the milk and butter in a saucepan and heat just to the boiling point. Pour over the bread cube and let stand for 15 minutes.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, cinnamon and salt. Stir in rhubarb. Pour over the soaked bread and stir gently until evenly blended. Sprinkle walnuts over the top.
Bake for 50 minutes or until the top is brown and a knife inserted 1 inch from the edge comes out clean. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.
- Creamy Scalloped Potatoes and Ham (afunfoodie.wordpress.com)
- Ham Salad Sandwiches-Deli Ham (recipesforourdailybread.com)
- From the kitchen: Asparagus, Prosciutto & Caramelized Onion Tart (loveandcupcakesblog.com)
- Ten Fun Ideas for Using Leftover Boiled Eggs, Ham, or Asparagus from Easter (kalynskitchen.com)
- What to do with Easter Leftovers (omimattress.com)