As the oldest importer of Italian specialty goods in North America, we at Pastene are a little biased about the virtues of Italy and like all of you, we are longing for the day when we can travel internationally again, especially to “the old country”. In lieu of an actual trip to Italy, we thought we’d take you on a virtual tour and share some of the things that make Italy unique from a cultural, historical and of course, culinary standpoint. In this new blog series, you’ll get to know some of the more well-known regions of Italy, regions in which our products come from and are inspired by. We’ll explore the foods and dishes that make each region special — and most importantly — you’ll learn about the locally-inspired recipes that you can make at home.
Like the United States, each region of Italy has its unique cuisines from coast to coast. However, what unites all “Italian foods” are fresh, local ingredients and simple recipes that are as delicious as they are diverse.
Did you know?
- Campania is located on the southwestern part of Italy, along the Tyrrhenian Sea, and is home to miles of beautiful coastline, a mild climate, and delicious cuisine thanks to its bountiful Mediterranean vegetation.
- The region of Campania comprises five provinces – Avellino, Caserta, Naples, and Salerno – and some well-known cities like Naples, Amalfi, Sorrento, Benevento, Pompeii, and others.
- Napoli or Naples is considered the “birthplace of pizza,” and is home to many ‘pizzaioli’ (pizza makers) who have been perfecting their craft for centuries. What Americans consider ‘Italian-style’ pizza is actually Neapolitan pizza, and has its roots in the city’s traditional recipes.
- The Amalfi coast is a majestic 34-mile stretch of coastline dotted with 13 beautiful seaside villages, 500-foot cliffs, and over 100 beaches. It is a mecca for Italian and international tourists seeking the area’s lush vegetation, lively towns, and some of the world’s finest fish cuisine.
- Mt. Vesuvius, one of the few active volcanoes in Europe, resides on the Gulf of Naples. The volcano erupted in 79 A.D., destroying the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum.
Although pizza (glorious, glorious pizza) is likely at the top of everyone’s list of can’t-miss foods when visiting the region of Campania, there is so much more to try that will have your tastebuds screaming, “Che delizioso!”
Due to the region’s miles of coastline and rich, fertile soil, the cuisine is a tantalizing blend of both sea and land. Fish, meats, cheeses, and vegetables make up much of the Campania’s menus, with familiar, traditional fare satisfying the appetites of tourists and natives alike.
Many of Pastene’s products come from the rich Campania soil. Our 24 cuts of 100% durum semolina pasta are sourced from the city of Gragnano, which sits high on a hilltop between Monti Lattari and the Amalfi Coast. Our extra virgin olive oil is blended and bottled in San Michele di Serino in Avellino. And several varieties of our tomatoes – including our authentic San Marzano D.O.P. tomatoes – have their roots (pun intended) in the fertile soils of Campania.
Each can of Pastene’s authentic San Marzano tomatoes is individually certified with the official DOP notation, so you know you’re getting the real deal. Originally grown in the fertile, volcanic soils of Mount Vesuvius in the Sarnese-Nocerina area outside of Naples, San Marzano tomatoes have an oblong shape and a distinct semi-sweet flavor that’s ideal for sauces, bruschetta, and countless other traditional Italian recipes.
A few of Pastene’s time-tested recipes and variations have their origins in Campania. The variety and quality of the region’s ingredients make it a hotbed of culinary tradition and inspiration. Check out a few of our favorites below, and feel free to add your own twist. After all, that’s what cooking is all about!
Risotto Pomodoro e Funghi (tomatoes and mushrooms)
A blend of fresh vegetables like mushrooms, garlic, olives, and tomatoes complement a delicate and creamy rice base in this traditional risotto recipe. Though Campania’s risottos make use of the region’s plentiful seafood with the addition of shrimp or clams, we’ve opted for a more veggie-heavy twist here. Feel free to try chicken or even steak for a protein-packed dish, or add as many vegetables as you can get your hands on for a true risotto primavera!
Standard fare on menus of Italian restaurants around the world, Caprese salad is perhaps the best representation of Campania’s simple yet outrageously delicious flavors. The Caprese combines plump, sun-ripened tomatoes with loosely torn basil, mozzarella di bufala (buffalo milk cheese), and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), to create a fresh and delicious treat that’s great to serve any time of year.
Though the dish originated and was named after the island of Capri, it has become a staple dish across all of Italy (and most of the rest of the world, too!).
Pastene’s Orecchiette and Broccoli recipe is an homage to Campania’s traditional salsiccia e broccoli (sausage and broccoli) – a dish which is very popular during the colder months when it can be found on almost any menu throughout the mountains surrounding the Amalfi coast.
Broccoli rabe – one of the vegetables best suited for growth in Campania’s fertile soil (it’s OK to use regular broccoli if you can’t find broccoli rabe) – is paired with parmesan cheese, chicken broth, and garlic to create a wonderful combination of savory and bitter. Coupled with a perfectly cooked al dente orecchiette, this recipe is a testament to complementary flavors and textures. Don’t be afraid to add some chicken, shrimp, or even scallops for a little extra protein!
Have you been to the Italian region of Campania? How did the pizza compare to what you get on family pizza night here in the States? Did you try any of the more traditional dishes? If so, share what you loved most, and don’t forget to show us your Campania-inspired creations by tagging @pasteneusa or using #MyPastene on Instagram!