Tuscan cuisine is known for its simplicity typically using only four to eight ingredients. “La cucina povera”, or peasant cooking is the origin of all Tuscan recipes. In Tuscany, the elaborate preparation of dishes is not popular. Instead, Tuscans take great pride in the quality of ingredients that are used in their cooking. Nothing is left to waste, as the inhabitants of ancient Tuscany could not afford to throw anything away. Typically, the ingredients include olive oil, bread and produce that is in season. The ingredients may be simple, but there is an art to cooking Tuscan food. The ingredients used simply must complement each other.
Bread is the main ingredient of many Tuscan dishes, using left over bread in many recipes. Vegetables used in cooking include all types of greens, artichokes, asparagus, fava and green beans. Wild porcini mushrooms and truffles add flavor to any Tuscan dish. Fresh fruit is also widely used.
In Tuscany, meat dishes often include wild game, including wild boar, duck and rabbit. Sauces made from wild boar are very popular. We have tasted exquisite wild boar sauce in Pienza, Montalcino and Pitigliano.
If you are going to cook a Tuscan dish, you must know how to make a “soffrito” which means under-fried in Italian. Finely chopped vegetables lightly fried in olive oil are a main ingredient of many sauces, soups and other Tuscan recipes.
If you really want to learn to cook like an Italian, be sure to join a cooking class in Tuscany and don’t stay in the kitchen the entire time.