Campania maintains some of Italy’s most treasured culinary highlights. Many of the world-known Italian dishes have their roots in Campania: pizza, spaghetti, mozzarella, limoncello, cannelloni… Italians know Campania well for being one of the tastiest regions offering the best food imaginable. Roman history has had a profound effect on the food eaten across the region too. The Romans always valued Campania for its vast pastureland and nutrient-rich soils, and many practices that continue to exist today started in Roman times.
Let us look at some of the delicacies of Campania:
With the countless pizza toppings offered in pizzerias all over the world, the fact that the Margherita – a simple combination of tomato sauce, fresh basil and cheese – still reigns supreme is testament to the pizza chefs of Naples. From his pizzeria in Caiazzo Franco Pepe creates some of the best pizzas in the world. His Margherita – though not entirely traditional – is iconic, bringing together all the recognisable flavours of a classic Margherita in a new form. Check out his recipe here, or go for something more traditional.
Spaghetti alle Vongole
Spaghetti is a favourite pasta shape along the Campanese coast – it's perfect for swirling around in all those light seafood sauces. Spaghetti alle vongole is one of the most famous dishes, making the most of the lovely juicy clams caught in the Tyrrhenin Sea, and there's nowhere better to eat it than Campania.
Spaghetti with Colatura di Alici
If there's one thing you should eat whilst you're in Campania, it's spaghetti with colatura di alici – the incredible semi-fermented anchovy liquid from Cetara. The simple combination of colatura, olive oil, garlic, parsley and chilli is unbeatable and truly captures the essence of the area.
There's nowhere better to eat seafood in Italy than along the Amalfi Coast, and squeezing lemon over a bowl of fritto misto whilst sitting on a sun-lounger overlooking the Gulf of Naples is a bucket list experience. The fresher your seafood, the better your fritto misto will taste, but there are a few other tricks to getting a really crispy finish. Check out Pasquale Torrente's recipe to see how to recreate this dish at home.
Mozzarella di bufala, tomato and fresh basil – that's all you need to put one of the world's great salads on the table. The key, of course, is having the absolute best ingredients you can buy, but there are other ways to elevate it too, as shown in this recipe. Hailing from the seriously luxe island of Capri, every bite of this salad offers a true taste of La Dolce Vita.
Octopus is a favourite in Campania, with boatloads of the cephalopods caught off its coast every day. This traditional Campanese dish shows how simple it is to prepare, searing baby octopi in garlic-infused olive oil before braising them in a chilli-flecked tomato sauce until meltingly soft and tender.
These crispy, many-layered 'lobster tails' are a hugely popular delicacy in Campania – the region where they were first created – and come with delightful semolina and ricotta filling. It takes a delicate touch and a bit of practice to get these right – which is why they're regarded as an artisan speciality in Italy – but Salvatore Elefante's recipe is a great starting point if you want to try making them at home.
A popular cake to create during Easter all over Italy, pastiera evokes all the typical aromas of Campania with candied peel and orange flower water. There's no reason why you can't eat it year-round though – it makes a great breakfast or snack with afternoon tea. What makes it unique is the inclusion of grano cotto, a type of pre-cooked wheat grain available throughout Italy (although some cooks substitute this with risotto rice for a similar finish).
Pasta alla Sorrentina
We have much to thank Campania for when it comes to food. Not only did it give us pizza, mozzarella and colatura, it also gave us cannelloni! These large tubular pasta shapes originally hail from the famous seaside town of Sorrento, and are most commonly served with the iconic combination of tomato, basil and mozzarella.
Rum babà arrived in Campania courtesy of travelling French chefs and pâtissières, but the region has made this dessert its own over the years. A feather-light sponge soaked in a citrus and rum syrup before being glazed in apricot jam. Check out Valeria Necchio's fantastic recipe if you fancy making your own.
Lasagne di Carnevale
Lasagne was traditionally served in Naples to celebrate the city's carnival, but these days it's a common sight all across Italy (and the world). One-upping the traditional lasagne most of us are familiar with, the Neapolitan version contains rich ricotta, a silky ragù, tiny little meatballs and hard-boiled eggs. A celebratory dish of epic proportions.
This incredible dish of meat slow-cooked in a rich tomato sauce contains two courses – a primi, in which the sauce is used to dress pasta, and then a main where the cuts of beef are lifted out of the pan and sliced. It's a labour of love to produce, requiring hours of slow-cooking to achieve, but it's one of Naples' most beloved dishes and perfect for a family get-together.
Campania gives us a variety of delicacies making its way from history and tradition. When do you plan to visit Campania?
Source: Great Italian Chef