The Tuscan cuisine (cucina toscana), typical expression of the healthy and tasty Mediterranean diet, is known and appreciated in the whole world because its dishes are rich in natural, genuine and delicious ingredients. It is a simple cuisine but full of traditions, made of flavours never lost over time, based on dishes invented with the products generously offered by the market garden and by the woods, accompanied with home bred meats, with strictly only extra virgin olive oil, with an unequalled bread and with a wine for real connoisseurs.
Nonetheless, there are also rich dishes, as for example those in which the white truffle is used (Tuscany is indeed a white truffle mine). There are also dishes that recall Tuscany’s noble tradition, dishes in which the ever fresh seafood from the coast is used, such as oysters and lobster. In Tuscany, the cuisine however always represents a popular culture, the Tuscan people being gourmets, always wishing to unite together the taste of food and drink, and always looking for feeling good at the table.
Here are some of the most famous typical dishes:
- In the province of Massa Carrara:
- the lard of Colonnata, cut it into slices and then put between two slices of rustic bread along with a few pieces of tomatoes; the lamb of Zeri, which meat, very tender and sweet to the palate, has a very definite fragrance. It can be prepared in different ways; typically, it is cooked with terracotta plates (testi) and served with potatoes of Zeri; the testaroli of Lunigiana cooked under the ashes and seasoned with pesto or olive oil and grated ewe’s cheese (pecorino); the panigacci of Podenzana, typical dish of Lunigiana cooked in the fire-place, in terracotta plates, made by local craftsmen, that are put on top of each other; the rice cake (torta di riso), a cake made from rice and milk latte which origins come from several villages ( Torano, Bedizzano and Mirteto );
- In the province of Lucca:
- The castagnaccio (chestnut cake) and the necci (chestnut crêpes) stuffed with ricotta cheese, both prepared with the chestnut flour of Garfagnana, also commonly called "flour of neccio"; The Spelt Wheat minestra (minestra di farro), typical dish of Garfagnana, which is not only exquisite but also particularly healthy; the infarinata, the risotto al piccione (pigeon risotto), the rosticciana di maiale (pork roast), the funghi trifolati (truffled mushrooms), the torta di ceci (chickpea tart) simply called “torta” in Pisa and Livorno, also called "calda calda" in Massa and Carrara, and "cecina" in Versilia; It is prepared above all in the pizzerias where it is sold even in slices; the befanini, biscuits baked in animal, star, heart and befana shaped molds; the bruschetta, i.e., toasted slices of bread, seasoned by spreading various sauces – olive, truffle, tuna, etc. sauces – that are served as appetizer.
- In the province of Pisa:
- The minestra di fagioli bianchi (white bean soup), seasoned with garlic, oil, sage and tomato sauce, the bavettine sul pesce, a spaghetti type, subtle pasta for a subtle fish soup, the zuppa di arselle (clams soup), served in soup plates on which bottom fried pieces of bread can be placed, the pesce ragno bollito (boiled tracine fish), the baccalà e lo stoccafisso in agrodolce (sweet and sour salt cod and dried cod), cut into pieces, covered with flour and fried in very hot oil.
- In the province of Livorno:
- In Livorno, where there is a strong tradition of seafood cuisine, the most important dishes are first the caciucco alla Livornese, (a fish soup served with a delicious sauce and toasted bread), then the triglie alla Livornese, the riso nero con le seppie (black rice with cuttlefish) and the pappa col pomodoro (tomato based dish), one of the most appetising Tuscan dish. Its recipe varies in the different areas of the Region. In one version, broth is added to it to make it more liquid and it is left to cook for a very long time, this way the pappa gets a creamy consistency. In another version, many basil leaves are added to the broth and black bread. In Livorno, they use the same species for the pappa as they use for fish.
- In the province of Grosseto:
- The fettuccine del pescatore is a typical dish of the Tuscan Maremma that recalls the ancient noble traditions. Its ingredients, on top of the fettuccine (pasta), are shrimps, oysters, rucola (rocket salad), salt, pepper, garlic and extra virgin olive oil; the zuppa di funghi (mushroom soup) is a strong dish and an important element in the art of the table. It is prepared with mushrooms and onions that are cut into slices and then fried with lard and a bit of oil; It is eaten with slices of pan-fried slices of bread, seasoned with gratted parmigiano cheese and minced parsley; the scottiglia di cinghiale (wild boar), is one of the most common dishes in Maremma. It is prepared with wild boar meat;
- In the province of Florence:
- The bistecca alla Fiorentina (Florence beefsteak), is a large chop with its bone, about 3-centimetre thick, cut from the thick flank of the calf. It is chargrilled. It is very good if well roasted on the surface but rare inside. It is typically served with a green salad or cannelloni beans in oil; the trippa alla Fiorentina (Florence Tripe), tripe powdered with parmigiano cheese and seasoned with a tomato sauce; the pappardelle alla lepre (pasta with hare) are a typically Tuscan dish. This large pasta is covered with a hare meat sauce. The hare is often cooked in its own blood or with many spices; the fritti misti di carciofi (artichoke fried mix), the pappa col pomodoro (tomato based dish), the ribollita, a leftover of the zuppa di fagioli (bean soup), reheated in the oven, adding some spices; the panzanella, ideal in the hot season, it is a cold soup made from dried bread and tomato, celery, basil and onion, seasoned with oil, salt and pepper; the ceci alla Fiorentina (Florence chickpea); the fagioli all'uccelletto (beans), a classic combination of cannelloni beans, with tomato sauce and sausages.
- In the province of Siena:
- The most typical dishes are: the zuppa di lenticchie col fagiano (lentil soup with pheasant), i crostini di cacciagione (toasts with venison), the zuppa di fagioli alla senese (bean soup from Siena), the ribollita (leftover bean soup), the pasta con i ceci (pasta with chickpeas), a pasta with a sauce made of mashed chickpeas and whole chickpeas, the lepre e cinghiale in agrodolce (sweet and sour hare and wild boar), the fagioli all'uccelletto (beans), the pollo con le olive (chicken with olives), accompanied with minced onion and garlic, cooked in the oven and soaked in red wine, the tortino di carciofi (artichokes stew), a stew adapted even to small children.
- In the province of Pistoia:
- The cuisine from Pistoia tends to use everything “available” in the pantry. The most famous dishes are: the fettunta, the arista sott'olio (chine of pork under oil), the crostini di milza (toasts with liver sauce), the crostini neri (black toasts with di chicken gilet); the zuppa di pane alla pistoiese (bread soup from Pistoia), the farinata con le leghe, the maccheroni all'anatra (maccheroni with duck); the zimino di lampredotto, the trippa (tripe), the rigaglia, the lesso rifatto and the fegatelli di maiale (pork liver sauces); the fagioli di sorana al fiasco (beans), the fagiolini serpenti in umido (beans), the funghi trifolati (truffled mushrooms).
- In the province of Prato:
- On top of the cuisine from Florence, the following dishes are very famous: the minestra di pane alla rustica (the rustic vegetable soup with bread), the stuffed celeries alla pratese (from Prato), the polpette all'uva passa (meatballs with raisins); the anise cantucci (biscuits), and the famous biscuits of Prato.
- In the province of Arezzo:
- The pappardelle all'aretina (pasta recipe from Arezzo), the cabbage soup, the pappa al pomodoro (tomato based dish); the scottiglia, the fagioli al fiasco (recipe with beans), the stuffed artichokes all'aretina (from Arezzo), the pheasant with truffle, the spit roasted lamb, the duck all'aretina (from Arezzo), the eel with peas, the cibreo di rigaglie and various dishes with fegatello di maiale (pork liver sauce).