Ingredients from the Veneto
Here's a roundup of produce and pantry staples to look for in your grocery store.
Radicchio: The Veneto produces many varieties of the vegetable. Chioggia, the round radicchio, is the best known in the United States. The long, romaine-shaped Treviso radicchio is distinguished by its curled-in tops, and the variegated radicchio of Castelfranco is used raw in salads.
Olive oil: The Veneto is one of the northernmost olive tree growing regions in Europe and produces a delicate, versatile olive oil that is suitable for a variety of dishes. Extravirgin olive oil is commonly used in all manner of cooking in Italy, from salad dressings to baked goods to sautéing.
Cranberry beans: The borlotti (cranberry beans) of Lamon are rich and creamy, and used in the classic pasta e fagioli, as well as on their own in side dishes. From late summer to December they are available fresh, but canned and dried beans are available year-round.
Asiago: Named for the town at the foot of the Dolomites, this cheese is available both young, when it is tender and almost creamy, and as a firm aged cheese with a pronounced flavor.
Dried porcini mushrooms: These mushrooms offer comforting earthy flavor and meaty textures.
Taleggio: From Treviso, the eastern part of Veneto, this creamy, rich Brie-like cheese is often used in pastas and risottos.
Pumpkin: A pumpkin known by the name zucca barucca is used in risottos and as a filling for ravioli. Its flavor is quite different from that of American pumpkin, so substitute butternut squash, which more closely resembles this variety.
Celery root: The celery of Verona is not actually the head of celery but celery root, which is used raw in salads, cooked in soups, and as a filling for ravioli.
Peas: In May and June, the sweet fresh peas of Peseggia, north of Venice, are in season, and the locals make risi e bisi (rice and peas) and freeze whatever is left to use in other dishes they prepare throughout the year.
Monte Veronese: This rich, full-flavored cow’s milk cheese is prized as a table cheese and used in pasta and risotto dishes.