Ligurian cuisine is rich and mixes different traditions of sea, of the hinterland and of exotic flavours brought here over the centuries. A historically “poor” cuisine is however one of the richest of the Mediterranean.
Oil, focaccia and pesto
Ligurian olive oil has always been the most traded product because olive trees dominate the landscape of Liguria.
The olive tree has been grown by the Benedictine monks on the hillsides of Liguria since the 12th century. It originally comes from Asia Minor, but today is the hallmark of agriculture in Liguria. In ancient times, olives were not only used to produce olive oil, but also for the preparation of ointments, balms and perfumes. The olive oil started its fortune as early as 1000 AD in Taggia, but only in 1997 the Ligurian olive oil got from the European Union the DOC logo (Controlled Origin Denomination).
- Pesto genovese – herb sauce of basil, garlic, pine nuts, pecorino cheese and olive oil
The extra virgin olive oil is a fundamental element of Ligurian cuisine and it is also used to prepare Focaccia and Focaccia of Recco. They differ from each other, even if both are made from flour, water, salt and (much) oil: Focaccia of Recco adds, in fact, a filling of crescenza (a creamy fresh cheese).
- Focaccia di Recco – RECCO traditional Ligurian yeast cakes
Then there is pesto sauce that goes back to two hundred years ago and today it is the symbol of the Ligurian cuisine, prepared with basil, olive oil, salt, parmesan, pecorino cheese, garlic and pine nuts. DOP (of protected origin) Genoese basil (Ocimum basilicum) is a particular type of basil and is grown in greenhouses in the hills of Prà and Voltri. To be considered “good” it must be grown near the sea, because otherwise it takes the flavour of mint. Pesto is used to dress trofie, a type of pasta originally made with a mixture of wheat and cheaper chestnut flour.
However, the best opportunity to taste this delicacy is when you taste it directly in Liguria. Come and let us spoil you!
In Liguria we find the second smallest wine region of Italy. Ligurian wine is a must-see speciality, not only outside Italy, but even outside Liguria. It is very hard to find these wines outside the region because the geographical conditions of the Ligurian coast make it difficult to cultivate and therefore the production of these types of wine is limited and sold only locally. The quantity for its export is hardly sufficient and that is a shame, because the quality is excellent. After all, there are in Liguria, from Ventimiglia on the French border to La Spezia west of Tuscany, not less than 600 wineries.
Small dictionary Ligurian specialties
- Alici marinate – marinated in olive oil and lemon anchovy fillets
- Baccalà (Stoccafisso) – codfish stew with vegetables
- Branzino in tegame – Sea bass in white wine sauce
- Canestrelli – Shortcrust pastry cookies
- Cappon Magro – Boiled seafood and fish with vegetables, hardtack bisquits (gallette) and green sauce
- Castagnaccio – cake made with chestnut flour with raisins and pine nuts or almonds and rosemary
- Coniglio alla ligure – braised rabbit
- Farinata – pancake made with chickpea flour
- Fiori di zucchini ripieni – stuffed zucchini flowers
- Focaccia – typically Ligurian flat bread product
- Fritelle di verdura – in batter fried vegetables
- Fritto misto – small fried fish
- Lasagna al pesto – Pesto Lasagna
- Latte dolce fritto – fried sweet cream
- Mesciua – thick soup with corn, beans and chickpeas
- Moscardini e patate – small octopuses in herbal wine-tomato sauce with boiled potatoes
- Musciame – air-dried tuna fillets, thinly sliced
- Pansoti con salsa di noci – fresh pasta filled with vegetables, ricotta and herbs, served with walnut sauce
- Pesto genovese – herb sauce of basil, garlic, pine nuts, parmesan and pecorino cheese and olive oil
- Torta di verdure – vegetable pie, usually with spinach, chards, artichokes and potatoes
- Trenette con pesto – narrow ribbon pasta with pesto
- Zimin – chickpea soup with herbs
- Zuppa di cozze – soup with mussels