It’s officially autumn in Salt Lake City, with lovely sunny days and the vibrant colors of leaves. With autumn, as temperatures begin to cool, we begin to crave comfort foods.
From Merriam-Webster, comfort food is “food that is satisfying because it is prepared in a simple or traditional way and reminds you of home, family, or friends.” Comfort food also provides emotional support and nourishment. Most comfort foods in cuisines around the world have humble roots and are illustrative of the fundamental flavors of a cuisine.
Here at Cucina Toscana, we are dedicated to preparing Italian foods in a traditional way, to offer the best flavor, satisfaction, and comfort. Below are our three top picks of Italian comfort foods from our menu.
“Food is satisfying because it is prepared in a simple or traditional way and reminds your of home, family or friends.”Merriam-Webster
Eggplant Parmigiana (Melanzane alla Parmigiano)
Eggplant Parmigiana is a classic dish of southern Italy, commonly associated with Naples. However, it has also been claimed by northern Italy, with origins in the Parma region. Several food historians have claimed that Eggplant Parmigiano comes from the Sicilian palmigiana – as Sicilians pronounce the “l” as an “r” in their dialect. The name describes the dish’s resemblance to window shutters or palm-thatched roofs. Regardless of its origins, eggplant Parmigiana is a classic Italian comfort food.
This is a simple dish, with very few ingredients. To prepare the dish, eggplant is dipped in batter and fried (or simply fried without batter). These thinly-sliced eggplant pieces are then layered with tomato sauce, mozzarella, and basil. In some preparations, you may find parmesan cheese and hard-boiled egg slices.
At Cucina Toscana, 0ur eggplant Parmigiana is prepared simply, with tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, and basil.
Tritico Pasta del Giornio (Gnocchi, Ravioli, and Capellini)
A trio of pastas – what could be more comforting? Now that new studies have shown that pasta is good for you and a crucial part of a healthy Mediterranean diet, you may have a reasonable portion of gnocchi, ravioli, and capellini as a first course.
Gnocchi is another classic Italian comfort food, with its origins found in Roman times. Gnocchi, a sort-of potato dumpling, is historically served on Thursdays, though there is no record of why. Gnocchi varies by region in Italy. Here at Cucina Toscana, we serve our gnocchi with in a spicy tomato sauce.
Ravioli is a favorite, and it is also considered a pasta dumpling. With ravioli, a filling is sealed between two layers of pasta. While ravioli is usually square in shape, circular or semi-circular (mezzelune – half moon) shapes are also not uncommon. Ravioli’s history may be traced back to the 14th century, where it was served stuffed with green herbs, beaten egg, and cheese, and then seasoned with sweet and strong spices. Across Europe, various stuffed dumplings share an ancestry with ravioli, perhaps due in part to the Roman empire. At Cucina Toscana, our ravioli is stuffed with spinach and ricotta and served with a light butter, age, and tomato sauce.
Capellini, the third in our trio, is the Italian word for “little hairs.” It is one of the thinnest varieties of long, rod-shaped pastas. It is served with white truffle oil and cream sauce in Cucina Toscana’s preparation.
Carbonara is perhaps the most comforting of Italian comfort foods, with its rich, creamy, cheesy sauce. Culinary influences on carbonara’s preparation include spaghetti alla gricia (bacon, cheese, and pepper) or the southern Italian dish cacio e uova (melted lard, mixed egg, and cheese).
Based on the name, food historians believe carbonara may be traced to carbonaro (charcoal burner) and was a dish prepared for Italian coal miners. This etymology somehow made its way to the US, where it is known as “coal miner’s spaghetti.”
Carbonara finds its roots in 20th century Rome, and it is prepared with eggs, cheese, bacon, and black pepper. Spaghetti is the most common pasta served with carbonara – though it may be served with linguini, rigatoni, or fettucine. Carbonara is quite a difficult dish to prepare as the egg may curdle, but when prepared correctly, the mixture of egg, cheese, and bacon fat make for a creamy sauce.
Here at Cucina Toscana, we serve our Spaghetti Carbonara with pancetta, egg, and parmesan.
Ready to be comforted with traditional favorites? Make a reservation with us at Cucina Toscana before the cold sets in!