A Journey Through the Culinary Traditions of Lombardy: 10 Dishes You Need to Try

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Welcome to Lombardy, the northern Italian region renowned for its stunning landscapes, rich history, and, of course, its delicious food.

From the cosmopolitan city of Milan to the alpine valleys of Valtellina, Lombardy offers a variety of dishes that satisfy any palate and occasion.

In this article, we will explore 10 dishes that represent its traditional food culture: if you’re planning a trip here, you can’t leave without trying them!

Exploring the Traditional Food Culture of Lombardy in 10 Dishes

Lombardy’s cuisine is full of flavors, aromas and textures.

There are many meat dishes, especially those made with veal, beef and pork, but also many freshwater fish dishes, thanks to its lakes and rivers.

Cheeses, such as Grana Padano and Taleggio, rice and pasta are very common, as they can be paired with different ingredients.

Lombardy also has rich and indulgent desserts and a wide range of wines.

So be sure to try these 10 traditional dishes that will tantalize your taste buds when you visit Lombardy.

  1. Risotto alla Milanese: the Classic Lombard Dish

Risotto alla Milanese is one of the most famous and iconic dishes of Lombardy, especially of its capital, Milan. According to legend, the dish was first created sometime in the 16th century, during the construction of Duomo.

It is made with rice, butter, onion, saffron and Parmesan cheese. The saffron gives the risotto a distinctive yellow color and a delicate aroma.

Risotto alla Milanese is often served as a first course or as an accompaniment to meat dishes such as Ossobuco or Cotoletta.

  1. Pizzoccheri della Valtellina: a Hearty Pasta Dish from the Mountains

Pizzoccheri della Valtellina is a hearty pasta dish that originated in the Valtellina valley, a mountainous area in the north of Lombardy.

It is made with buckwheat noodles, potatoes, cabbage and cheese (usually Bitto or Casera, two local varieties), creating a hearty and flavorful dish that is perfect for cold winter days. Cabbage is seasonally replaced by swiss chard or green beans.

Pizzoccheri are a filling and satisfying dish that is perfect for cold winter days.

  1. Tortelli di Zucca: Ravioli Stuffed with Pumpkin

Tortelli di zucca are a specialty of Mantua, a city in the south-east of Lombardy.

This dish is a type of ravioli filled with pumpkin puree, amaretti biscuits, mustard fruits and Parmesan cheese. It is seasoned with butter and sage and sprinkled with more cheese on top.

Tortelli di zucca are a sweet and savory dish that is usually eaten during autumn and winter, when pumpkins are in season.

  1. Italian Casoncelli: Bergamo’s Iconic Stuffed Pasta

Casoncelli are another type of stuffed pasta that are typical of Lombardy, especially of the Bergamo province.

The true  Italian Casoncelli are filled with a mixture of roast veal, ground pork, breadcrumbs, eggs, grated cheese, sultanas, garlic, parsley, and sometimes pieces of pear.

They are boiled in water and then dressed with butter, sage and chopped pancetta.

  1. Polenta: a Versatile Dish Made from Boiled Cornmeal

Polenta is a versatile dish that is made from boiled cornmeal. It can be eaten plain or with various toppings such as cheese, meat sauce, mushrooms or other ingredients.

Polenta can also be baked, fried or grilled to create different textures and flavors.

There are many types of polenta. One is polenta taragna, made with a mix of yellow cornmeal and buckwheat flour, enriched with butter and cheese that are mixed in right before serving.

  1. Cotoletta alla Milanese: a Meat Lover’s Delight

One of the most iconic dishes of Lombardy is Cotoletta alla milanese. It consists of a thin slice of veal that is breaded and fried in butter until golden and crispy.

It is usually served with a lemon wedge and a side dish of potatoes or salad. Some variations include adding cheese or ham between two slices of meat or using chicken instead of veal.

  1. Ossobuco: a Traditional Slow-Cooked Specialty

Another traditional dish of Lombardy is Ossobuco, which means “bone with a hole”. It is one  of Milan’s most cherished signature dishes.

It is made from veal shanks that are braised slowly in a rich sauce of white wine, broth, vegetables and herbs. The bone marrow adds flavor and richness to the dish, while the meat becomes tender and succulent.

Ossobuco is usually served with risotto alla milanese and it is a hearty and comforting dish for cold days.

  1. Missoltini: a Dish made from Freshwater Shad Fish

Missoltini are a specialty of Lake Como, made with dried and salted freshwater shad fish. The fish are caught in spring, gutted and cleaned, then layered with salt and herbs in wooden barrels.

They are left to ferment for a few months, then grilled over a fire and served with polenta.

Missoltini have a strong and distinctive flavor that pairs well with a dry white wine.

  1. Panettone: a Sweet Bread Filled with Dried Fruits

Panettone is a traditional Lombardy dessert that is enjoyed during the Christmas season.

It is a sweet bread that is baked in a tall and round shape. It is filled with raisins, candied orange peel, lemon zest and sometimes chocolate chips or nuts.

It can be served plain or with whipped cream, mascarpone cheese or jam.

  1. Torrone di Cremona: a Crunchy Dessert

Torrone di Cremona is a type of nougat made with sugar, honey, egg whites, candied fruit, nuts, and various flavorings, most commonly lemon zest and vanilla.

It has a crunchy texture and a delicate aroma that makes it perfect for dessert or as a snack.

It is said to have been invented in Cremona in 1441, when it was served at the wedding banquet of Bianca Maria Visconti and Francesco Sforza.

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