Umbria Most of the dishes of Umbria are prepared with the simple country cooking techniques of boiling and roasting with the addition of local olive oil and herbs for flavor. Since the region has no access to the sea, the ancient Umbri and Etruscans, who inhabited territories on opposite sides of the Tiber River, have always been depending on the generosity of the land.
There are few secrets to Umbrian cooking; most important is home-grown products. Vegetable dishes are more popular in the spring and summer while they are in season, while the fall and winter introduces meats from the hunting season and black truffles from Norcia. It is also an ancestral home of pork butchers known everywhere as norcini, which produces prosciutto that rates DOP, as well as salame and such specialties as mazzafegati, piquant liver sausages with orange rinds, pine nuts and raisins. Porchetta, the suckling pork, is delicious, like the Perugia's Chianina beef. Wild boar is prized for sausage making.

Freshwater fish from Lake Trasimeno are also found in the cuisine including lasca, trout, freshwater perch, grayling, eel, barbel, whitefish, and tench.

Umbria produces a major share of dried pasta for the national market, i.e. homemade egg pasta tagliatelle, ciriole and stringozzi, which resemble rustic spaghetti.

One of the most celebrated of Umbria's dairy by-products is cheese. The most popular cheese is Pecorino Toscano DOP which is made from sheep's milk and is found in many styles; young or aged, sweet or spicy, and mild or strong. Pecorino can easily be distinguished from other cheeses due to its generally strong flavour and pungent aroma. Ravigiolo which is made from pasteurised full-cream milk and salted by being steeped in brine for a short time. This is a soft, mild and rindless cheese. Caciotta a cheese made from cow and sheep's milk that is white in colour and with a consistency that is soft but firm and a buttery yet pleasantly sharp taste.

In the autumn, woods abound with porcini mushrooms and chestnuts. Norcia, a town on the edge of the Apennines, is Italy's prime source of black truffles 'tartufi neri', served fresh with pasta, meat and egg dishes, or even pounded into paste with anchovies and garlic. The "black diamonds" are preserved in various ways, including in cheese known as pecorino tartufato. Even more prized are white truffles, always eaten fresh.

Lentils, like the lenticchie di Castelluccio DOP, are prized, like the spelt, farro, from the regions of Spoleto and Monteleone. The diet relies on salads and cooked vegetables, notably cardoons called gobbi.

Olives grown in the Nera valley near Spoleto and around Lake Trasimeno produce some of Italy's finest extra virgin oil, protected under the DOP Umbria.

Huge loaves of unsalted pane casereccio are baked in wood ovens, as are torte, spongy flour and egg breads flavored with pecorino or pork crackling. Bakers also make sweet buns called pan nociato with walnuts, grapes, cloves and pecorino and pan pepato with almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, raisins and candied fruit.
  • Lenticchie di Castelluccio con salsicce - lentil stew with sausages
  • Minestra di farro - spelt soup
  • Fegatelli - spit-roasted liver
Specialties of the Norcineria:
  • Barbozzo - cured, matured pig's cheek
  • Mazzafegati - sweet or hot pig's liver sausage, the sweet version containing raisins, orange peel and sugar
  • Budellacci - smoked, spiced pig intestines eaten raw, spit-roasted, or broiled
  • Capocollo - Sausage highly seasoned with garlic and pepper
  • Coppa - sausage made from the pig's head
  • Prosciutto di Norcia - a pressed, cured ham made from the legs of pigs fed on a strict diet of acorns
  • 300 gr lentils - soak in fresh water 8 hrs
  • 1 onion sliced
  • Olive oil
  • 2 tablespoon white wine
  • 4 short salsicce
  • 300 gr tomato sause
  • Salt, pepper, peperoncino
Pan fry a bit of thinly sliced onion in olive oil, add white wine and a bit of black pepper. Add lentils, cover with water, add salt and let it simmer for 20 minutes on medium heat. In the meanwhile to get rid of some sausage grease, cook sausages for a few minutes in a pan or grill making holes in the casing so that the fat drains. At this point slice the sausages in 1 cm thick rounds, add them to the lentils and add tomatoes or tomato sauce, and a pinch of peperoncino. Let the mixture cook for 30 minutes or until the lentils are tender.

FEGATELLI - spit-roasted liver
  • 500 gr pork liver in small cubes
  • Salt, pepper, flour
  • Bay leaves
Cut the pork liver in pieces that are not too large, add salt, pepper,a little flour, and roll it a piece at a time in the "net" - the pig's fat creates a thin layer. Stick the pieces of liver on a spit, alternating them with bay leaves. Cook in the fireplace or barbecue. Serve with polenta.

  • 500 gr flour
  • 1,5 dl milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 dl sugar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • Raisins, nuts, etc.
Make a soft dough. Add raisins, nuts, candites, piece of choclate etc. Put the dough in the circle mould. Bake in the oven for 1 hour without opening at 175 degrees.