A Grand Tour of Italy

From the eighteenth to the twentieth century, aristocrats from all over Europe flocked to Italy for what was called a "Grand Tour": an educational rite of passage, a time to explore the country's art, academics, and culture. Today, we're taking you on a culinary Grand Tour. Here are 8 recipes from the regions of Italy -- from Sicily to Lombardia, Tuscany to Veneto. Buon appetito!

• Can't get enough of Italy? Check out our Tuscan Fantasy Meals.
• See our list of quick weeknight pastas.
• Got a question in the kitchen? The Food52 Hotline is here to help!

Pasta e Fagioli by QueenOfGreen

https://media.zenfs.com/en-US/blogs/partner/Pasta_e_Fagioli.jpeg

I swear, when I came home from a study abroad in Rome, I ate this so much my friends began to call it Pasta Fa-Julie. (Yes, that's my name! Close enough anyway. The secret's out!) I modified this one from Gourmet magazine. -- QueenOfGreen

Serves 2
2 slices bacon, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 small stalk celery
1 can (14 oz) chicken broth, or homemade
1 can (16 oz) cannelini beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (16 oz) whole tomatoes, drained and chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 cup dittalini, or any other small pasta shape
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
grated Parmesan

In a heavy saucepan cook bacon over moderate heat, stirring until crisp. Add onion and garlic, stirring until onion is soft and transparent. Add celery. Add broth and simmer, covered, for 5 minutes.

In a bowl mash 1/3 of the beans, then stir them into the onion mixture along with the remaining whole beans, tomatoes, and oregano. Simmer the soup, covered for 15 minutes, or until pasta is al dente. Then remove from heat and let stand, still covered, for 5 minutes.

Stir in parsley and top with (lots of!) Parmesan. Feast.

Save and print this recipe on FOOD52.

Grandma DiLaura's Italian Ricotta Gnocchi

Grandma DiLaura's Italian Ricotta Gnocchi

We're newly convinced, thanks to this recipe, that homemade gnocchi can be a weeknight dinner. And ricotta gnocchi like cdilaura's (a.k.a. our friend Christina) are especially easy to pull together, and won't weigh you down like their potato-based counterparts. We loved these nearly bare -- just sauteed in some brown butter -- so we could really taste the ricotta and speckles of nutmeg. To see a video of Christina making her gnocchi with us, go here. - Amanda & Merrill

Get the recipe.

Risotto Rosso

Risotto Rosso

Savory, earthy and acidic all at once, Abra Bennett's risotto is a carefully conceived juxtaposition of flavors and textures. It's also a study in umami: you start with a base of cubed pancetta and mushrooms, add shallots and carnaroli rice -- which you then render creamy with both red wine and beef broth -- and finish the risotto with a shower of parmesan and some butter. It's rich without being overpowering, and we love how the carnaroli rice keeps its structure without being crunchy; the resulting dish is creamy, not gluey. - Amanda & Merrill

Get the recipe.

Spinaci alla Genovese

Spinaci alla Genovese

Spinach cooked with raisins and pine nuts is a classic Roman side dish. In Genoa, they add anchovies. Either way, it is a lovely way to dress up spinach. Serve with beef, veal, lamb, or chicken. - Waverly

Get the recipe.

Polpette di Vitello, Tonnato Style

Polpette di Vitello, Tonnato Style

These are not your nonna's meatballs, OK? I'm way more than bored with those. This recipe is based on the classic cold appetizer, vitello tonnato. I've simply pilfered and deconstructed and then reconstructed the whole idea. For this dish the meatballs are first poached (not fried), and the ingredients, while not many, are of the best quality. - pierino

Get the recipe.

Sunday Pork Ragu

Sunday Pork Ragu

We're suckers for an old school ragu that calls for actual bones, and the fact that this is an all-pork sauce really piqued our interest. The finished sauce is vibrant red, studded with chunks of sausage and flecked with lots of fresh parsley, an herb that is too often employed as a garnish and not for its clean, grassy flavor. - Amanda & Merrill

Get the recipe.

Sicilian-Style Swordfish

Sicilian-Style Swordfish

CucinettaNYC knows how to produce a powerful sauce with a mere handful of ingredients. She sautes onion and garlic, then whips off the heat and throws in some capers, olives and sundried tomatoes with a little wine, and the sauce is done. Then all you have to do is cook the swordfish, which she has you do in the same pan. A gold star for efficiency! - Amanda & Merrill

Get the recipe.

Luciana's Porchetta by Aliwaks

Luciana's Porchetta

We think porchetta should become a staple in everyone's kitchen. It's inexpensive, requires little but marinating and oven time and produces a roast that's robustly flavored and goes with most anything. By the time the roast emerges from the oven, your entire neighborhood smells like an Italian trattoria. And if you can't find pork skin, just substitute 9 thin slices of pancetta and lay them over the top of the rolled shoulder (which protects the roast from drying out and makes for delicious crisp pancetta chips to serve with the porchetta.) - Amanda & Merrill

Get the recipe.