The key to Tuscan food is simplicity. Fresh, seasonal produce is prepared to bring out the flavor and lose none of the natural goodness.
The region is blessed with a soil and climate that favors farming and one of the joys of traveling through Tuscany is stopping in any village and finding the market or the little local restaurant. Another reason people flock here to take cooking classes is that many of the most flavorful dishes are so easy to prepare, having only a few ingredients—the key is the quality of the raw food you use.
Some Tuscan staples are:
A traditional Tuscan peasant dish, this is a soup with beans and vegetables and often bread leftover from the day before. The name literally means reboiled, and it is traditionally a soup made from leftovers.
Bistecca alla florentina
Florentine steak. The beef comes from Chianina cattle bred in the Chiani Valley and from Maremmana cattle from Maremma. This is a steak that is served rare.
Not a dish but an ingredient and a little goes a long way; but truffles are rare and expensive and some of the best come from Tuscany so you’ll find truffle oils and truffles in many pasta dishes.
Wild boar (cinghiale) is particularly traditional and you’ll often find it served with pasta particularly the wide flat pappardelle. It is also made into a salami.
Tuscan cooks use beans a lot, often slowly cooked for a low time so they make a kind of creamy paste. A nickname for the locals is mangiafagioli which means bean-eaters. You’ll find white beans in particular served with many dishes.
Crostini di fegato
This is bread served with a pate type spread made from chicken livers and capers and anchovies and onions. Rich, salty, very Tuscan and a typical appetizer in the region.
This cured ham is a real staple of the region and so delicious that just some bread and prosciutto makes a tasty, affordable lunch.
An alternative to potatoes or pasta made from maize flour then boiled, baked in the oven and sometimes fried. Great with porcini mushrooms or grilled vegetables.
Almond biscotti designed for you to dip into your coffee or even a sweet wine or sherry. There are many almond cookies of this type or similar ones made with dried fruits.
Sheep’s milk cheese which is wonderful with honey and walnuts.
And of course all this is even better when matched with the local wines.