The name of the ancient Italian festival of Carnevale means “farewell to meat.” That’s because the celebration gives Italians the opportunity to cave in to their carnivorous cravings before Lent—when the population traditionally abstains from eating meat until Easter—begins.
As you might expect, Italians say addio to carne and other rich foods with lavish meals overflowing with meats and treats. Whatever region you visit, Carnevale feasts are teeming with succulent pork dishes, hearty fried foods and abundant confections.
If you’d like to add some gusto to your own Carnevale menu this season, here are some of the most beloved dishes from across the Italian peninsula. Buon appetito !
Piatti Salati (Savoury Dishes)
- Lasagna di Carnevale:
This classic Napoletano dish epitomizes Carnevale’s spirit of abundance. A lush, slow-cooked sugo (sauce) with meatballs and salsiccia cervellatina (pork sausage) is folded into layers of rich egg pasta and combined with hard-boiled eggs, ricotta, Parmigiano Reggiano PDO and fior di latte.
- Tagliatelle al ragu di salsiccia:
A simpler, but equally refined pasta typical of the Emilia-Romagna region. The meat of the sausage is removed from its casing, sautéed in white wine, and simmered in tomato sauce, then combined with the simple, porous ribbons of Tagliatelle pasta, handmade in Italy.
- Panzerotti baresi:
A favourite dish from Puglia, panzerotti is a kind of folded and fried pizza similar to calzoni. Savoury tomato and mozzarella are the traditional base ingredients, but during Carnevale time, sweeter versions stuffed with authentic Italian ingredients like ricotta cheese or hazelnut cream, and then dusted with icing sugar, can further elevate your festivities.
- Porchetta al forno:
Typical of central regions like Tuscany, Umbria and Le Marche, porchetta is a boneless pork roast that is served crisp and salty on the outside, succulent and aromatic on the inside, making it the perfect Carnevale dish!
Originating from Rome, Italy’s most beloved Carnevale confection is a light, crispy pastry with an icing sugar dusting and just a hint of liqueur, but its characteristic texture comes from using authentic Italian doppio zero flour. Today they are found all over the Italian peninsula and go by many names like bugie, galani, cenci and frappe. It’s impossible to eat just one!
- Frittelle di mele:
These delicate, ring-shaped apple fritters, flavoured with lemon and rum, are ubiquitous in the pasticcerie of historic Venice this time of year. Again, authentic Italian doppio zero flour is the ingredient that gives them their crispy texture.
A perfect medley of flavours, this moist yet subtle torta is similar to cheesecake in texture. Try a combination of genuine Italian ricotta and doppio zero semolina flour, infused with hints of lemon and vanilla.