Italian Artisan Food is high quality food

If you are looking for the tastiest highest quality food ever then you need to look for artisan food.

Artisan food should not have additives or preservatives as these are generally a sign of poor quality, of shortcuts, of scale at the expense of taste. This is how many big commercial industries work: they add flavour enhancers and additives to their foods to make up for the lack of quality in their products as in most cases their only goal is to make money.

I often visit farmers and small producers when I am over in Italy. I love to see how they produce their food, I genuinely love chatting to them, understanding their world, the passion for what they do and their difficulties as well. Of course I childishly know that at the end of our conversation they will reward me with a bite to eat and I will be able to sink my teeth into their fantastic produce. And that, believe me, draws me to them like a magnet.

Bean harvest

Bean harvest

This time food came to me…instead!

Meet Malcolm and Claudio who set up Laganum. They buy directly from Italian farmers, importing the food to the UK and with nothing in between manage to sell at reasonable prices.

Italian artisan food

Artisan food is different from industrial food for many aspects, in fact you cannot compare the two things at all. Artisan food is produced by non-industrialized methods often handed down through generations.

Bottling red aubergines

Bottling red aubergines

Here you can see sliced tomatoes drying in the sun to produce what we know as “sundried tomatoes”. Allowing tomatoes to dry in sunlight brings out their amazing flavour beautifully.

sundried tomatoes

I was sent black chickpeas which I have never seen before. They grow in the mountainous area of Basilicata. They are smaller and harder than the white chick peas but with an amazing nutty flavour. As they are so rich in iron and proteins the local population, when there was not much available,  used to give their cooking water to pregnant women to drink.

black chickpeas

Our food system seems to have largely forgotten the magic of food, often referring to it merely as a product. Frankly I find this quite sad.

The quality of artisan food is obvious at every step: from the selection of ingredients, the care of process, and finally with the joy in presenting it to others.

pasta strascinati

Organic Strascinati pasta from Lucca

I tasted an interesting cheese, new to me: “Cacioricotta” made with milk from goats near the Tripaldi dairy’s base in the hills of Basilicata. This is  a hard cheese with a salty taste ideal to grate on your pasta dish particularly with pasta al pomodoro (in tomato sauce).  I enjoyed this with taralli,  a Southern Italian snack with a similar texture to breadsticks.

cheese and taralli

I tried the passata (tomato sauce) made with cherry tomatoes from Pachino which are cultivated in the deepest South-Western end of Sicily where seasonal temperatures are constantly mild all year around and exposure to the sun protracted. Rich in mineral salts, lycopodium and carotene it helps prevent free radicals and fight degenerative diseases. The sweetness of this tomato is incredible! Only in Southern Italy will you get such delicious tomatoes!

passata with pomodoro ciliegino di pachino

You can see why I love artisan food and you don’t need to have lots of it as it is so satisfying and delicious.

Mario Di Benedetto

Mario Di Benedetto owns a mill in Puglia and produces organic flour

And this is my simple but tasty recipe with black chickpeas and pasta (serves 4).

chickpeas and pasta

Soak 200 g (1 cup) of black chickpeas in cold water for 24 hours.

Drain them, put them in a pot, cover them with salty cold water and cook for at least 1 hour or until soft. Cook 200 g (1 and 1/2 cups) of short cut pasta in salty water. Drain it and add it to the drained chickpeas and some of their cooking liquid.

Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a pan, along with a rosemary stick, a  garlic clove and a handful of cherry tomatoes. Stir fry for a couple of minutes then pour it onto the pasta and chickpeas stirring for a minute. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil.

I enjoyed this. The nutty taste of the chickpeas combined with the pasta goes beautifully together making it a healthy and very nutritious meal indeed!

Mario at the mill

Disclosure: I was sent the food for review, I was not paid for it. All opinions and enthusiasm are my own!

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10 Responses to Italian Artisan Food is high quality food

  1. Kate - Gluten Free Alchemist

    What an interesting post Alida. I also love the amazing food you get from local and artisan producers. The variety and flavours are endless. It seems that the Italians are experts……….. I love the photo of the drying tomatoes. So cool!

  2. Dottie Sauchelli Balin

    Dear Alida,
    Another fabulous (out of the kitchen) post. I agree with you Alida, there is nothing like an Artisan food. No additives and preservatives. Just fresh ingredients and the passion that goes into each of these foods. Sundried tomatoes are a favorite of mine and now I can understand how it is done. I also have never seen or eaten Black Chickpeas! They look like pebbles, but your dish looks amazing. I may have to try them someday, if I can find them in the grocery. I make taralli, many times through the year. They are so good especially with a glass of wine, coffee, or tea. I also enjoy the passata (tomato sauce). The color is so bright and must be an amazing flavor. Thank you for sharing your outside journey with us. Have a blessed Sunday. I enjoyed this post very much and always learn so much too!
    Dottie 🙂

    • Alida

      Thank you Dottie!

  3. Angie@Angie's Recipes

    wow those real sundried tomatoes are really cool and I love those black chickpeas!

  4. gloria

    Beautiful post cara!
    Un abbraccio!!!

  5. la cucina di Molly

    Non posso che condividere questo post, adoro questi prodotti genuini che poi sono anche quelli della mia Puglia! I ceci neri sono i legumi che preferisco, si fanno ottime zuppe! Ottimo il tuo piatto di ceci neri e pasta, immagino che bontà! Un abbraccio e buona domenica delle Palme!

  6. All That I'm Eating

    It’s so nice to be able to talk to the people who make our food isn’t it. Those black chickpeas sound really interesting.

  7. Malcolm

    Glad everyone likes the black chickpeas – legend has it that they nearly died out after the war but are now making a comeback. They come from a small honey producer in Tolve, Basilicata, who also has a side activity cultivating chickpeas.

    The sun dried tomatoes come from Masseria Mirogallo, near Matera. They grow, harvest and bottle their own vegetables – not easy to find these days as most bottlers buy their vegetables in.

  8. Elisabetta

    Loved this post, I agree with you 100%. It’s funny I also took a photo of trays of tomatoes “sunbathing” outside a house in the charming town of Bosa in Sardegna, I couldn’t help it! I’m definitely going to make your recipe for pasta with chickpeas even if they are the white ones!

    • Alida

      Grazie Elisabetta!

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