Recipes from the Alessandria Province

The province of Alessandria is home to delicious dishes that utilize the abundance of natural products available in the area. As with the gastronomy throughout Piedmont, the local cuisine is simple and authentic.

Regional dishes are available everywhere, especially bagna cauda, a dressing for vegetables made with oil, onion and anchovies. Born as a mid-morning snack and communal meal for farmhands working in the vineyards of Alessandria, the dish has become a year-round favorite.

Few soups are as warming in the cold of winter as zuppa di cipolla al vino rosso, an Alessandria classic. While the soup takes about 45 minutes to be ready, the active time in the kitchen is much less, leaving you free to do other things around the house.

Porcini mushrooms stand out among the local specialties, along with the precious truffles from Bormida Valley. Cured meats are a popular delicacy, especially the filetto baciato in Aqui Terme and boiled beef salami from Mandrogne. The tasty rabaton is made with ricotta, vegetables, eggs and cheese.

Some of the delectable desserts of Alessandria include the renowned chocolate of Novi Ligure and krumiri, typical cookies from Casale Monferrato. When creator Domenico Rossi invented them in 1878, he shaped them as a half-moon to pay homage to King Vittorio Emanuelle II’s moustache.

Enjoy a taste of Piedmont’s Alessandria Province with the delicious recipes below.

BAGNA CAUDA

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Ingredients Preparation
  • 8 celery stalks, cut into 4-in-long sticks
  • 3 yellow peppers, cut into 4-in-long sticks
  • 1 celery root, trimmed, cut into 4-in-long sticks
  • 1 fennel bulb, trimmed, quartered and cut into wedges
  • 1 and ½ sticks unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 12 anchovy filets packed in olive oil, drained and chopped
Arrange the vegetables attractively on a platter.

Heat the butter, olive oil, and garlic in a 6-in skillet over medium-low heat until the butter melts, being careful not to let the garlic take on any color, about 5 min. Stir in the anchovies and cook over medium-low heat, stirring, until the anchovies dissolve and the mixture smells less pungent, about 15 min; the sauce should emulsify. It is important that the sauce cook very slowly, not to burn the garlic or the anchovies.

Pour the sauce into a bowl and serve as a dip for the vegetables.

Rabaton

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Ingredients Preparation
  • 1-lb pkg frozen chopped spinach, thawed, gently squeezed of moisture
  • 1-1/3 cups breadcrumbs
  • 1 cup plus 2 tbsp. fresh ricotta cheese
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano cheese
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 2 tbsp. fresh sage, chopped
  • Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
In a medium-size bowl, mix the spinach and breadcrumbs together. Add the ricotta and Parmigiano cheeses, egg, garlic and salt. Mixture should be firm. Form into sausages approximately ½ by 2 in.Preheat oven to 350-degrees. Bring stock to a rapid boil in large saucepan. Reduce to a simmer.

Roll the sausages in flour, shaking off excess. Carefully add dumplings to stock in 3 batches and cook until they float to the top, about 2 min.

Transfer to a large baking dish using a slotted spoon. Pour melted butter over dumplings and sprinkle with sage. Bake in a 350-degree oven until heated through, about 10 min. Transfer to individual plates, sprinkle with grated cheese and serve immediately.

Zuppa di Cipolla al Vino Rosso (Wine-Laced Onion Soup)

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Ingredients Preparation
  • 1 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 8 medium purple onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 16 thin slices baguette
  • 1 cup freshly grated Fontina

 

Melt the butter in a heavy, wide pot over medium heat. Add the onions and cook for 25 min, or until they are very soft and caramelized; stir every few minutes to ensure they cook evenly. Season with the salt and pepper, deglaze with the wine, and cook 5 min, scraping the bottom of the pan to dislodge any juices and incorporate them into the onions.
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Pour in the broth and bring to a boil, uncovered.Cook for 30 min, uncovered, stirring once in a while.Meanwhile, preheat the broiler. Place 4 slices of baguette in each of 4 oven-proof soup bowls. Scatter the Fontina over the bread. Ladle the soup over the bread and cook the soup in the preheated broiler for 5 min, or until the cheese is bubbly. Serve hot.

Krumiri

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Ingredients Preparation
  • 3 eggs at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 7.4 oz. (1 cup minus 1 tbsp.) butter room temperature
  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ cups corn flour, extra fine
  • ½ vanilla pod, seeds scraped
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-in star pastry tube
Line three cookie sheets with parchment paper. Fit a pastry bag with a 1/2 in star pastry tube. Sift together the corn flour and flour and set aside.

Scrape the seeds of half a vanilla pod. In an electric mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar for 4 or 5 min. Add the vanilla seeds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, beating 1 min between each addition. Add the flour mixture, in three parts, mixing as little as possible. Fill the pastry bag with mixture and make half-moons about 3-inches long. Refrigerate 30 min before baking so the biscuits keep their shape, especially the ridges.

Pre-heat the oven to 350º F. Bake Krumiri for about 12 to 15 min or until golden brown. Remove from cookie sheets and cool on racks.



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