Viterbo was the center of the Etruscan culture. Disregarded by the Roman historians as a society obsessed with food and wine, the Etruscans were particularly advanced in culinary knowledge. Where the cultivation of olives was originally a small, family centric activity, the Etruscans were the first to cultivate it on an industrial scale and export it across the Mediterranean and surrounding countries. They were also among the first people to make and use pasta in many of their dishes.
The Etruscan people began producing wine during the 7th century BC. It was called ‘Sassicaia’ and was so potent that it had to be added to large quantities of water before it could be served. For centuries it was the main beverage enjoyed at festivities of any kind. With a sense of social equality, Etruscan women were permitted to drink wine and engage in celebrations, something that the Romans found extremely distasteful. They considered women to be of a lower status, except when it came to the matriarch of a family, who were permitted to drink wine and engage in celebrations. Although they would not admit it, the Romans learned a lot from both Etruscan social and culinary traditions.
Lombrichelli in Tomato Sauce
Lombrichelli is an ancient pasta from Viterbo, made by kneading flour with salt and water to make a hard dough that is then worked one piece at a time to make thick, coarse spaghetti. The recipe for the sauce is very basic. Feel free to add fresh basil and parsley if desired.
1 lb all-purpose flour
2 cloves garlic, chopped
extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 lb canned tomatoes
Pecorino cheese, chilly grated
Prepare a dough with water, salt and flour by making a well in the center of the flour. Add the water and the egg, plus 1 teaspoon of coarse salt. The consistency should be about the same as modeling clay. Knead until the ingredients have become well-combined. On the pastry-board, make ropes of pasta by rolling the dough until the diameter is a little less than 1/4 inch (.2 inch diameter is ideal). Cut into lengths 12 inches long. Allow the pasta to dry for 4 to 6 hours before cooking. Cook in a pot of abundantly salted water.
Meanwhile, prepare a sauce by sautéing the garlic in a few turns of olive oil and then adding the peeled tomatoes, drained of their juice, with a pinch of red pepper flakes and leave to gain flavor. Simmer for 30 minutes.
When the pasta is cooked, drain and dress with the sauce. Sprinkle with a generous helping of grated Pecorino cheese and serve.
Scorfano con Sugo di Pomodoro e Basilico
Rockfish with tomato and basil sauce takes just 15 minutes to prepare while using only a handful of ingredients. In the U.S. you can use striped bass as a substitute for scorfano.
pinch of sea salt and a few grinds of black pepper
drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
8 oz cherry tomatoes
juice of 1/4 medium lemon
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the fish on the baking sheet and sprinkle with dried oregano, salt, black pepper and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the fish easily flakes when pricked with a fork. In the meantime, add the cherry tomatoes, basil, lemon juice and salt to a container. Use a hand immersion mixer to blend the ingredients together. Adjust the flavor with salt or basil to taste. Put the sauce in the freezer until the fish is ready. Pour the cooled sauce over the fish and serve. A side of mashed potatoes goes well with this meal.
This is a modern version of an Etruscan stew.
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
20 oz beef short ribs
2 chicken legs, cut into thighs and drumsticks, thighs cut in half
10 oz pork sausages, cut into 1 ½” lengths
1 large red onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, diced in 3/4″ pieces
2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
1 pinch red pepper flakes
2 sprigs rosemary
3 tbsp Italian parsley, chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
8 oz red wine
15 oz can tomatoes, chopped
2 tbsp tomato paste
8 oz beef stock
8 oz chicken stock
8 oz water
Heat the oil in a large casserole over moderate flame and brown each piece of meat separately, removing each from the pan and reserving it as you go. Add the onion, carrot, celery, red pepper flakes, rosemary, parsley and garlic to the pan. Sauté gently for about 10 minutes until the onion is soft. Add all the meat back to the pan, turn up the heat and add the wine. Allow the alcohol to boil for a minute and then add the tomatoes, tomato paste, beef stock, chicken stock and water. Mix well. Bring to the boil and simmer 1-1½ hours, until the meat is very tender. Taste and season. Remove from the heat and allow to stand 5 minutes. Serve each portion with crusty bread.