For anyone lucky enough to spend all or part of the holidays in Umbria it is a must to taste at least some of the region’s traditional Christmas dishes. Entrées, second courses, side dishes and desserts: the choice is vast therefore especially for Christmas Eve dinner and Christmas Day lunch, in addition to following tradition, every family adjusts the menu to preferences and old favourites. Therefore, here is a shortlist of the best Christmas dishes to enjoy in Umbria.
The Mouth-Watering Hors d’oeuvres Of The Umbrian Holidays
A typical dish, which is not restricted to the holidays, is the traditional cutting board with an assortment of cold cuts and cheeses, possibly served with a fragrant slice of ‘torta al testo’ (traditional flatbread) and a ‘bruschetta’ (slice of toasted bread) with this year’s new oil. More specific to Christmas are crostini* with chicken liver pâté (rounds of bread).
Entrees: Christmas traditions in Umbria
For Christmas Day lunch in Umbria, and other regions as well, there is one dish that is an absolute must: cappelletti* in broth (*stuffed pasta with meat filling), possibly home-made as per tradition. And anyone wishing to try another variation can opt for the traditional cappelletti garnished with meat sauce or with black or white truffle, one of Umbria’s most typical delicacies, or maybe even pappardelle (large flat pasta noodles) with hare or wild boar sauce.
Christmas and umbrian second courses
The most common second courses in traditional Umbrian cuisine, especially at Christmas, is bollito misto (mixed boiled meat) or capon in broth, often served with sauces, once the broth has been served to prepare the cappelletti. Highly traditional and undoubtedly delicious are meat parmigiana as well as roast lamb or pork and chicken in galantine. Tasty and ringing in the New Year, commonly prepared for both Christmas Eve and New year’s Eve dinner, are stewed sausages – alternatively there is also zampone (trotter) or cotechino (large pork sausage) – with lentils, possibly from Castelluccio di Norcia.
Side dishes: what shall we serve at the table for the holidays?
During the holidays flavour is the guiding theme, even in the choice of side dishes, and this is why you will be spoiled for choice at an Umbrian table. Starting with parmigiana, made either with artichoke thistle, also known locally as ‘gobbi’, or with aubergine. Less typical for the holidays yet common throughout this appetising period of the year, are vegetables that firstly boiled and then sautéed – spinach or chicory -, roast potatoes, mixed vegetables either grilled or gratin.
Christmas desserts: the most decadent in Umbria
In the green heart of Italy, the Christmas table is always laden with traditional Christmas desserts: panettone (sweet bread loaf), pandoro (sweet yeast bread), torrone (nougat) and much more. But the most typical Umbrian tradition will certainly not be outclassed in this category and therefore, to finish off lunches and dinners, enjoy the famous torciglione, a spiral-shaped cake made with a special almond paste, or panpepato (‘peppered bread’), especially typical to Terni, made with chocolate, honey, walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts and raisins, and pinoccate, diamond shaped sweets made with sugar and pine nuts, and are either vanilla or chocolate flavoured.