My last article introduced everyone to our first exploration of this region and its food cuisine. Before we leave this region, let us head south from Merano (not to be confused with Murano) by passing Bolzano and end up in Val di Non, the apple epic center of Italy. The cuisine reflects the marriage and blending of the Italian/German cultures.
Apples have been a major product here since the Middle Ages. An 1856 nursery list, compiled by the guild of Bolzano farmers, listed 193 apple varieties that could be successfully grown here. Today there are more than eight thousand apple farmers in the region, and apple growing is one of the principal industries. Val di Non apples owe their superior qualities to the rich soil, to the magnesium-rich dolomite rock formations that are characteristic of the territory, as well as to the Val di Non’s temperate continental-Alpine climate.
Lidia Bastianich, our Chef and guide during our cuisine journey has uncovered many recipe delights in her travels to Italy. All the recipes she “ shares” with us represent the work of the local people and friends with whom she has made intimate contact—the farmers, shepherds, foragers, and artisans who produce regional cheeses, meats, olive oils and wines. Lidia shares the following recipe with us in her Cookbook, “ Lidia Cooks From the Heart of Italy.” ( 1.)
Salsicce e Mele al Tegame
Sausage and Apples ( One Pot Meal )
¼ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
12 Links-sweet Italian sausage ( about 2 ½ pounds)
2 medium onions ( halved then quartered)
1 ½ teaspoons Kosher salt
8 fresh Sage leaves
¼ cup of apple cider vinegar
4 golden delicious apples ( cored and cut into 8 wedges each
Heat a Large shallow Dutch oven or a very large skillet over medium heat. Add the oil. When the oil is hot, add the sausages and brown all over, about 5 to 8 minutes. Remove sausage links from the pan and ADD the onions and 1 teaspoon salt to the same pan. Stir to coat the onions in oil. COVER the skillet, and let the onions brown and wilt., stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Scatter in the SAGE leaves, add the vinegar, and ¾ cup of hot water. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook until onions are wilted, about 5 minutes.
ADD the apples, remaining ½ teaspoon salt, and 1 cup water. Bring to a simmer, set the cover ajar, and cook until apples are tender Add the sausage links back into the pot/pan. Cook about 10 to 15 minutes. Serve warm
In Lidia’s signature words, “ Tutti a Tavola a Mangiare!”
Ciao! Alla Prossima Volta ( Until the Next Time)
Gail Vilardo Frommeyer
FootNote: Taken from cookbook: “ Lidia Cooks From the Heart of Italy- A Feast of 175 Regional Recipes.”
**If any of our readers and friends have a family recipe from this region – I invite you to share for all of us to enjoy.