May I ask you something? Usually this question arises during a cooking class, after the market visit and after my enthusiast praise for seasonal vegetables. Where are the vegetables on the menu at the restaurant? I thought they would have a predominant role in Italy, but they barely serve vegetables during the meal.
I’ve learnt so much talking with my guests during cooking classes and I’ve opened my eyes on habits that I used to gave for granted but which can be almost upsetting for those visiting Italy for the first time.
Vegetables are usually not served along with the main course, you must specifically order them picking one of the side dishes from the contorni menu. In a Tuscan trattoria you might find fagioli all’olio (beans with olive oil), spinaci saltati (sautéed spinach), insalata verde (green salad, usually lettuce), pomodori (tomatoes), verdure grigliate (grilled vegetables) or patate al forno (roasted potatoes).
Those vegetables, for a foreign palate, are generally overcooked. It is not a chef’s mistake nor a reheated side dish of the previous day, it’s a well rooted habit of trattorie and osterie, which traces mamma’s and nonna’s way of cooking.
I had to unlearn the automatic approach which would take me to boil broccoli, cauliflower, French beans and spinach until wilted and collapsing….