Emilia Romagna’s traditional Easter fare

Traditional Easter-time dishes from Emilia-Romagna

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The first warm days of spring mean Easter and its traditional lunch are just around the corner. In Emilia-Romagna, this holiday is celebrated as it should be with a traditional, delicious and varied array of dishes, which must include the classic duo of lasagna and lamb. Desserts at the end of the meal are refreshingly simple, a typical characteristic of peasant cooking.

First courses

Although nowadays this classic baked pasta dish is made all year round and not just for festivities as it used to be, lasagna always makes a timely appearance at Easter lunch. The most famous recipe for lasagna hails from Bologna, which layers pasta sheets, spinach, meat sauce and béchamel sauce one after the other to create a pillowy-soft brick that melts in the mouth with every bite.

Another lesser known Easter-time dish that would be served as a first course is tardura, a special broth from Romagna that goes back a long way and is quick and easy to make. This soup is made by combining eggs, parmesan cheese, breadcrumbs and nutmeg, which is all cooked in meat broth.

Lamb and rabbit

When it comes to the second meat-based course, the choice often falls on the main star of any Easter lunch: lamb. In Romagna, lamb is accompanied with peas and pork belly, or with fennel in a lamb and fennel stew, or with balsamic vinegar when served as lambs liver cooked in vinegar.

Rabbit is also considered a traditional meat to serve at Easter in Emilia-Romagna, owing to the fact it used to be easier to get hold of than lamb. Two great classic dishes that are made using this meat include coniglio alla cacciatora, hunter’s rabbit stew and coniglio in porchetta, a rabbit roulade wrapped in cured ham.

Emilia-Romagna’s Easter bread loaf, sweet panina bread and other typical desserts

Last but not least, we come to Easter desserts, Emilia-Romagna’s peasant food at its finest. In Parma, Easter tastes like Torta Maria Luigia, a delicacy made with hazelnut flour, custard and chocolate ganache, while in Piacenza, the Easter dessert is called latte in piedi or "standing milk", which used to be served when eggs were more plentiful in the countryside. In Reggio Emilia, on the other hand, Easter lunch traditionally ends with zuppa inglese.

If rice cake is king in Bologna, in Modena there is no Easter without the colomba di Pavullo, a rich cake filled with jam, pine nuts and sultanas.

Ferrara celebrates Easter with its zuccherini, dry doughnuts that show the influence of the Jewish community on the local cuisine, while gialletti or piadòt are typical Easter biscuits from the Ravenna area, which owe their name to the corn flour used in their preparation.

Traditionally, a special type of sweet Easter bread loaf called pagnotta pasquale would be served on Easter morning in rural areas of Romagna, to be eaten with “blessed”, hard-boiled eggs and local slices of salami.

The other type of Easter bread, panina pasquale, is richer, spicier and more cake-like. Made in the Apennines, this sweet bread combines aniseed liqueur, cognac, orange peel and pieces of lemon.

Lastly, no dessert course would be complete without the biscuity ciambella in the classic loaf shape, sprinkled with caster or granulated sugar. In the Rimini area, it was prepared in the days leading up to Easter, only to appear on tables on Sunday morning.

Last update 14/03/2024
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