Although the Molise is a small region, its gastronomic identity is clear and well defined, its cuisine is ancient, genuine and rich of strong flavors end very little influenced by industrial and tourist needs.
In this agricultural land, regional food is based on locally-grown produce and sheep farming, and is also influenced by the nearby regions.
There are many typical dishes in Molise: from maccheroni alla chitarra to pallotte (round balls) of egg and cheese, pasta and beans, polenta, lamb and roast turcinelli (lamb offal).
Among the area’s best products , the extra-virgin olive oil, Isernia truffle and durum wheat pasta stand out.
There are several types of salame, including saggicciotti, liver sausage, ventricina salame and pampanera, oven-dried bacon with chilli pepper.
Dairy products are extremely popular in this region, in particular the caciocavallo and stracciata cheeses of Agnone and Alto Molise, fior di latte cow’s milk mozzarella from Boiano, buffalo mozzarella from Venafro and pecorino sheep’s cheese from Matese.
Scamorza cheese and burrino, a butter-filled cheese, are produced everywhere in Molise.
Local wines, particularly Biferno and Pentro, are excellent.
Among the typical desserts of Molise, top place goes to mostarda d’uva (jam made with grapes from the Molise countryside), then cauciuni (pastry filled with chickpeas), ostie farcite (wafers filled with walnuts and almonds), peccellate (pastry filled with grape syrup or jams) and cippillati (baked ravioli filled with sour black cherries) are the best way to end a good meal.
The cuisine of Molise is similar to the cuisine of Abruzzo, though there are some differences in the dishes and ingredients.
The flavors of Molise are dominated by the many aromatic herbs that grow there.
Some of the characteristic foods include spicy salami, a variety of locally produced cheeses, dishes using lamb or goat, pasta dishes with hearty sauces, and vegetables that grow in the region..
In addition to bruschetta, a typical antipasto will consist of any of several meat dishes, such as the sausages Capocolli, the fennel-seasoned Salsiccie al finocchio, Soppressata, ventricina, frascateglie or sanguinaccio.
In addition to these sausages, a variety of ham is available, such as smoked prosciutto. Frequently, the sausages are enjoyed with polenta.
Main dishes of the region include:
Brodosini made of tagliatelle in broth with pork cheek and fat
Calcioni di ricotta, a specialty of Campobasso, made of fried pasta stuffed with ricotta, provolone, prosciutto, and parsley, and usually served with fried artichokes, cauliflower, brains, sweetbread, potato croquette, and scamorza cheese Cavatiegi e Patane, or gnocchi served in a meat sauce of rabbit and pork.
A variety of Pasta, such as Cavatelli, Lasagna, or maccheroni served with a ragù of lamb or goat.
Pasta e fagioli, Pasta-and-white-bean soup cooked with pig's feet and pork rinds.
Polenta d'iragn, a polenta-like dish actually made of wheat and potatoes, sauced with raw tomatoes and pecorino.
Risotto alla marinara, a risotto with seafood.
Spaghetti with diavolillo, a strong chili pepper sauce.
Zuppa di cardi, a soup of cardoons, tomatoes, onions, pancetta, olive oil.
Zuppa di ortiche, a soup of nettle stems, tomatoes, onions, pancetta, olive oil.
Common second dishes (often meat and vegetable dishes) are:
Lamb, the most popular meat, served grilled, roasted, or stewed.
Many organ meats of lamb, especially tripe, are popular
Coniglio alla molisana, grilled rabbit pieces skewered with sausage and herbs
Mazzarelle, tightly wrapped rolls made with lung and tripe of lamb
Ragù d' agnello,braised lamb with sweet peppers, a specialty of Isernia
Torcinelli, rolled strips of lamb tripe, sweetbreads, and liver
Pamparella or pork pancetta dried with peperoncino, soaked in wine and cut into small pieces. Pamparella is used to flavor sauces, in particular the sauce for dressing the tacconi, a rustic pasta made with flour and water.
Typical vegetable dishes may include:
Carciofi ripieni, artichokes stuffed with anchovies and capers
Peeled sweet peppers stuffed with breadcrumbs, anchovies, parsley, basil and peperoncino, sautéed in a frying pan and cooked with chopped tomatoes
Cipollacci con pecorino, fried strong onions and pecorino cheese
Frittata con basilico e cipolle, omelette with basil and onions.
Fish dishes include red mullet soup, and spaghetti with cuttlefish. Trout from the Biferno river is notable for its flavor, and is cooked with a simple but tasty sauce of aromatic herbs. And finally Zuppa di pesce, a fish stew, a specialty of Termoli.
The cheeses produced in Molise are not very different from those produced in Abruzzo. The more common ones are Burrino and Manteca, soft, delicious, buttery cow's-milk cheeses, Pecorino, sheep's-milk cheese, served young and soft or aged and hard, Scamorza, bland cow's-milk cheese, often served grilled, and Caciocavallo, sheep's-milk cheese.
Sweets and desserts have an ancient tradition here and are linked to the history of the territory and to religious and family festivities. Most common are:
Calciumi (also called Caucioni or cauciuni), sweet ravioli filled with chestnuts, almonds, chocolate, vanilla, cooked wine musts, and cinnamon and then fried
Ciambelline, ring-shaped cakes made in the countryside. They may be all'olio (with olive oil) or al vino rosso (with red wine)
Ferratelle all'anice, anise cakes made in metal molds and stamped with special patterns
Ricotta pizza, a cake pan filled with a blend of ricotta cheese, sugar, flour, butter, maraschino liqueur, and chocolate chips.
Source: Adapted from wikipedia