• Food & Wine

At table with traditional Lombardy food recycling recipes

Sautéed risotto, cassoeula, meatballs and rissoles, creams and cheese fondues, cream of asparagus stalk, cream made of pumpkin husks and seeds - cooking with leftovers is a tradition in Lombardy.

 

From meatballs made with leftover boiled meat to sautéed rice, from cream of asparagus stalk to cream made with pumpkin husks and seeds, to a chocolate cake which uses dry bread instead of flour... Cooking with leftovers is something that has always been done in Lombardy: bread, meat, vegetables and cheeses can have a new lease of life in imaginative food recycling recipes - both sweet and savoury. Here are some suggestions for you on how to make an entire meal using leftovers from the best-loved dishes in Lombardy regional cuisine.

 

Yellow risotto "alla Milanese" gets a new lease of life in a hundred different ways
These are the varieties of rice most commonly grown in Lombardy: Originario, Carnaroli, Balilla, Vialone nano, Arborio, Ribe, Maratelli, Sant’Andrea, Marchetti, Baldo and Roma. There are over 100 in total!  This is why a Lombardy dining table will never be without a good risotto. And also a sautéed risotto. If you happen to have some excellent yellow rice "alla Milanese" with saffron left over, you can sauté it in a pan, pressing it down and frying on both sides, without adding anything: it already contains butter, cheese and so much flavour.

 

Controlled Designation of Origin (DOC) second courses made with pork scraps and boiled meat leftovers: cassoeula and meatballs
A typical dish in traditional Lombardy cuisine, the cassoeula, is proof that you should never throw away any part of the pig: the animal's rind, nose, ears, trotters, head and ribs are all used for flavouring savoy cabbage, a major element in the rural Lombardy cuisine of yesteryear. Today this dish, made using the cheapest cuts of pork, still remains the prince of the Controlled Designation of Origin (DOC) Milanese dishes.

Another food recycling second course to be found on a Lombardy dining table is meatballs made from leftover boiled meat or from leftovers from the Sunday roast. In Milanese dialect, these are called "mundeghin". Leftover cured meats, egg, cheese, milk, lemon zest, nutmeg, garlic and parsley are also added to the mince.

 

Stale bread - raw material for imaginative cuisine
A food recycling ingredient which offers a huge variety of options is stale bread: bread rissoles, for example, are another classic example of reusing food in Lombardy cuisine. Fried and crispy or soft, cooked in tomato juice - something to try right away!  

You can use stale bread to make a delicious chocolate bread cake that tastes just the way it used to. You need dry bread, milk, cocoa and chocolate, raisins, 1 apple and 2 eggs. But there's nothing to say you can't add leftover nuts and candied fruit from your pantry, or amaretto biscuits like the ones used around Crema.

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