Piatti a Base di Roma (The Dishes of Rome)

For Starters:

Fiori di Zucca: A dish with zucchini flowers deep-fried and filled with mozzarella cheese and anchovies. This dish is best served in the summer months in Italy, when the zucchini harvest is at its peak. The zucchini flower has a mild zucchini flavor with a creamy texture contrasted by the light and crispy fried batter exterior. Fiori di zucca is one of the city’s signature dishes. The original recipe calls for anchovies, but they can be omitted based on your palate.


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For the flowers:

  • 12-16 zucchini blossoms
  • 2 balls of mozzarella
  • 6-8 anchovies (optional)

For the batter:

  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups of flour
  • 2 pinches of salt
  • vegetable oil

Remove the stem of the zucchini flowers. Carefully separate the petals of the golden blossoms and remove the stamen or pistils. Wash the flowers carefully under cold water, and pat dry with a cotton cloth or paper towels. Cut the mozzarella into strips around ¼ inch wide. Slice the anchovies in half lengthwise. Carefully insert a strip of mozzarella and a halved anchovy into each flower. Close the blossoms around the mozzarella and anchovies and twist the ends carefully keeping the filling inside. Place ample vegetable oil into a deep frying pan and heat the oil over high gas. Prepare the batter by stirring together the water, egg, and salt in a shallow bowl, gradually sifting the flour into the water and mixing with a wire whisk. The batter should be moderately dense. You may add flour or water as needed until the batter reaches the consistency of your preference. Dip each flower into the batter, coating it completely, and place it carefully into the hot oil. Turn it gently until all sides have fried to a golden brown. Remove from oil and set on a plate covered in paper towels to absorb the extra oil. If desired, sprinkle a dusting of salt over the fried zucchini flowers. Can be served hot or at room temperature.

Suppli: Breaded, fried croquettes made of rice in Bolognese sauce, filled with mozzarella cheese. A Roman food classic commonly found in the region of Lazio, but also found elsewhere in Italy but with varried recipes. The name originally comes from the French word for surprise, referring to the surprise, which one would find in the center of these delicious rice balls. The classic suppli is made with a Bolognese/Ragu sauce with a warm center of stringy mozzarella.


Photo credit: Manuela Zangara

Makes 6 medium suppli

  • 200 grams rice (carnaroli/risotto rice)
  • 150 grams peeled or chopped tomatoes
  • 80 grams minced beef
  • ½ glass of wine
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 medium mozzarella (cubed)
  • breadcrumbs (for coating)
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • vegetable stock or boiling water
  • 2 eggs

To prepare the ragu sauce, brown the meat in some olive oil, add the red wine and the tomatoes. Cook your rice directly in the sauce mixture, adding the broth or water. Salt to taste. Let this cook and thicken until the liquid has completely evaporated. If the rice seems cooked before the liquid has absorbed, drain the rice and place the finished risotto in a separate bowl to cool. Ideally, suppli are made with leftover rice from the day before, as the rice becomes sticky and the suppli hold together better. Beat the eggs and chop the mozzarella into little cubes. Grab a handful of rice with wet hands, place a cube of mozzarella in the center, and fold the rice around it to form a nice oval shape. Dip the suppli in the egg, and then in breadcrumbs, making sure it holds together in the process. Heat the oil well (the perfect temperature should be around 180 degrees C) and deep-fry the suppli until golden brown. Drain and serve hot.

First Course:

Gnocchi alla romana: The first noted recipe dates back to the 13th century. The Romans put their own spin on gnocchi by using semolina instead of potato, by cutting them into larger discs and baking the dish. Originally this type of gnocchi was made using crust less bread while adding plenty of eggs, cheese, and butter to the dish.



Photo credit: Ilaria’s Perfect Recipes

  • 4 cups of milk
  • 1 cup semolina
  • ¼ cup melted unsalted butter
  • 1 egg plus 2 yolks
  • 1/3  cup of parmigiano reggiano, grated
  • A pinch of salt
  • A pinch of ground nutmeg

For topping:

  • 2 tablespoons of melted butter
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup grated parmigiano

Rub butter in a baking tin to grease. Beat together butter, parmigiano and egg/egg yolks and season with nutmeg and salt and set aside. Heat milk in a large saucepan. When milk is boiling, turn heat down and pour in semolina while stirring. Make sure you pour in a slow and steady stream. Increase heat again to medium. Cook until milk has been absorbed and mixture pulls away from the sides of the pan in one mass (about 6 to 10 minutes). Remove semolina from heat and beat in the butter/parmigiano/egg mixture. When smooth, spoon mixture into baking tin – spread evenly in the pan. Use a knife or a spatula if necessary. The semolina should be about 2 inches thick. Set aside to cool for ½ hour. Preheat oven to 375 degreed. Grease another baking dish. Remove cooled semolina from other dish (it should slip out if properly greased) and place on counter/board. Using a cookie cutter or 3 inch-diameter juice glass (or whatever else that is about 3 inches wide and circular) cut semolina slices. Arrange these slices slightly overlapping in your newly greased baking pan. Make the topping by blending the butter and cream and pour over the unbaked gnocchi. Sprinkly parmigiano on top. Bake in oven for 25-30 minutes or until golden. Feel free to put under the broiler for 3 minutes to make top extra-crispy.

Spaghetti all’amatriciana: Originally from the town of Amatrice (in the mountainous province on Rieti of the Lazio region) Amatriciana originates from a recipe named gricia. Grici were what the Romans called the sellers of bread and because a number of them emigrated from the Swiss canton of Grisons. The sauce was and still is prepared with guanciale (cured pork cheek) and grated pecorino. The Amatriciana recipe became increasingly famous in Rome over the 19th and early 20th centuries due to the pluricentennial connection between Rome and Amatrice. The recipe was extremely well received and rapidly went on to be considered a classic of the Roman Cuisine even though it originated elsewhere. While in Amatrice the dish is prepared with spaghetti, the use of bucatini has become extremely common in Rome, and is now prevalent. Other types of dry pasta are also used, whereas fresh pasta is generally avoided.


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  • 2 tbs. olive oil
  • ¼ lb. guanciale, chopped (may substitute Canadian bacon)
  • ¼ large onion, chopped
  • 1 small hot pepper (peperoncino), chopped
  • 6 small tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • ½ tsp. salt (or to taste)
  • 1 lb. spaghetti
  • grated pecorino cheese

Heat oil in a pan and brown the guanciale. Remove the guanciale from the pan, blotting dry between paper towels. Set the guanciale aside and keep warm. Saute onions, hot pepper, tomatoes, and salt in the leftover oil, then add the guanciale to the mixture. Prepare pasta and place in a bowl, add the sauce, and sprinkle with grated cheese.

Spaghetti alla Carbonara: Since the name is derived from carbonara (the Italian word for charcoal burner), some believe the dish was first made as a hearty meal for Italian charcoal workers. The name is also said to come from a dish made in the Appenine mountains of Abruzzo by woodcutters who made charcoal for fuel. They would cook the dish over a hardwood charcoal fire and use penne rather than spaghetti because it was easier to toss with the eggs and cheese. Another theory is that the food shortages after the liberation of Rome in 1944 were so severe that allied troops distributed military rations consisting of powdered egg and bacon, which the local populace used with water to season the easily stored dried pasta.



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  • 400 grams spaghetti
  • 200 grams bacon
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon grated pecorino
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper

Dice the bacon into 5 mm cubes and brown in a pan with a few tablespoons of oil and the clove of garlic (removing the garlic as soon as it begins to colour). In a warmed serving bowl, beat 2 whole eggs and 2 yolks at room temperature with the grated cheeses. Season with a pinch of salt and plenty of freshly ground pepper, and stir well to form a smooth, creamy sauce. The sauce should be prepared when the pasta is almost done. Boil and drain the pasta, transfer it to the serving bowl, mix with the egg and the crunchy hot bacon and serve piping hot.

For dessert:

Ravioli di Ricotta: These are a sweet cookie/pastry from Lazio, made by stuffing ravioli with a sugary ricotta filling and frying them. This celebrity pastry is typical of the Lazio region. Ravioli di Ricotta dates back to the Roman age and although there are many variations of this dish, the original is filled with ricotta.


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For the dough

  • 2 cups and 1 tablespoon (250g) flour
  • egg
  • 5 tablespoons (60g) softened unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons of white wine
  • the grated zest of half of a lemon
  • a small pinch of salt

For the filling

  • 12 ounces (300g) fresh ricotta, put through a strainer
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • an egg yolk

Make a mound of the flour on your work surface, with a well in the middle, and work into it the wine, softened butter, salt and lemon zest. Knead as normal, until the dough is smooth and elastic, cover it, and set it aside. While it’s resting combine the ingredients of the filling in a bowl and mix well. Roll out the dough quite thin, and dot half the sheet with dots of filling. Fold over the second half of the sheet, tamp the dough down between the mounds of filling, and cut the ravioli free with a serrated pastry wheel, tamping down the edges to make sure they’re well stuck. Fry the ravioli until golden in hot oil, drain well on absorbent paper, and serve hot, dusted with powdered sugar.

By: Caitlin Banbury

Caitlin is a senior English major and Education Abroad Peer Ambassador at UK. She studied abroad in Italy for an academic year (one semester each in Rome and Florence) with the partner program API.

For more information about the program that Caitlin completed, follow this link to the program page.