6 Italian Packed Lunches: A Culinary Journey Through Flavors and Traditions

6 Italian Packed Lunches: A Culinary Journey Through Flavors and Traditions

May 24, 2024Federico Milone

Italy, renowned for its rich culinary tradition, doesn't just express itself in Michelin-starred restaurants and lavishly laid tables. The true essence of Italian gastronomy can also be found in the simplicity of a packed lunch. An opportunity to savor genuine and delicious dishes, saving money and enjoying the true soul of “the beautiful country”.

1. Rice Salad: Freshness on the Go

The undisputed queen of summer lunches, rice salad offers endless variations to suit every palate. From the classic with tuna and vegetables to gourmet versions with smoked salmon and ricotta, or vegan options with tomatoes and olives, rice salad is a refreshing, versatile, and easy-to-prepare dish. For an extra burst of flavor, try a spoonful of mayonnaise or balsamic vinegar.

2. Cold Pasta: A Timeless Classic

A simple and quick option, cold pasta with pesto can be customized in countless ways. One of the most beloved recipes features pesto and cherry tomatoes, enriched with mozzarella for a vibrant green and flavorful first course. The fragrant Genoese pesto combined with the creamy cheese and juicy tomatoes makes this dish perfect for summer and a breeze to prepare. Substitute the mozzarella with ricotta or crumbled feta for a similar texture. This cold pasta can also be served with another type of cheese, such as Philadelphia. And if you don’t have fresh cherry tomatoes or want to make the recipe even faster, you can use delicious, dried tomatoes in oil.

3. Pasta Frittata: A Savory Transformation

Pasta Frittata, or Neapolitan macaroni frittata, is a hearty and delicious one-pan wonder with a rich history. This resourceful dish uses leftover pasta, transformed into a flavorful and irresistible frittata with eggs, cheese, scamorza, and salami or pancetta. It's a classic Neapolitan dish perfect for picnics or enjoying by the sea. Traditionally made with spaghetti, a version using rigatoni is called “frittata di maccheroni” in Naples.

4. Savory Pie: A One-Pan Delight

Ricotta and spinach pie is a delicious, easy, and impressive single-serve meal. Flaky puff pastry encases a rich and creamy filling made with cooked spinach, eggs, ricotta cheese, grated Parmesan, salt, and pepper. In just 30 minutes, you'll have a fragrant and appetizing pie, perfect for picnics or packed lunches. Enjoy it hot, at room temperature, or even as an appetizer for dinner.  For a lighter flavor, consider a brisée or shortcrust pastry crust.

5. Potato Focaccia: Simplicity and Taste

Potato focaccia is a quick and tasty rustic treat made with an instant-rise dough, perfect for last-minute lunches. This tempting dish requires just flour, instant yeast, oil, potatoes, salt, and rosemary. The thinly sliced potatoes are placed directly on top of the easy-to-make dough. Enjoy it as an appetizer, side dish, or a delicious snack.

6. Farro Salad: A Nutritious Alternative

Farro salad with vegetables is a perfect summer lunch option - light, fresh, and flavorful. This dish can be prepared in advance and stored in the refrigerator for a couple of days. Farro, a tasty cereal, can be enjoyed in many ways. In summer, it shines in refreshing salads or alternative "risottos."  Farro salad is a great alternative to classic rice salad and can be customized with your favorite ingredients. We recommend starting with pearled farro, which doesn't require soaking.

These 6 dishes are just a taste of the endless possibilities offered by the world of Italian packed lunches. With a pinch of creativity and the right ingredients, it is possible to create ever new combinations of flavors, for a unique and unforgettable packed lunch.


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