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Matt Preston ranks his 10 favourite Italian dishes in a ‘controversial’ list

Celebrity chef Matt Preston has ranked his favourite Italian foods in a ‘controversial’ list that saw spaghetti bolognese, polenta and arancini miss out on the top 10.

The 59-year-old former Masterchef Australia judge believes lasagna is ‘without doubt, the greatest Italian dish ever made’ and anointed it the top spot in his list, before neapolitan pizza and granita.

While he does enjoy panna cotta, minestrone and pappa al pomodoro (a tomato-based bread soup), they weren’t unforgettable enough to enter the ranking system either, he told Delicious.

So what does Matt enjoy eating when he’s enjoying time in Italy? 

Celebrity chef Matt Preston has ranked his favourite Italian foods in a ‘controversial’ list that saw spaghetti bolognese, polenta and arancini miss out on the top 10

1. Lasagna

The layers of béchamel sauce, pasta sheets and ragu are enough to make Matt’s heart sing, and is why he has placed lasagna – or lasagne depending on what part of Italy you’re from – in first position.

The delicious meal, which can take hours to prepare, is a favourite ‘first course’ at Easter and Christmas gatherings in Italy – and just as popular in households across Australia. 

There are plenty of additional vegetables and varieties – like spinach and ricotta – that can be enjoyed alongside the original version.

The layers of béchamel sauce, pasta sheets and ragu are enough to make Matt's heart sing, and is why he has placed lasagna - or lasagne depending on what part of Italy you're from - in first position

The layers of béchamel sauce, pasta sheets and ragu are enough to make Matt’s heart sing, and is why he has placed lasagna – or lasagne depending on what part of Italy you’re from – in first position

2. Neapolitan pizza

Made with tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese this Naples-style pizza is a source of pride in the region. 

The genuine Neapolitan pizza dough consists of wheat flour, natural Neapolitan yeast, salt and water, making it deliciously fluffy and light to eat.

The margherita pizza is another version of the original that was brought to the United States by Italian immigrants in the early 20th century. 

Made with tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese this Naples-style pizza is a source of pride in the region

Made with tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese this Naples-style pizza is a source of pride in the region

3. Granita

This dessert is semi-frozen by design and made from sugar, water and various flavourings.

‘My favourites are the almond and black mulberry ones served at Caffe Sicilia in Noto in Sicily,’ Matt said. ‘The nut one tastes like dreaming under a blanket of almond blossom. And what a beautiful dream… with just little hint of bitterness at the end.’

It works to cleanse the palate at the end of a meal and is especially enjoyed in the warmer months. 

This dessert is semi-frozen by design and made from sugar, water and various flavourings

This dessert is semi-frozen by design and made from sugar, water and various flavourings

Poll

What is your favourite Italian dish?

  • Lasagna 3 votes
  • Gelato 0 votes
  • Tiramisu 0 votes
  • Spaghetti bolognese 1 votes
  • Ravioli 1 votes
  • Pizza 4 votes

4. White truffle, porcini and parmesan salad

Italy is home to the white truffle so it makes sense for traditional cooks to include it in all manner of foods, including salads.

This particular one is native to Bologna and while not especially well-known outside of there, it’s an expression of Italian simplicity. 

‘The ingredients are expensive and have to be pristine given they’re adorned with nothing more than lemon juice and shaved parmesan – but this is a dish to push lasagne for the title,’ Matt said. 

5.  Ravioli

These simple envelopes filled with all manner of meats and cheeses can be difficult to perfect, and Matt admits to eating his fair share of ‘bastardised’ versions.

But when done right the result is a burst of flavoursome pasta beloved by generations of Italians.

Early versions of the pasta can be traced back to the Roman Empire, but it wasn’t until the Middle Ages that the ravioli we know today was first created.

These simple envelopes filled with all manner of meats and cheeses can be difficult to perfect, and Matt admits to eating his fair share of 'bastardised' versions

These simple envelopes filled with all manner of meats and cheeses can be difficult to perfect, and Matt admits to eating his fair share of ‘bastardised’ versions

6. Tiramisu

This boozy dessert flavoured with coffee is the perfect finale to a meal filled with hearty pastas and salad.

It is made of ladyfingers dipped in coffee, layered with a whipped mixture of eggs, sugar and mascarpone cheese, flavoured with cocoa. 

Matt believes it was first made in the 1960s, meaning it’s a fairly new creation, but no less enjoyed by the masses.

This boozy dessert flavoured with coffee is the perfect finale to a meal filled with hearty pastas and salad

This boozy dessert flavoured with coffee is the perfect finale to a meal filled with hearty pastas and salad

7. Risotto

Who can forget the sticky rice-filled dish that takes such care and finesse to create?

Matt says the recipe itself is ‘dead simple’, with one ladle of stock required for every two ladles of rice.

But the rice must be ‘toasted’ first and the stock added gradually with butter and grated cheese for the ultimate flavour explosion.  

Who can forget the sticky rice-filled dish that takes such care and finesse to create?

Who can forget the sticky rice-filled dish that takes such care and finesse to create?

8. Bean stew

What were Matt Preston’s top 10 favourite dishes? 

1. LASAGNA

2. NEAPOLITAN PIZZA

3. GRANITA

4. WHITE TRUFFLE, PORCINI and PARMESAN SALAD

5. RAVIOLI

6. TIRAMISU

7. RISOTTO

8. BEAN STEW

9. PORCHETTA

10. PESTO

Source: Delicious 

The Tuscan bean stew is remarkably high on Matt’s list of top dishes because of the way it transforms a humble bean with vegetables into a magnetic broth with minimal ingredients.

The chef likes to pair his stew with a few drops of balsamic vinegar but otherwise left entirely traditional.

It’s the ultimate winter warmer for those who don’t want to be weighed down by a meaty dish.

9.  Porchetta

Porchetta is a savoury, fatty and boneless pork roast of Italian culinary tradition. 

The carcass is deboned, arranged carefully stuffed with liver, wild fennel, all fat and skin still on spitted or roasted, traditionally over wood for at least eight hours. 

It can be served as the centrepiece of a dinner or in other dishes, like pasta. 

10. Pesto 

The basil, garlic, pine nuts, parmesan and olive oil puree is extremely versatile, and for this reason has made the list.

Matt argues that the basil can tend to be overpowering but for the most part he enjoys experimenting with it in his cooking. 

It’s an age-old quick pasta sauce recipe that pleases the whole family. 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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