• Yield: Serves 1 (multiply quantities by number of portions desired)

Nostrano is a particular Italian word. Very simply, it means "ours." Yet it implies much more: home, family, terrain, tradition. So sapori nostrani, in which the word is used in its plural form, would immediately suggest the comfort and intimacy derived from familiar flavors. I tasted this dish in Spilimbergo, one of Italy's foremost centers of the art of making mosaics. Many dishes there have that name even if they are more a combination of distinct ingredients that retain their characteristics rather than joining in a mosaic. This recipe uses most of the classic foods found in central Friuli.

Wine: Merlot, preferably from Grave

Ingredients for Polenta With Five Flavors (Mosaico di Sapori Nostrani)

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter

  • 5 slivers fresh garlic

  • 4 ounces funghi porcini, carefully cleaned and sliced thin, (can substitute 1/2 to 1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms, soaked in hot water 20-30 minutes, drained, rinsed of any grit, and patted dry)

  • 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh parsley

  • 1 cup hot, soft, freshly made yellow polenta

  • 2 thin slices prosciutto di San Daniele

  • 2 ounces fresh young Montasio cheese, sliced quite thin (can substitute Asiago or fine Italian Fontina cheese)


1. Preheat oven to 350° F.

2. Once all of the ingredients are at hand, melt the butter in a small frying pan. Add the garlic and swirl until the butter takes on the garlic fragrance.

3. Add the mushrooms and sauté actively just until they are soft and have yielded any of their liquid.

4. Then toss in the parsley and remove the pan from the heat.

5. Pour the polenta into the middle of an ovenproof plate, forming a well in the middle.

6. Line the well with the slices of prosciutto and then add the mushroom mixture.

7. Cover this thoroughly with the slices of cheese and then place the dish in the oven.

8. Bake for about 5 minutes, or just until the cheese has melted without burning.

Adapted from La Terra Fortunata: The Splendid Food and Wine of Friuli-Venezia Giujlia, Italy's Great Undiscovered Region by Fred Plotkin (Broadway Books, 2001).

Fred Plotkin is the author of nine books, including Italy for the Gourmet Traveler. He has written for publications including The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Opera News, Time, Newsweek, Gourmet, GQ, Travel & Leisure, Food & Wine, Bon Appétit, Gastronomica and Saveur. He has worked in opera and classical music for more than 35 years.