‘Tastasal’ is a flavoursome mixture of fresh minced meat with salt and spices, and is a typical product from the countryside near Verona: it is a staple ingredient for sausage-making. If you don't have access to Tastasal, just ask your butcher for sausage meat. This recipe was shared with us by Maria Grazia, a Cesarina who lives in the beautiful town of Bussolengo

Historically, local cooks would prepare this risotto to ‘test’ the saltiness of the tastasal, to decide whether it was ready to be made into sausages. This avoided making huge amounts of sausages which weren’t seasoned correctly! The name, in fact, derives from the dialect verb ‘tastare’ (to taste) and ‘sal’ (salt). In Maria Grazia’s version, she adds delicious radicchio to the mix, which is a classic ingredient in this region, available in autumn and winter. 

The vivid pink-purple leaves add a striking colour to the risotto, as well as lending a hint of bitterness that is the perfect balance with the sweet, almost nutty base of butter and rice. The original recipe calls for Vialone rice, but Maria Grazia prefers to use Carnaroli rice, which gives the dish a creamier consistency. 

Difficulty: medium
Preparation time: 10 mins
Cooking Time: 20 mins
Quantity: serves 4
Cost: low


350g Carnaroli rice
200g Tastasale (or sausage meat, preferably with garlic)
2 radicchi (about 200g)
80g gorgonzola cheese
1 shallot, finely chopped
100ml chicken stock
½ glass of white wine
50g grated parmesan cheese
Olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
A pinch of cinammon (if desired)

  1. Put a non-stick pan on the heat with a little olive oil. 
  2. Chop the shallot into fine slices and roughly chop the radicchio. Add to the pan. 
  3. Add some salt and leave to cook for 7-8 minutes. 
  4. Add the rice to the pan, and let it toast lightly for 2-3 minutes. Then add the wine and boil off the alcohol. 
  5. Heat the stock in a separate pan. 
  6. Continue cooking the shallot, radicchio and rice, as you incorporate the stock by the ladleful, mixing constantly. Add a whole rosemary sprig for flavour.
  7. In a small pan, fry the sausage meat (break it up with your wooden spoon in the pan) for 7-8 minutes. 
  8. After the rice has cooked for about 15 minutes, add the tastasale after discarding the rosemary. Cook for another 3-4 minutes. 
  9. Remove from the heat and stir in the gorgonzola, parmesan and cinnamon for about 2 minutes. Serve the risotto with a crack of black pepper to taste. 

Buon appetito!

Discover the Veneto region with locals