Italian Delights Part II: Saltimbocca, Baby!

Images from pixabay and pexels.

Sage, prosciutto ham, and chicken—a beautiful combination I never dreamed of before. Enjoying a unique meal with new people for the first time is truly a universal experience, one that I never took for granted pre-pandemic. Being stuck inside so much, I’ve had plenty of time to try my hand at global homemade dishes that right now I can only dream of tasting in their native countries. One such dish is the mouthwatering Italian dish saltimbocca.

What is saltimbocca?

It's a meat dish, veal or chicken, topped with sage, prosciutto ham, and cheese(optional), lightly breaded on one side (depending on the recipe as some recipes coat both sides with seasoned flour), fried in oil, and drizzled with a wine sauce.

Why of all Italian dishes did I choose this one?

Well, I wanted to try a dish that’s lesser-known here in the US. For me, it was beyond what I imagined. The prosciutto had a light crisp texture to it. The chicken I’d tenderized with a mallet was juicy. The sage lent its beautiful citrussy/woodsy scent and flavoring, and the wine sauce was the icing on the cake.

I was surprised by how simple it was to make and excited to try a dish I'd featured in my story.

There are few things as special as someone extending the hand of hospitality to you with their own family’s heirloom recipes. And it seemed perfect for saltimbocca to be the main course my character Joy gets to taste at her Italian classmate’s house.


The following is an excerpt from that scene.

After forty minutes, dinner was served: oven-roasted herbed potatoes, veal saltimbocca—veal chops stuffed with cheese, wrapped in prosciutto and herbs, then breaded—freshly baked bread, and a green salad. Mrs. Vitali let me help Giovanni set the dining room table, so I didn’t feel completely useless.

Throughout dinner, her husband entertained us with jokes, goofy facial expressions, and sound effects. He’d crack himself up until his wheezy laugh went silent, which was way funnier to watch than anything he could’ve said. His English was excellent, but the humor died somewhere in the middle of translation every time. I lacked the heart to tell him.

“Ma!” Giovanni whispered, annoyed by Mrs. Vitali’s endless fussing.

I hid my smile behind a napkin whenever she dabbed at his face to clear away any minor splash of sauce.

No wonder his table manners were so on-point. She never cut the kid a break. Swatting her away, he’d mutter under his breath and sip his sparkling water, increasingly embarrassed. I couldn’t help but wonder: would it have bothered him at all if I hadn’t been here?

“You like my Giovanni?” Mrs. Vitali inquired, raising her thinly arched eyebrows.

“Yes, as a friend.”

Without a word, she hopped from her seat. Her all-knowing grin made me uneasy, even after I had prepared myself for the slightest hint of disappointment. Instead, she set a dessert glass of zabaglione with fresh-cut strawberries before each of us.

—Chapter 4: Buon Appetito


The above pictures are how mine turned out. I kept it light and served it on a bed of greens. I definitely plan on making it again and trying out other versions as well.

Below is the link for the recipe I used if you want to try it yourself. As long as you’re not vegan or vegetarian, you won’t be disappointed.

Tell me in the comments below if you’ve ever had it before and what your thoughts were at first bite.

If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, post pictures of your own saltimbocca and tag me in it. I'd love to see how yours turned out and if you've made any variations to it.

In the next blog post, I will be making pasta al forno, a dish every person on the planet knows but doesn't realize they know. You'll see what I mean. Until then, buon appetito!


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