Fritto misto is one of my all-time favorite Italian dishes. If it’s on the menu when I’m in Italy, then I’m ordering it especially if I’m in a seaside location. If you’re not familiar with fritto misto, the literal translation is “mixed fry.” Traditionally, it’s a mix of different types of seafood or perhaps vegetables depending on where you’re eating it. Think calamari, baby octopus, sardines, and shrimp. Perhaps you’ll encounter fried lemons, summer squash, or fried sage. When done right, fritto misto has the lightest fried batter. It’s like biting into a crisp piece of air with tender seafood inside.
Some cooks in Italy use semola or semolina in the fritto misto batter rather than all-purpose flour. Semola has a finer grind than semolina, the latter of which has a texture more similar to cornmeal. But both result in a crispy fritto misto coating with more bite.
Since we’re in the autumn season, I decided to recreate this tasty Italian classic with seasonal autumn produce. This season is one of my favorites for vegetables in particular. Taking additional inspiration from Japanese vegetable tempura, I selected green beans, broccolini, sweet potato, and sage for some added seasonal flavor. I also threw in slices of halloumi cheese to mix things up with a tangy bite. Various types of thinly sliced autumn squash, parsnips, or carrots would all make delectable additions to this autumn fritto misto, too. For the dipping sauce, I wanted an amalgamation of acidic, sweet, and fruity flavors. Hence the inclusion of maple syrup and pomegranate juice, two ingredients reminiscent of the season.
Italian Wine Pairings for Fritto Misto
Wines with high acidity and fruity flavors make the best wine pairings for fried foods like fritto misto. Though countless wines meet these requirements, sparkling wines truly make the ultimate match. They have the added bonus of refreshing bubbles to cleanse the palate from the greasiness of frying. Their fresh acidity has the same palate-cleansing effect and the fruity flavors really pop against the salty, savory fried batter.
When savoring fritto misto in Italy, I usually opt for a glass of Prosecco or Franciacorta. Made from the Glera grape variety, the natural fruitiness and subtle sweetness of Prosecco make it an ideal wine to pair with fried dishes. My preferred Prosecco is just about anything from the Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superior D.O.C.G. You can learn more about Prosecco and how it’s made here.
Franciacorta is a more elevated option for an Italian sparkling wine. These wines are made in the metodo classico, or traditional method, just like Champagne. If you’re not familiar, this basically means they get their bubbles from a secondary fermentation which takes place within the bottle in which the wine is sold.
Franciacorta also delivers vibrant acidity, fruit and floral aromas to enhance the flavors of fritto misto. Additionally, you’ll find greater texture, complexities, and perhaps some flavors of brioche, toast, or almonds from this wine’s fermentation method.
Yet for my autumn fritto misto with maple pomegranate dipping sauce, I chose a sparkling wine from another Western European country – Spain.
Spanish Cava Wine Pairing
Cava is a fantastic option when you’re craving sparkling wine, but don’t want to dish out the big bucks for Champagne. These Spanish sparkling wines are also made in the traditional method. So, with the right producer, you can expect delicious complexities with fragrant white fruit and floral aromas and a palate bursting with fresh acidity and fruit flavors. Traditionally, Cava is made from three main grape varieties: Macabeu, Parellada, and Xarel-lo. Interested in learning more about how Cava is made and what to pair with it? Check out this blog post.
The Pairing: Los Dos Cava Brut N/V
The Los Dos Cava Brut N/V is truly one of my most favorite Cava wines I’ve tasted to date. This Spanish sparkling wine offers a high quality-to-price ratio. After enjoying a glass, you’ll have a hard time believing it sells for just $13 a bottle.
Produced by Bodegas Borsao, this Cava is made with grapes sourced from family-owned vineyards in the Penedès region. Los Dos is produced with Macabeo, Xarel-lo and Parellada – Cava’s classic blend.
“Like two dancers coming together to create the perfect routine, Los Dos celebrates the intricate steps in the dance of winemaking.”
This wine spends ten months on the lees in bottle, resulting in expressive aromas of green apple, pear, and white florals followed by flavors of dried nuts and baked bread with exceptional structure.
Palm & Vine Tasting Notes: Los Dos Cava Brut
- Brilliant golden-yellow with green reflections.
- Delightful medium intensity aromas of apple, orange blossom, lemon peel, lime verbena, and a hint of candied pineapple.
- Medium bodied with medium+ acidity; very vibrant and zesty on the palate with a velvety, creamy finish and a touch of brioche flavors.
When enjoyed alongside my autumn fritto misto, the acidity of the Los Dos Cava beautifully cuts through the greasiness of the fritto misto. The herbaceous vegetal flavors of the broccolini, green beans, and sage coupled with the savory, crispy fried ingredients made the fruit flavors of the wine pop on the palate. Those vegetal flavors also brought out the floral aromas of the wine even further.
Moreover, the Los Dos Cava has 7 g/L of residual sugar, meaning there’s just a hint of sweetness balanced out by the high acidity. This subtle sweetness pairs wonderfully with the maple infused dipping sauce and the savory quality of this dish. Honestly, this is such an easy recipe to pair that will wow your guests this holiday season, even more so when paired with the Los Dos Cava Brut N/V.
The Autumn Fritto Misto Recipe
Savor seasonal autumn vegetables fried in an airy batter with a sweet and tangy maple pomegranate dipping sauce.
- Neutral oil for frying. I used a mixture of avocado oil and coconut oil.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour (8.5 oz)
- 1/4 cup cornstarch (2.25 oz)
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 2 tsp kosher salt, divided
- 2.5 cups club soda
- 6 oz. green beans
- 8 oz. broccolini, stems trimmed and cut in half lengthwise
- 8-10 leaves fresh sage
- 1 sweet potato, peeled and cut in ½ in. wedges or thinner
- 8 oz. halloumi sliced ¼ in. thick
- 3 tbsp rice vinegar
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- 2 tbsp pomegranate juice
Heat 2 inches of neutral oil in a large Dutch oven overmedium heat to around 360°F.
Whisk together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and 1teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Whisk in club soda until mixture is smooth withthe consistency of a thin cake batter. Once mixed, let stand for 5 minutes.
Working in batches, dip green beans, pieces of broccolini, sage, sweet potato, and halloumi in batter. Let excess batter drip off, then add to hot oil. Fry, using tongs to turn occasionally, until golden and crispy, 1 to 3 minutes depending on size. Don’t overcrowd the Dutch oven with too many pieces at a time to avoid uneven cooking.
Transfer to a wire rack set over a baking dish or to a traylined with paper towel. Sprinkle fritto misto with remaining 1 teaspoon salt.
Whisk together the rice vinegar, sesame oil, maple syrup,and pomegranate juice in a small bowl. Serve with the fritto misto.