Trota Lessa con Salsa Gonzaga

Trout with a Gonzaga-Style Sauce


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


    as an appetizer

Appears in

The Italian Regional Cookbook

The Italian Regional Cookbook

By Valentina Harris

Published 2017

  • About

In 1509, Isabella d’Este, noble wife of Francesco Gonzaga, was Marchesa of Mantua and one of the leading women of the Italian Renaissance. In one of her famous letters, she begged her husband to hurry to Lake Garda from Mantova -the capital of their Duchy and less than 3 hours by road - to join her, to enjoy the local fish dishes. The original calls for pike, which are plentiful in Lake Garda, but I prefer trout, though any freshwater fish will work.


  • 1 onion, peeled and quartered
  • 1 celery stick, washed and halved
  • 1 large carrot, washed and halved
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 100 ml/ fl oz/scant ½ cup plus 30 ml/2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 115 ml/8 tbsp dry white wine
  • 1 kg/ lb fresh trout, gutted, washed inside and out and patted dry
  • 30 ml/2 tbsp salted capers, rinsed and dried
  • 1 large red bell pepper, washed
  • a handful of fresh flat leaf parsley
  • 3 canned anchovy fillets
  • 30 ml/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • grated zest of 1 small unwaxed lemon
  • sea salt and ground black pepper
  • grilled/broiled polenta, to serve (optional)


  1. Put the onion, celery, carrot, garlic, bay leaves, 30 ml/2 tbsp vinegar, 90 ml/6 tbsp of the wine and a pinch of salt into a fish kettle or wide pan. Place over a medium heat and bring to a gentle boil.
  2. Allow to simmer for about 10 minutes, then slide in the fish and simmer very gently for a further 8-10 minutes. Remove from the liquid, drain and leave to cool completely.
  3. Meanwhile, chop the capers, pepper and parsley together finely.
  4. Gently fry the anchovy fillets and oil in a pan until the anchovy is melted, then add the capers, pepper and most of the parsley, reserving a little for the garnish. Stir until softened, then add the remaining vinegar and wine and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season, set aside and keep warm.
  5. Skin and fillet the fish and arrange on a platter, then sprinkle with the lemon zest. Cover with the sauce and sprinkle with parsley. Serve with slices of polenta, if liked.