Lingua In Agrodolce

Eating nose to tail for beginners.

Eating innards is daunting for most of us. This is a way to get started with it, as tongue has a mild taste, isn’t really offal and just works great in this typical Italian recipe directly from Rome. Come on, try it out, you will be pleasantly surprised!

Chantal and I are standing in front of a trattoria in Rome, admiring what we just found: real, proper Roman cuisine. Forget pizza margherita, we are not in Naples! Don’t ask for risotto, this is for the northerners in Milan! Here you get the real deal, quinto quarto, the “fifth fourth”. Here you get offal. Trippa (tripe), fegato (liver), coda (oxtail) and cuore (heart) as far as you can see. Sadly it is a hot late spring noon, our last day in Rome, and heartbroken we wander off to the next gelateria to escape the heat.

A few years later I stumble upon a cookbook, instantly bringing back that day in Rome. Fittingly the book is simply called “Quinto Quarto” and, of course, an instant buy for me.

There are a few recipes in the book using beef tongue and I am intrigued. As a child, I didn’t like it at all, I think mainly because it is traditionally served in Austria as a cold, vinegar-y salad. But those recipes look promising and I adapt them to fit my needs (essentially upping the veggie content).

This is a very simple and quick recipe, but try to get the best ingredients as possible. That is the whole magic of Italian cooking: really good ingredients, working together in harmony. You could substitute the pine nuts for other nuts like almonds, as pine nuts are quite pricey, but they really work great here, so don’t skimp on them. Also get a really good red wine vinegar, not the cheap stuff you could use to clean your bathroom. Make sure you get the sweetest, ripest bell peppers (red) and onions (also red). They provide sweetness to the dish, contrasting the vinegar.


  • 500g cooked beef tongue
  • 700g sweet bell peppers
  • 400g onions
  • 40g pine nuts
  • 70g raisins
  • 40g tomato concentrate
  • 10ml olive oil
  • 200ml water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • red wine vinegar, salt, pepper to taste


  1. Peel the onions and finely slice them. Not too thin, they should stay whole while cooking the dish. Remove the stem and seeds from the peppers and also finely slice them. Again, not too thin.
  2. Place a sauce pan over medium heat, add the olive oil and gently fry the onions and peppers. Add the bay leaf and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Meanwhile slice the cooked tongue into nice chunks whichever size you like. We only need to reheat them, so no worries.
  4. When the vegetables are softened up, add the vinegar, tomato concentrate, pine nuts and raisins. Add the water and let reduce the sauce a little.
  5. Add the tongue, reheating it gently. Taste and season to perfection.


100g of this have the following macros:

  • 94kcal
  • 5,1g Protein
  • 7,4g Carbs
  • 4,4g Fat

As you can see, the macros of this dish probably won’t let it fit into the deepest cut, where there is almost no space left for anything else but protein. But for a short (imaginary) trip to Rome, it is a more than fine trade off.

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