If you are planning an Italian gourmet dinner at home, there are a few must-have ingredients that complete any Italian dish. One of the most important things you need to know about Italian cooking is that the flavour of the main ingredients take precedence over spices.
Italian cuisine is generally low on spices and high on natural flavours and aromas of the main ingredients. Ensure that you get the freshest of spices and produce before attempting to recreate a typically Italian dish. Supplement different types of pasta with these ingredients for a fresh and authentic gourmet Italian dinner.
Fresh herbs and produce
A signature flavour commonly found in most Italian dishes is that of basil. This small and fragrant leafy herb is an indispensable part of pesto, soup, salads as well as rich sauces. Another easily identifiable ingredient in typical Italian savoury is the tomato. Fresh red and ripe tomatoes add flavour and nutrition to any Italian sauce.
When it comes to fish and meat, anchovies are the most popular. These small sea fish have a distinct and slightly pungent flavour and are commonly cooked with pasta and other vegetables. Smoked and unsmoked pancetta is a common ingredient in Italian cooking and often used to supplement sauces for pasta dishes.
Spices, aromatics and cooking oils
Garlic is one of the most common aromatics used in Italian cooking owing to its strong pungent flavour and high nutritional value. Balsamic vinegar is an ingredient that can turn any dish into an authentic Italian presentation. Peperoncini is a small spicy red chilli that is commonly used to flavour seafood and spicy sauces. Nutmeg is among the limited spices that comprise of Italian cuisine. All Italian cooking is carried out with olive oil, a light and healthy substitute for regular oil.
Creams and cheese
No Italian dish is complete without cheese or cream to enrich the existing flavours. One of the most common creams used in the renowned Alfredo sauce is Panna. Italian cooking also makes use of parmesan cheese, mozzarella cheese and ricotta cheese.
Health benefits of Italian food
Cheese used in various Italian dishes is a very good source of Calcium. Most of the dishes use parmesan and Romano cheese which are of good quality and have plenty of calcium. Olive oil, which is another common ingredient, contains unsaturated fats which are good for your heart. Pasta which is a staple Italian dish is a great source of complex carbohydrates.
Lily is an expert associated with the Good Food Network, a leader in French Food specialities. The Good Food Network also offers a great range of authentic ingredients to help you whip up the finest of Gourmet Italian & Greek Foods.