Italian food is world-renowned for being tasty, simple and delicious. Italian dishes are created using the fabulous produce that is grown throughout the country, and Italian cooking techniques are designed to bring out the flavour of each delicious ingredient.
Ingredients are selected for their taste and their seasonality, and Italian dishes are usually bold yet simple, powerful yet subtle. Several Italian meals have become meal staples around the world, such as pasta and pizza; however, despite its undeniable flavour, Italian cuisine is much more sophisticated than these two dishes alone.
Risotto is a typically Italian dish that has also become popular around the globe in recent years. Risotto translates as ‘rice’, and is a dish that is associated with Northern Italy. The risotto is cooked in stock or broth, and is continually stirred until a creamy consistency is created; butter, white wine, onion and parmesan can be found in many risotto dishes, as well as saffron, meats and fish.
Italians also enjoy antipasti –prepared with a number of different ingredients – which are typically served as a starter or appetizer. Ingredients for the antipasti vary greatly depending on the region and the season. However, most platters will include olives, cheeses, cured meats, artichoke hearts, pepperoncini, anchovies and mushrooms. Northern Italian antipasti is likely to include freshwater fish, prepared in several ways, as well as more mushrooms and local hard and soft cheeses, whereas Southern Italian antipasti typically consists of ‘nduja and soppressata – cured meats from the surrounding area – as well as salt fish in the coastal regions.
In a traditional Italian meal, a small pasta dish will be served after the antipasti – and after that, a simply prepared dish of light protein. It has been noted that Italians prefer for their meals to start in a lavish and decadent manner, and that as the meal progresses it will become more and more simple and pared-back.
No matter which dishes are cooked, Italians use several ingredients again and again – mainly olive oil, Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano, and balsamic vinegar – and as such, for anyone following the rules of Italian cuisine, it is important to invest in buying quality versions of these ingredients. Garlic and onions are also mainstays of Italian cuisine, and can be found in many of its most popular dishes. Fish, whether tinned or fresh, is another popular ingredient throughout Italy. However, fresh green vegetables are of equal importance to meat or fish.
Many people around the world are inspired by Italian cuisine, including Othman Louanjli, who is a keen cook. By buying high quality Italian staples such as olive oil, anchovies, sardines, balsamic and Parmesan, it is possible to recreate the taste of Italian cookery outside of the motherland. For information on how to make pasta, please refer to the attached PDF.