ITALIAN COOKING AND RECIPES

Authentic And Traditional  Italian Food Recipes

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VEGETABLES AND PULSES


Artichokes

Globe artichokes are cultivated throughout Italy and grow wild on Sicily. Naples is credited with the first cultivation and, nowadays, they are regarded as a Roman speciality, being served twice deep-fried. Tiny plants may be eaten raw with olive oil and fresh herbs. Larger artichokes are boiled and served with a dressing or stuffed.


Aubergines (Eggplants)

Originally regarded with great suspicion, aubergines (eggplants) are now integral to Italian cooking, especially in the southern part of the country. They may be cooked in a wide of variety of ways and add depth of flavour and colour to many dishes.


Beans

Haricot (navy), cannellini, borlotti, black-eyed (known as fagioli coll'occhio), broad beans,

chick peas and other pulses are eaten all over Italy, although Tuscans are renowned for being bean-eaters. They are incorporated in substantial stews and soups or may be served as a simple side dish dressed with a little olive oil.


Courgette's  (Zucchini)

Widely used in northern Italian cooking, courgettes (zucchini) combine well with many other typically Mediterranean ingredients, such as tomatoes and aubergines (eggplants). They may be served cold as an antipasto, stuffed or deep-fried. They are often sold with their flowers still attached.


Fennel

Also known as Florence fennel, this aniseed- flavoured bulb is one the most important ingredients in Italian cooking. It is served raw with a vinaigrette or with cheese at the end of a meal and may be cooked in a variety of ways, including sauteing, braising and baking.


Onions

Sweet red onions are delicious raw and add colour to cooked dishes.

White onions have a stronger flavour and yellow onions are mild-tasting. Baby white onions are traditionally cooked in a sour-sweet sauce — agrodolce — and usually served as an antipasto.


(Bell) Peppers

Capsicums or sweet (bell) peppers are invariably sun-ripened in Italy and, while they do not always have the uniform shape of greenhouse-grown (bell) peppers, they have a depth of flavour that is unsurpassed. They are served raw or roasted as an antipasto and roasted or stuffed as a hot dish. They are classically partnered with anchovies, aubergines (eggplants), capers, olives or tomatoes.


Radicchio

This bitter-tasting, red-leafed member of the chicory family is nearly always cooked in Italy, rather than being included in salads. It may be grilled (broiled) or stuffed and baked and is quite often used as a pizza topping.


Rocket

Now enjoying a rediscovered popularity in Britain and America, rocket has never lost favour in Italy, where it grows wild. It is also cultivated, but the home-grown variety has a better flavour. It is usually served in salads or on its own with a dressing of balsamic vinegar and olive oil. It is sometimes cooked like spinach, but tends to lose its pungency.


Spinach

Spinach and its close relatives Swiss chard and spinach beet are used in a wide variety of Italian dishes. Anything described as alla fiorentina is likely to contain it. Young leaves are eaten raw in salads and spinach is typically paired with ricotta in pasta and pancake fillings. It is also

classically combined with eggs, fish, chicken and veal.


Squash

A huge variety of squashes, from tiny butternuts to massive pumpkins, are used in northern Italian cooking for both savoury and sweet dishes, including soups, risottos, stuffed pasta and dessert tarts. Deep-fried pumpkin flowers in batter are also served.


Tomatoes

Many different varieties of tomatoes have been grown throughout Italy since the sixteenth century and it is difficult to imagine an Italian kitchen without them.

Plum tomatoes are probably the most familiar and they have a firm texture that is less watery than other varieties, which makes them ideal for cooking.

They may be served raw, typically partnering mozzarella cheese and fresh basil in an insalata tricolore, and are used to add both colour and flavour to a range of dishes. Italian tomatoes are always sun ripened and have a truly unmistakable flavour.

Sun-dried tomatoes have an intense flavour and are sold dry in packets or preserved in oil.

These days, commercially produced sun-dried tomatoes have, in fact, been air-dried by machine, although sometimes it is possible to obtain the genuine article. If they are to be used for cooking, they should be soaked in hot water first.


Passata

Is a pulp made from sieved tomatoes. It has a strong flavour and may be fine or coarse. It is useful for soups and sauces and can be used as substitute for fresh tomatoes in slow-cooked dishes. Tomato puree is a paste made from tomatoes which has a less intense flavour than passata.