Traditional Italian cuisine is popular all over the world. Few people do not know the signature dishes of the state of Southern Europe. Pizza and spaghetti are served almost anywhere in the food service.

Characteristics of Italian cuisine

For the inhabitants of this state, cooking is a true art. They devote a lot of time to the preparation of gastronomic delights, observing all the subtleties.

Italian cuisine is famous all over the world.

Ingredients of Italian dishes:

  • olive oil;
  • garlic;
  • cereals;
  • seafood;
  • greenery;
  • cheese.

Key features

The most popular are dough products. In Italy, there are more than 600 types of pasta and at least 2 thousand pizza options. Each region has unique recipes and products on which the basic menu is based.

The territorial uniqueness of the republic largely influenced the formation of gastronomic culture. The dishes of the southern regions of the country are distinguished by the content of sun-dried and fresh tomatoes, olive oil, many aromatic spices and herbs. The northern part is influenced by Austrian, Hungarian and Croatian chefs. Therefore, here you can find goulash, chorba, and even Viennese sausages.

Liguria is famous for its pesto sauce, which is added to all pastas and minestrone soups.

Campania is a region of pizza. Familiar to the whole world “Margarita” is being prepared in the capital of this region – Naples.

Separately, it is necessary to highlight Piedmont, which has a common border with France. Here you can taste dishes with truffles or stewed frog legs, the recipe for which dates back to the Middle Ages.

Beneficial features

Italians are very sensitive to the choice of ingredients. Much attention is paid to the freshness of the products and the preparation process. Most often, food is stewed, boiled or baked to retain as much of the nutrients as possible.

Traditional Italian pasta is made from durum wheat to help reduce gluten and starch. Thanks to the use of al dente technology, all the main components of the food are preserved. The dish has a beneficial effect on the digestive system and enriches the body with useful elements and vitamins.

Olive oil contains phosphorus, magnesium, calcium and iron necessary for humans. It is used not only for cooking but also for cosmetic purposes.

Italian herbs:

  • oregano;
  • thyme;
  • rosemary;
  • basil;
  • marjoram;
  • sage;
  • paprika.

Each of these plants strengthens the immune system, provides the human body with useful minerals and vitamins of groups A, B, C.

Olive oil and a variety of herbs are widely used in Italian cuisine.

How did Italian cuisine develop?

The neighboring countries have had a great influence on the culture and variety of dishes. Even before the rise of the modern state, the Roman Empire was in the lead in the culinary arts.

Ancient times and Antiquity

The Greek poet Archestratus wrote the first work on cooking in the 4th century. BC. It describes the features of cooking and the properties of ingredients. Particular attention in this treatise is paid to the use of spices in Italian cuisine. This is the first mention of the geustics of a land of gastronomic delight.

The Etruscans are a civilization that inhabited the territory of Italy in the 1st millennium BC. Their main occupation was agriculture. They gathered rich crops of wheat, vegetables and grapes. From this period until now, agriculture has been one of the main components of the Italian economy. The level of culinary skills of this people was high. Even then, sauces were served with meat and spices were used for flavoring. A variety of dishes and generous treats were a priority for the inhabitants of the Apennine Peninsula.

Middle Ages

This period arises from the fusion of two opposing cultures – Romanesque and Germanic. They were also incompatible from a gastronomic point of view: the representatives of the first ideology considered grapes, olive and bread to be symbols of agricultural culture, while the latter attributed forest, hunting and cattle breeding to the main food resources.

The course of history has greatly changed the food culture of Italians. Colonization by the Arabs, during which the Islamic world excluded wine and pork from the diet as unclean foods, the invasion of the barbarians and the emergence of Christianity left a big mark in the history of the art of cooking.

Until 1000, asceticism in the diet of Catholic priests and believers remained unchanged.

It took a sufficient amount of time for the ceremonial meals to supplant the strict fasting, the diet of which consisted mainly of vegetables and bread.

New World

The discovery of this part of the world influenced the development of the culinary arts. New products and spices appeared, which quickly took root and became part of the diet. Many sailors were Italians and wanted to get exotic food and deliver it to their homeland. After the discovery of a new continent, black pepper, corn, tomatoes, sugarcane and turkey appeared on the tables of Italian gourmets.

Renaissance

At this time, the inhabitants of Italy developed the art of serving dishes. The already developed gastronomy takes on bright colors, new tastes and aromas. Gluttony turns into a measured process of eating, which is accompanied by table setting and beautiful presentation. The sequence of pickles served forms the ceremonial, and the meal becomes like a play performed in sign language.

Cooks acquire the qualities of artists, find creative approaches and compete with each other. Along with the development of painting, architecture and literature, the concept of “haute cuisine” appears.

The transition from medieval to modern Europe was largely due to the development of art, and in this era it was found in everything.

Cooking features

Nowadays, amateur knowledge alone is no longer enough even to simply understand new culinary techniques, not to mention their implementation.

Almost every Italian dish contains vegetables, lots of herbs, sauces and olive oil. In this case, the first ones do not lend themselves to frying, but are stewed or stewed. Only in the country of pasta they know perfectly well which sauce is suitable for a particular pasta, which is traditionally prepared al dente.

Recipes with her are being improved every year. Both ancient and high-tech techniques are used. Regardless of its size or shape, it will always be dry or fresh. The rest of the pastes are varieties of the first two. Fresh must be cooked within a few days, and dry can be stored for up to a year.

Many restaurants in Italy have their own vegetable garden and even a small farm. Thus, dishes from the freshest vegetables, fruits, meat, fish and milk are placed on the table.

The love of Italians for flour

Already the Romans knew how to knead flour dough with water and roll it into a wide thin plate, which was cut into layers and cooked. But the most important elements of modern pasta were formed only in the Middle Ages.

Its main types:

  • wide;
  • narrow;
  • short;
  • long;
  • perforated;
  • stuffed inside.

The Italians constantly improved recipes, came up with new technologies for preparing flour dishes. Having preserved their own traditions, customs and culture, they transferred their love to dough food.

National Italian dishes

Italian cuisine is largely determined by the differences between the regions of the country, in particular between north and south, Piedmontese and Florentine cuisine.

Ancient recipes travel from the Mediterranean to Europe, from there to Italy and further to the regions. In this regard, national dishes in certain areas may differ from each other in composition and method of serving.

Gnocchi

Pieces of flour and eggs, boiled in water, comparable to dumplings. The classic recipe uses potato dough. This type of pasta is served with mild sauces so that they don’t overwhelm the flavor of the main ingredients.

For cooking you will need:

  • 1 kg of potatoes;
  • 200 g flour;
  • 2 bunches of arugula;
  • 300 g fresh tomatoes;
  • 1 egg;
  • 1 clove of garlic;
  • 2 tbsp olive oil;
  • 1 branch of rosemary;
  • salt and black pepper to taste.

Boil the potatoes until tender and make mashed potatoes from them, arugula leaves until soft within 5 minutes. Then grind them to a creamy consistency and pour into mashed potatoes. Then send an egg, flour and a pinch of salt there. Mix everything thoroughly.

From the resulting dough, make several rolls as thick as a finger and cut them into 2 cm pieces. Fry a clove of garlic with rosemary and olive oil in a pan. Add finely chopped peeled tomatoes and black pepper, simmer for 15 minutes. Cook the gnocchi in boiling salted water until it floats. Remove with a slotted spoon, pour over tomato sauce and sprinkle with grated cheese.

Gnocchi and minestrone are popular Italian dishes.

Minestrone soup

It appeared many years ago in the diet of the poor. Fatty foods and those that were absorbed for a long time were added to this dish so that the feeling of hunger came as rarely as possible. Over time, the recipe changed: with the discovery of the New World, they began to use potatoes along with beans, fatty meat, onions and peas.

The peasants took only those products that were available, so there is no traditional recipe for the dish, there are only modified ones.

Now there are options for cooking meatless soup with vegetables or based on chicken broth.

Paste

The types of pasta multiplied as the ways of its gastronomic use expanded: it was consumed as a fresh home product and transported along the shores and inland of the European region as an industrial food.

As for the spices, from the very beginning, the national dish of Italy appears in a mandatory combination with cheese, supplemented with spices. This tradition is still applied today.

Pasta happens:

  • pure, rich in vitamins and microelements (made from whole wheat);
  • with additives of natural products (egg yolks, tomatoes, spinach, milk);
  • stuffed (the so-called “envelope” with meat, cheese, vegetables or mushrooms inside).

The hardest part of making pasta at home is slicing it. After kneading the dough, you need to divide it into pieces and roll it out on a smooth surface, and then cut it with a roller and a well-sharpened knife.

Ravioli

These are small circles of pasta, on which the filling (in most cases – meat) is placed and folded in the middle. Ravioli are similar in shape to dumplings. Knowing which variety is common in Piedmont, you can see a lot in common. Agnolotti is prepared with a hearty gravy made from ham, salted pork, blood sausage and veal.

Gelato

Ice cream or frozen Italian dessert. It is made by hand on the basis of fresh heavy cream and milk with the addition of berries, nuts, chocolate, almonds or honey. The main difference from classic ice cream is the serving temperature, which should be much higher (-13 ° C). Due to its all-natural content, gelato has a shelf life of only 3 days at -15 ° C.

Risotto

The main ingredient in this dish is rice, which was originally used by Italians to thicken liquid food. Some culinary experts believe that risotto is a way of cooking cereals. In the classic recipe, medium-grain rice is stewed in a special bowl, gradually adding broth there and constantly stirring the mass. Ingredients vary, but no dish is prepared without dry wine and hard cheese.

Lasagna

One of the oldest types of pasta. It differs from others in a denser texture. The most common way to get a tasty product is to bake it using bolognese and béchamel sauces. Both meat and vegetables are suitable as filling for lasagna.

An ancient 14th century cookbook, Liber de Coquina, explains in great detail how to cook and how to season lasagna:

  • take fermented dough, roll it out thinly;
  • divide into squares 3 fingers wide and 3 long;
  • cook in boiling water and season, alternating layers, with grated cheese and crushed spices (to taste).

Pizza

An original Italian invention, which was originally intended to satisfy the hunger of the peasants. Now this circle of dough with fillings for every taste has spread all over the world and is very popular.

The simplest and most famous pizza is “Margarita”. It is a rolled flatbread with tomatoes, basil and mozzarella.

For the preparation of the dough, fresh yeast and second-grade flour from soft wheat are used. In order for the yeast to dissolve and ferment, the added water must have a temperature of + 30 … + 32 ° C.

Arancini

Rice balls with meat, peas and mozzarella added inside. Literally, arancini translates as “little oranges”.

Stuffed lumps of boiled rice are breaded and fried in oil until golden brown and crusty.

They are perfect as a snack.

Ossobuco

Braised veal shank, the bone marrow of which gives the dish an unusual taste.

You can prepare this culinary delight at home in 3 stages:

  • fry meat on the bone;
  • prepare a special sauce with vegetables and herbs;
  • put out the shin in it.

Frittata

Mediterranean omelet with vegetables. To get an Italian breakfast, you need to pour the vegetables with beaten eggs and fry until the edges seize, while the middle should be liquid. Next, you need to bake the mixture in the oven.

Frittata is an Italian-style omelet made with meat, vegetables and cheese.

In the Neapolitan version, this dish is more satisfying, because pasta is also added to it.

Saltimbocca

These are thinly sliced ​​and pounded beef steaks that are topped with a slice of prosciutto and a sage leaf. Saltimbocca is translated from Italian as “jump into your mouth”. All ingredients are rolled, breaded and fried until golden brown. Such a small-portioned snack is suitable for decorating the table and will surprise you with its taste.

Trippa

“Saturday” food that has been cooked on this day of the week since the days of the Roman Empire. Veal offal is the main ingredient.

Trippa can be served as a soup or with a side dish.

Other interesting dishes

Lack of clarity in naming, accuracy in drafting and preparation becomes one of the main reasons for discrepancies. Even the same recipe, interpreted by culinary experts from different countries or regions of the same state, will be executed in different ways.

Tortellini in broth

Unleavened dough products stuffed with meat or vegetables. Meat tortellini is boiled in beef broth and served with it. Sprinkle the top with grated cheese and spices. Such a presentation appeared in the city of Bologna.

Tiramisu cake

This Italian dessert is known all over the world. There are many options for obtaining exquisite taste. Tiramisu consists of thin biscuits soaked in a blend of coffee, Marsala wine and rum, and a sweet mascarpone-based sauce.

Carpaccio soup

The main distinguishing feature of this tomato soup from others is the addition of ciabatta or other white bread. The dish is perfect for the diet of vegetarians due to the absence of animal products.

Caprese

It is a salad or light snack that is served in the form of chopped tomatoes and slices of mozzarella cheese, seasoned with olive oil and basil. Caprese refers to “antipasto”, i.e. to dishes that act as an introduction to the beginning of a meal.

Panini

Italian hot sandwich. Place the filling between 2 slices of bread and heat in a frying pan with olive oil. Depending on the preferences of those who like quick bites, the filling can be anything you like.