Due to its long history, Italian cuisine has a vast variety of food. The way of cooking and the variety of food is different in each region or province in Italy. Italy is located in the Mediterranean sea and that is why Italian cuisine is included within the so-called Mediterranean gastronomy and as a Mediterranean diet, it has been declared Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.
Normally when talking about Italian cuisine, people mention and also know, pizza, pasta, risotto, or gelato. But Italian cuisine does not only consist of these four types of foods but also it reflects the aromas and the flavors of Mediterranean dishes.
Due to the culture and customs of each region, Italian cuisine has its own specific variety and with the legacy of ancient recipes left to this day. Recipes such as Polenta ( food for Roman soldiers ) or pizza Napolitana ( which is named after the city of Naples ) are among the Italian dishes, that one can still enjoy eating that in different parts of the world.
Italy has the largest variety of cheese in the world and the most famous ones are Parmigiano-Reggiano, Mozzarella di Buffalo, Grana Padano, Pecorino Romano, Mascarpone, Burrata and Gorgonzola.
Vegetables, summer vegetables and legumes in Italian food culture
Vegetables and summer vegetables are widely used in Italian cuisine. For example, spinach is used in many Italian dishes, as well as zucchini, green and red bell peppers, or tomatoes. Also plenty of legumes such as white beans, yellow beans, peas and etc.
Fruit in Italian food culture
Considering fruits, fruits that are used mostly in Italian cuisine are citrus fruits. They are used as appetizers or snacks; also they are used in many desserts.
Meat and fish in Italian food culture
There are many recipes for meals made with meat in Italian cuisine; the most famous ones are Ossobuco (bone with a hole), Florentine steak of Tuscan cuisine, or Estofado (a type of broth). Fish is caught abundantly off the coast of Italy and its islands and is widely used in Italian cuisine alongside with shrimp and oysters. River fishes such as trout or salmon are also used in many of their recipes.
With more than 1,075,000 hectares of olive groves, Italy is the second-largest exporter of olive oil in the world after Spain.
Pasta and rice
Pasta is the raw material that is used more than anything else in Italian cuisine. There are many different types of pasta that are used to prepare food. Their numbers and their names have reached more than 300 which are available in different forms and shapes, with or without egg and dry or fresh. In addition to that, we can mention stuffed pasta such as ravioli, tortellini, cannoli, and pansoti.
There are many recipes with rice; the most famous one is risotto. Risotto is the way of cooking rice with broth (meat, chicken, or vegetable). Then it can be mixed with various ingredients such as meat, chicken, fish, shrimp, oysters, or vegetables in order to have different types of risotto.
Pizza, the symbol of Italian food
Pizza can be called the most famous food in the world. It all started in Naples, Italy. And the most popular pizza is Pizza Napolitana which contains mozzarella cheese of buffalo, San Marzano tomatoes, and basil. Another one is Pizza Marinara which is seasoned with tomatoes, oregano, and garlic. Margherita Pizza is another very popular and famous type of pizza with ingredients such as tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and basil. Quattro Stagioni Pizza or four-season Pizza has olives and artichokes (as the symbol of spring), bell peppers, and salami (as the symbol of summer), tomatoes and mozzarella cheese (as the symbol of autumn) and mushrooms and eggs ( as the symbol of winter).
Names of some Italian dishes
Dishes with vegetables
Minestrone: is a soup made with vegetables and legume
Polenta: is a baked dough made from corn flour that originates from northern Italy
Frittata di verdure: Is a type of vegetable omelet
Caponata: is a sweet and sour vegetable stew from the Sicily island
Dishes with pasta
- Lasagna Bolognese
- Penne Arrabbiata
- Ravioli di ricotta e spinaci
- Spaghetti alla carbonara
- Trenette al pesto
- Risotto di nero di seppia
- Risotto ai funghi
- Risotto alla parmigiana
- Risotto alla zucca
- Risotto alle zucchine
- Risotto agli asparagi
- Risotto alla carbonara
- Panna Cotta