Think Italian food and what come to mind are pizzas, lip-smacking spaghetti and macaroni. Pasta, tortelli, tiramisu and Parmesan cheese ? Italian cuisine boasts of many a tantalizing appetizers, main dishes and deserts. Italian cuisine is a fair representation of Mediterranean food. There are regional variations in Italian cuisine. While Italian food recipes from the north are loaded with cream, butter and mascarpone cheese, those from the sunnier southern region use more of olive oil. Tuscan food from Italy features white beans and bread sans salt while the richer Roman food use organ meats.
The history of Italian food can be traced back to the ancient Roman and Greek culinary traditions. Abundance of tomatoes, fresh meat, fresh fruits and crisp vegetables make for a healthy, tasty and interesting meal. Legumes and grains make for a large part of the Italian diet. Golden olive oil is used in abundance. Much use is made of herbs such as crushed red pepper, fennel, garlic, oregano, rosemary, sage, basil and anise.
Fresh salads with interesting dressings also find prominent place on the Italian cuisine. Light soups such as minestrone and barley soup make for good appetizers. Salads and light soups, such as minestrone, are good appetizer selections. If you order a salad, ask for balsamic vinegar or, alternatively, ask for salad dressing on the side so you can control how much you use.
Don't miss the tasty Italian entre 'Bruschetta. It is a wonderful concoction of toasted bread topped with chopped tomatoes, garlic and basil and drizzled with olive oil. Antipasto is made of varied combination of foods such as melon or tomatoes, prosciutto (raw ham), zampone, olives and salami. Tortellini or stuffed pasta is usually eaten as main course.
Ravioili is a square-shaped version of the round tortellini. Gnocchi or dumplings served in soup or sauce base also find themselves on many an Italian meal. Popular Italian sauces that accompany meat or vegetable dishes are Alfredo, Carbonara, Marinara, Bolognese and Arrabbiatta. The Alfredo is a combination of cream, cheese and olive oil. On the other hand, the Marinara is a colorful vegetable sauce with tomatoes, onions, garlic, and olive oil.
Risotto is made with broth, flavoring ingredients, soffritto (saute vegetables) and Italian rice. Italian rice comes in many varieties, from the fine Carnaroli to the Arborio and Vialone. If you are one with a sweet tooth, you can't miss Tiramisu - a sinfully rich sponge cake oozing with rum, espresso, zabaglione and mascarpone cream. Fruits such as grapes, apricots and peaches are often served as dessert or dolce. Amaretti or almond-flavored meringues are also a popular Italian dessert option.
Italian food recipe
Heat butter and virgin olive oil in a thick-bottomed pan. Gently saute chopped onions. Add rice and saute for about 2 minutes till rice is well coated. Keep chicken broth simmering nearby. Add it little by little to keep the rice covered as it cooks. Add a bit of wine if you like. Whip up creamy risotto with saffron and Parmesan cheese. Add chopped spinach, chicken pieces, radicchio, mushrooms, salmon - all it needs is your imagination.
Italian food recipe
Lasagna with vegetables
Chopped vegetables: carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, onions
Grated Parmesan and mozzarella cheese
Cooked lasagna noodles
Salt and pepper
Chop and grill vegetables. Add chopped garlic. Make a mixture of parsley, Parmesan, Ricotta and eggs. Arrange a baking dish layered with noodles, grilled vegetable mix and grated mozzarella cheese. Add a dollop of marinara sauce. Bake for about 30 minutes.
Italian food recipe
Roast the ground beef and add salt and pepper to taste. Cook spaghetti and keep aside. Make a paste of tomatoes, onions and green pepper. Add seasoning of chili and red pepper powder. Pour over the beef and cook till completely done. Make a sauce with cheese and tomato paste and add seasoning. Fill a baking dish with spaghetti and beef and pour the sauce over it. Top it with pepperoni and more cheese. Bake till cheese is melted and golden brown.
Italian food recipe - Gnocchi
Make a mixture of all the above ingredients into dough. Roll into a thick rope and cut into 1 inch lengths. Boil in salt water. When cooked, cover the potato gnocchi with sauce and cheese. Season with nutmeg and pepper. For a variation, you can brown the gnocchi in an oven.
Recipe for Italian garlic bread
Enjoy aromatic herb and garlic bread. For garlic bread, you need a loaf of Italian bread, minced garlic, olive oil, Parmesan cheese, parsley, thyme, paprika and marjoram. Mix garlic, parsley, thyme, marjoram, cheese and paprika. Slit the bread open. Gently brush the bread with oil and sprinkle the herb mixture. Wrap in foil and cook for about 10 minutes in the oven.
Recipe for Penne Salad with Basil Vinaigrette
Dressing - chopped basil leaves, chopped garlic, virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper
Toss together all ingredients for the salad. Chill for about 2 hours. Add the dressing and serve with garlic bread.
Recipe for Italian dessert - Zabaglione
2 egg yolks
30 grams sugar
100 ml marsala
Make a mixture of egg yolk and sugar till white and creamy. Add marsala and cook in a double boiler till the mixture is fluffy and soft.
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon anise extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup oil
Beat eggs, sugar, oil and anise extract. Mix with baking powder and flour to form thick dough. Roll out the dough into cut out cookies with a cookie cutter. Bake cookies for 30 minutes.