The holidays are here and for many, Italian spices aren’t popping into our heads. But bear with me, I’ve got some really quick points to make on why you should stock your pantry with Italian spices all year long.
In my house the holidays mean a lot of leftovers. While we enjoy reheating them, after a couple of days we tend to get a little tired of the same food. Italian spices and ingredients make quick work of completely changing the flavor. One of my favorites is to use leftover turkey and turn it into a red sauce.
Italian food is delicious and depending on what you use, it’s pretty healthy too. If you want to whip up some Italian pasta and sauces at home, you should know the favorite Italian cooking ingredients used. This way, you can experiment with the flavors and get that exact taste you are looking for.
Some Favorite Ingredients in Italian Cooking
Pasta– Oh boy, everyone seems to love pasta. While I’m not personally a huge fan it helps to really mix up the holiday meals. Pasta is great for those on a diet because it can easily make you full. Just pay attention to portions. There are different types of pasta like macaroni, spaghetti and fetuccini just to name a quick few. To go even healthier there are pastas made of squash, whole wheat and spinach too.
Olive Oil– When cooking anything Italian, you must have olive oil. This is a staple of Italian cooking. It is really an essential you cannot do without in cooking Italian delights. It adds flavor and richness to Italian dishes. It’s also a healthier oil alternative. Just remember that the flash point for olive oil is lower. This means it will break down if you try to fry in it at too high a temperature.
Garlic– One of the reasons why Italian dishes are healthy is because garlic is always used. The more garlic used in Italian dishes, the better the flavor will be. Italians prefer the garlic to be minced. Sautéing garlic in olive oil just smells divine. I think this is a staple in many ethnicities or if not it should be. lol
Basil– To bring out the best flavors of your pasta sauces, you should always have fresh basil in your kitchen. Other fresh herbs like thyme and rosemary are great in adding unique flavors to paste sauces and dishes too. Even the smallest of apartments can grow a little pot of these fresh herbs.
Tomato– Whether it is fresh, cooked or paste, tomatoes are very important in Italian cooking. Red pasta sauces are tomato-based. Tomato also adds flavor in Italian dishes, especially pizza. But it doesn’t always have to be turned into a sauce. Take some cooked pasta and toss it with sauteed vegetables including tomatoes.
Parmesan Cheese– Can you imagine eating pasta without Parmesan cheese? My son cannot. Parmesan is an essential ingredient. It is crumbly, dry, and just really perfect for pasta. If you cannot find Parmesan cheese, PiaveVecchio and Grana Padano are great substitutes.
Pesto is great for easy meal preparation as well as adding flavor to pasta. It is very easy to make. Just mix basil or spring greens with olive oil in a food processor. You can use pesto as pasta sauce, a mild filling on a sandwich or as a bread dip. I love to dip anything and we know how I feel about bread, so you can bet the latter is my favorite option.
Mascarpone– Mascarpone is a soft cheese; it is great to use as a pasta topping. Ricotta is a partner of mascarpone. Both of these ingredients are often used to cook lasagna or to fill manicotti.
There are so many options for recipes if you have these ingredients. Even the kids can make their own preferred dishes. Imagine the homemade pizza bar parties you can throw.
Never worry about what's for dinner again. I've got you covered with the meal plans in the Once a Week Cooking Club. Cook once, eat all week.
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