I got you my friend! If you've started reading this post, this means you're seriously obsessed with Italian cuisine. And I can't blame you! Italian food is amazing! Today, I want to tell you about a few basic ingredients. If you have them in your pantry, you can whip up any Italian recipe in a blink of an eye.
11 Absolutely Must-Have Italian Pantry Staples
I'm a simple girl. Just like you I love to cook. And just like yours, my days are anything but laid back. When I'm not cooking recipes for my blog, you can often find me making something really simple for lunch of dinner.
And when I'm tired and don't know what to cook, I always refer to pasta dishes. If we have tomato sauce, dinner is ready. If we have a Parmesan cheese to sprinkle on top, there's no a better meal.
You see a common feature here? My idea of simple recipes always fall into Italian cooking category. Why? Because most Italian recipes are ridiculously simple and even more ridiculously delicious.
And to make sure these easy Italian recipes are always available to me, there are several ingredients that I always keep in my pantry. And I know you're busy too. That's why I made this post specifically for you. So next time you go grocery shopping, don't forget to add the following ingredients to your list. That way you'll never be short of ingredients for easy Italian recipes.
AnchoviesPlease tell me my friend, that you love anchovies. Because if not, we'll need to have a serious talk. These nutrient packed little fishes are absolutely essential for adding a flavorful punch to the simplest dishes. I adore anchovies and they work great in pasta sauces or in risotto. You can even toss mash them into a salad dressing. One of my favorite ways to incorporate anchovies is in the pasta sauce. Makes sure to check my Linguine With Green Olive Sauce, Capers and Anchovies recipe. It's seriously one of the best recipes I've ever tried.
Oh man, would would we do without pasta? Cut to any fancy shape you can imagine, this Italian ingredient has already become a staple in any household. For making your recipes a little more decadent, stock up on different pasta shapes. My favorite types - Orecchiette, Linguine as well more widely used Penne pasta. I also recommend you try new types of pasta - so called protein pasta, made with legumes. It's a perfect choice for vegan and gluten-free eaters and this type of pasta is packed with healthy stuff.
If you love dill pickles, then you'll absolutely love capers. These tiny savory buds add a piquant and salty note to your recipes. I love adding them into the salads or sauces, like in my Seared Cod With Tomato Caper Sauce.
On of my favorite ways to use capers is to fry them. Frying will make them nice and crisp and perfect for appetizer toppings. They will taste like tiny little chips and who doesn't love chips?;)
Fruity and a little tart, balsamic vinegar has such a versatile use. Think salad dressings, glaze for meat and fish, drizzle over your favorite appetizers. Try my Easy Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic Vinaigrette.
Quality breadcrumbs are another key ingredient in Italian cooking. Italians love using Italian style breadcrumbs. These breadcrumbs contain all kinds of dry herbs and spices. They work best for dredging meat and always provide an additional flavor and crispy finish to your recipes.
Of course, no Italian meal is complete without the addition of fresh basil. It has quite a strong peppery and sweet aroma and is capable to turn any plain recipe into a burst-of-flavor delight. For a recipe beyond classic pesto, try my Stovetop Grilled Vegetable Panini. They are loaded with vegetables, melty cheese and and incredible flavor.
Tomatoes or good tomato sauce can make wonders for your recipes. Looking for a simplest dinner recipe ever? Make spaghetti with tomato sauce and a sprinkling of Parmigiano-Reggiano. It doesn't get any easier than this. If you're on a mission to make the best homemade tomato sauce, I recommend choosing the ripest in-season tomatoes. If possible, buy heirloom tomatoes. They are sure to turn your tomato sauce into a flavorful goodness. Heirloom tomatoes usually look imperfect, each has a different size. But they are the most aromatic and meaty types that I've ever seen. Once you try them, you'll be hooked.
Black or green olives, it doesn't matter as long as you have them in your pantry. Depending on the type, olives can be quite salty, at the same time earthy and slightly oily. I absolutely adore olives and always keep a jar of them in my pantry. My favorite type - Kalamata Olives. They are not as salty as other types which makes them very versatile and perfect for any recipe.
Probably the most essential ingredient of Italian recipes, Olive Oil is used to for frying, baking, marinating as well as dressing salads. Search for the quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil, it has the most flavor. Here are some good tips to help you choose the best olive oil for your cooking.
You can certainly have any type of rice in your pantry, but when it comes to creamy risotto dishes, Arborio rice is absolutely irreplaceable. In comparison to Jasmine or Basmati rice, Arborio has a high starch content which contributes to an extra creaminess of risotto. When I'm short on time or don't know what to cook for dinner, I always refer to risotto recipes. Most of the time, they can be made entirely in one pan and in no time. My family and guests love risotto. Try my One Pot Chicken Risotto. It's so easy and so good.
The king of hard cheeses, Parmigiano-Reggiano takes its special place in Italian cooking. Rich, sharp and intense flavor with a granular texture make Parmigiano-Reggiano an inevitable part of any recipe.
In the United States, it is very common to find Parmesan cheese that is believed to have the same properties as Parmigiano-Reggiano. But in most cases, Parmesan is considered any hard aged cow's cheese that is good for grating. You can easily spot the difference between Parmigiano-Reggiano and Parmesan cheese. The latter usually costs less and doesn't have a signature stamped rind.
Now, that I opened my cards, hurry up to stock up your pantry and I'm curious to know what is the most common ingredient you use in Italian recipes?
I'd love to connect with you on social media. Follow me on:
Iryna Bychkiv is the founder and writer of the culinary website Lavender & Macarons, where she shares clean, European-inspired recipes that are delicious, easy to prepare, and made with wholesome ingredients. Iryna loves creating meals that are simple yet healthy and unique, including vegan and vegetarian recipes.
Iryna is also a freelance writer for MSN and Associated Press Wire.