Ingredients of a Traditional Italian Kitchen

One of the most beloved cuisines worldwide is, without a doubt, Italian cuisine. Full of typical Italian flavors, it brings joy to anyone who tries it. The recipes are simple, the traditional Italian ingredients are fresh, and the taste is remarkable.   

To make food like an Italian, you need to cook from the heart, mix with a lot of love, and have a few staple Italian kitchen items. The products you buy should be fresh and local, spices should be simple, and everything else high-quality.   

If you want to know the typical Italian food ingredients and what you need to have in your kitchen to prepare tasty meals, you should stick a little longer.   

The Essential Italian Ingredients   

Italian flavors are complex, but the ingredients are simple. And the simplest ingredients you can find are:   

  • Oil   
  • Garlic   
  • Salt   
  • Pepper   

These are also the ingredients you’ll find in every traditional Italian kitchen. 

You can’t start preparing a meal without proper and high-quality extra virgin olive oil. Garlic is used in almost every recipe, and it needs to be used fresh. Please forget about garlic powder. Salt is crucial for the pasta water; you know that the pasta water needs to be salty as the seawater. It doesn’t have to be high-quality, but you should use kosher salt for other uses. And finally, pepper should be used freshly grounded in meals and as a finishing touch.   

In recipes from the Northern parts of Italy, unsalted butter is often used as an alternative to olive oil, so you should always have a stick of butter or two in your fridge, just in case.   

Fresh Italian Ingredients   

Typical Italian flavor is achieved by using fresh Italian ingredients. And to come as close as possible to reproducing those flavors, you should focus on using fresh and locally sourced ingredients.   

Italian food ingredients that you can’t cook without are:   

  • Tomatoes   
  • Wild mushrooms   
  • Fresh herbs   

Tomatoes are a staple ingredient in this cuisine, and many dishes that you now know and love wouldn’t be the same without tomatoes. Using fresh tomatoes in the season is vital because you can’t compare the taste to those off-season ones. Buy them from your local market, and skip the supermarket ones. If you want to prepare Pomodoro pasta off-season, you can use canned tomatoes, but be sure to use a high-quality brand. There are many recipes and variations of pasta with tomato sauce, and it’s because a natural tomato is sweet, juicy, and flavourful.   

Wild mushrooms are best used during their season, from April to November. However, you can always dry some wild mushrooms and use them all year round. They are used in pasta, risottos, and different kinds of stocks. Wild mushrooms are rich in flavor and a great addition to any meal. You have to try chanterelle and porcini mushrooms to achieve the authentic Italian flavors in your dishes.   

Fresh herbs are a must in every kitchen, and they make every dish taste even better. They are used for cooking and finishing touches. Fresh herbs round up every flavor and bring freshness to every dish. The staple fresh herbs used as traditional Italian ingredients are parsley, basil, oregano, rosemary, and sage. You can use fresh parsley in every recipe and every sauce. Basil is also incredible in pasta dishes and salads and on pizza. The aroma of oregano is desirable in almost every dish from the south of Italy and Sicily, and you should use dried oregano because it’s more flavorful. Rosemary is perfectly combined with meat and roasted vegetables. And the almighty sage is best friends with butter, and it goes perfect with pasta dishes, especially gnocchi, for an authentic Italian flavor.  

Must-Have Italian Kitchen Items  

You need to have some Italian kitchen items to channel the Italian cooking gods. We don’t talk about these items enough when mentioning the Italian kitchen. But we should, because they may not be as popular as others, they are essential.  

Traditional Italian kitchen must have these items:  

  • Wine  
  • Anchovies  
  • Capers  

Wine is great for drinking, and Italians enjoy their wine, but they also cook with it. Next time you pour yourself a glass, pour one into your dinner too. Both red and white wines are used in many dishes, and which one you’ll use depends on the rest of your Italian ingredients. In some regions of Italy, red wine is used instead of tomato sauce.  

You should always have a tin of these aromatic salty preserved fish in your pantry to give a unique aroma to your meals. Anchovies are among secret traditional Italian ingredients, and they will level up your sauces.  

Just like anchovies’ capers are a must in this cuisine. They are used in many salads but also many creamy pasta dishes. Grab a jar of capers on your next supermarket run; you won’t regret it.   

The Fermented Goodies  

Yes, Italy is best known for its pasta and pizza. And those staple dishes wouldn’t be so popular and tasty without these two staple Italian food ingredients:  

  • Cheese  
  • Cured meats  

One of the critical components you need to have is cheese. There are so many different types of cheese available, and Parmigiano Reggiano DOP, Mozzarella di Bufala, and Ricotta are the most traditional Italian ingredients. Parmigiano can be used on everything, in sauces, or as a finishing touch. If you want to make a juicy and tasty pizza, you need Mozzarella di Bufala, but you can also use it in lasagna, sandwiches, or salads. And ricotta is so versatile that you can use it in savory and sweet dishes.   

Cured meats are a big part of Italian tradition and can be eaten alone, in pasta, sandwiches, or on a pizza. They are must-on charcuterie boards and great as party appetizers. Salty prosciutto, spicy soppressata, fatty guanciale, and light pancetta are just a tip of an iceberg of Italian cured meats. And yes, every region has its version of staple cured meats, so you should try and see what you like the most.   

The Holy Trinity of Italian Cuisine  

When it comes to Italian staples, you’ll have to agree with us that these are essential and a must in a traditional Italian kitchen:  

  • Pasta  
  • Rice  
  • Bread  

When we think about Italy, we think about pasta; it’s that simple. So many shapes, so many varieties, and colors. Fresh or dry, it doesn’t matter as long as it is made from high-quality durum-wheat flour. It can be made with fresh eggs or without them. You would want to have a few different shapes of pasta in your pantry so that you can always prepare whatever pasta recipe you want.   

Italy is also famous for its risotto. This rich and creamy dish is the epitome of comfort food, and you couldn’t make it without rice. For a great risotto, you’ll need Arborio rice.   

Perhaps bread is not the first thing that pops into your mind when you think about Italian cuisine, but it’s there. Bread is always on the table, it’s used for sandwiches, it’s eaten with soups, and there are also recipes focused entirely on using stale bread and making new, delicious meals out of it. Like with cured meats, every region in Italy has its type of bread, so you better try as many as you can. 

And if you are in Miami and want to feel the real taste of Italy, be sure to call us and book a reservation at Mi’talia. We can promise you an outstanding and excellent experience of Italian cuisine with our unique twist.