Using what’s on hand is among the most distinguishing features of Italian cuisine. Hence the use of ingredients that are readily available from local markets as well as seasonal fruits and vegetables. But aside from these, there are just some staple supplies any Italian, Italian-American, or Italian cuisine enthusiast should always have on hand in their Italian pantry. After all, any home kitchen should be well-stocked, whether you’re cooking Italian or any other cuisine.
A must-have for any home pantry, you need this for almost any dish, traditional or not, you may want to prepare. You have to note though that there are two basic types of olive oil, pure olive oil and extra virgin olive oil. If it’s for drizzling over salads, pasta, or risotto dishes, you should use extra virgin olive oil. If it’s for sautéing or any other cooking technique that requires heat, you should use pure olive oil.
Herbs and Spices
One of the factors that makes, or breaks, a simple dish into a delightful culinary experience are herbs and spices. After all, they are not merely items on an ingredients list you have to tick off. They actually enhance the taste and flavors of your dishes. Among the herbs and spices you should always keep handy in the kitchen are basil, rosemary, oregano, thyme, garlic, onions, and pepper.
When you hear the words “Italian condiment” you’d probably automatically think of balsamic vinegar. But keep in mind that not all bottles with the label balsamic vinegars are the genuine article. To be sure you get the true balsamic vinegar, check the seals or labels. Also, check if it’s really made in the city of Modena.
Canned or Bottled Fruits/Vegetables
Sometimes, you may not have fresh tomatoes or other vegetables you need for your pasta dish. No worries, you can still make your beloved pasta or risotto dish. How? By opening up can of chunky, diced, or whole tomatoes, of course. Other canned or bottled items you may want to keep stock of are mushrooms, onions, and chili peppers.
Of course, how would you be able to whip up an antipasti board in a jiffy without some cured meats? Some of the types of salami you may want to keep at hand are pancetta, capocollo, prosciutto, and soppressata. Better yet, you can ask your local deli to recommend to you their best cured meats.
Although homemade pasta undeniably a delicious choice, there’s certainly no harm in also having dried pasta in your pantry, right? That way you can easily whip up a batch of spaghetti or cacio e pepe in just a few minutes. Besides, no self-respecting Italian, or Italian cuisine enthusiast, would be caught dead without a single type of pasta in his/her Italian pantry. Don’t you agree? After all, pasta is one of the top go-to dishes in Italian cuisine.
Italian Grains and Polenta
An Italian pantry can’t, of course, be complete without some of the basic grains from the Italian peninsula. First, you have “riso” or rice, without which you wouldn’t be able to make scrumptious risotto dishes. There are also chickpeas for pasta e ceci, and borlotti or cannellini beans for salads. And of course, you can’t be without the staple food of northern Italy, which is creamy fragrant polenta.