6 Tips for Better, Authentic Italian Cooking
Cooking proper Italian cuisine is an art form. Anyone who has had the pleasure of traveling to Italy and enjoyed the incredible food knows that the Americanized versions of Italian dishes just aren’t the same.
If you’ve been experimenting with Italian cooking, there are several ways to elevate your dishes and make them more authentic and delicious. Here are six tips for better, Italian cooking that tastes like the real thing.
Choose Quality Ingredients
The most important aspect of any proper Italian dish is quality ingredients. The pace in Italy is a lot slower and more relaxed than the Western “fast food” mentality. Grocery shopping is an experience in which you use all of your senses to find the best quality ingredients.
Fresh produce and herbs are a must for cooking authentic Italian cuisine. If possible, skip the big box grocery stores and head to a local farmer’s market. Take some time to understand what to look for and how to test produce to determine the quality. For example, a tomato should be free of blemishes and feel full and heavy when squeezed. There should be a crisp aroma near the stem to indicate freshness.
You can purchase high-quality olive oils, pasta, and pantry goods from an authentic Italian market online (click here to learn more). Stocking your pantry with high-quality dry goods will ensure you have whatever you need on hand to cook a delicious Italian meal.
Embrace Cucina Povera
In rural Italy, there’s a concept known as cucina povera, a.k.a, peasant cooking. The idea is to take a frugal approach to your cooking for a more sustainable practice. When you embrace the concept of cucina povera, you’re agreeing to use all of the food and leftovers to prevent waste and taking a less-is-more approach with seasoning.
Consider using stems and skins to make your own soup stock for your next batch of risotto or minestrone. Harvest seeds and grow your own herbs or tomatoes to save on supplies. The pasta dishes that are heavy on the sauce and cheese aren’t an authentic representation of Italian cooking. Use these ingredients sparingly, using fresh herbs to highlight the flavor profile.
Perfect Your Pasta Cooking Skills
Cooking pasta is seemingly one of the most basic kitchen skills. However, there’s a difference between being able to cook pasta and cooking perfect pasta.
The first trick to cooking the perfect batch of pasta is to season the water with plenty of salt. Wait until the water reaches a rolling boil before adding the pasta. Alter the cooking time so that the pasta is al dente, meaning it still has a bit of firmness. Finally, don’t add oil or rinse your pasta after cooking and straining; the starch helps the sauce stick to the noodles.
Make the Basics from Scratch
When you start with Italian cooking, learn to make the basics from scratch and build your skills as you go. Never underestimate the value of being able to make a simple risotto or marinara sauce. The more foundational ingredients you can make from scratch, the better chef you’ll become.
Take Time To Understand Flavor Profiles
It’s important to understand that not all ingredients are interchangeable. Different onions offer various flavor profiles that enhance a dish in a specific way. Additionally, not all olive oil and balsamic vinegar options are the same.
Take some time to read up on ingredient variations to determine when one type would be preferable to another for specific dishes.
Invest in Proper Cookware
Finally, leave the modern kitchen innovations behind when cooking Italian food. Non-stick pots and pans just don’t have the same effect when cooking Italian dishes. Opt for high-quality stainless steel cookware instead.
With these simple hacks, you can create delicious, authentic Italian cuisine at home. Buon appetito!