If you are thinking of trying authentic Italian cooking at home, you need to know the common ingredients used in it. These are very important because the ingredients themselves are the main focus of Italian meals. This type of cuisine goes easy on the spices and the preparation. Instead, the aim is to bring out the flavors inherent in the main ingredients themselves. So try to get good quality ingredients.

Another point to remember while shopping for ingredients for Italian meals is that all ingredients must be fresh. Traditionally, Italian cuisine depends on seasonal vegetables. So, fresh produce is important...very important.


This is probably the most widely used ingredient in Italian cooking. Mostly made from wheat, pasta comes in different shapes and sizes. Wheat high in gluten content is used to make pasta. Sometimes semolina is also used though traditionally it was made from potatoes.

Pasta can be of different shapes and sizes and used for different purposes:

Long shaped pasta includes the following:

  • Spaghetti which is circular and plain.
  • Bucatini, Zitoni etc which has a hole in the center.
  • Fettuccine which is rectangular
  • Ricciutelle contains undulations.

Short shaped pasta are

  • Penne with a tube like shape
  • Twisted in shape
  • Shell like in shape (gnocchi)
  • Other special shapes

Pasta can be filled with various types of fillings. Flavored pasta is also used in Italian cooking. If you plan to use a layer of pasta in baking a dish, then you should use sheets of pasta. Pasta can be brought packaged or made fresh at home. Authentic Italian cooking obviously calls for home made fresh pasta.


This is another important and widely used ingredient in Italian cooking. It is a small and somewhat pungent sea fish and is often used in conjunction with pasta and other vegetables. They burn easily so must be handled carefully.


This is a form of bacon. Both the smoked and the unsmoked varieties are used in Italian cooking. It is used in pasta sauces. Guanciale is another form of bacon used in this cuisine.

Balsamic vinegar

This one ingredient is sometimes enough to bestow authenticity on your Italian cooking. It is made from some special type of grape. It has a unique alcohol content which gives it a special flavor. Chefs have used this characteristic since the middle ages to make great dishes.


This small leafy herb is the base of pesto. Fresh basil is used in a wide variety of salads, soups and sauces because of its spicy aroma.


These are small hot red chilies with a fiery taste. It is used to flavor many sauces and in seafood.


The main ingredient of the famous Alfredo sauce, this is a type of heavy cream used in Italian cooking.


This is widely used to flavor roasts and sauces. It needs to be lightly cooked.


One of the few spices used in Italian cooking is nutmeg. It is indispensable while making ravioli and is also used in some stews.

Olive oil

This is the medium of all Italian cooking. As the name suggests, it is derived from olive. Virgin olive oil is derived from olives by mechanical process only while if it contains less than 1% acidity, it is called extra virgin oil.

Posted by Aqar

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