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Italian Cooking Basics For Amateur Chefs

Italian Cooking Basics for Amateur Chefs

If you’re considering moving to Italy from America, you surely know how incredible the food is. This is not Olive Garden fare, so you may want to get some Italian cooking basics under your belt. From a simple pizza to a hearty lasagna, there is so much to enjoy from Italian food.

One of the greatest enjoyments for those who hold dual Italian citizenship is the chance to enjoy incredible food. If you’re wondering about how to start this process, reach out to Get Italian Citizenship today. Our team will walk with you step by step so that you can fully participate in Italian life.

Are You Ready to Learn How to Cook in Italy?

There is no way to learn Italian cooking in one article or even one cookbook, but you can pick up some essential tips to get started. With a few crucial Italian cooking basics, you will enjoy confidence in your Italian kitchen.

One of the most critical habits to develop is choosing excellent ingredients, especially produce. Most Italian cuisine relies on just a few ingredients, and that means they have to be top-notch. Each component in a meal stands out, and if it is inferior quality, you will know.

With simple techniques and minimal ingredient lists, Italian cooking demands excellent products. Take the time to shop at local produce markets or farmer’s stands in your area to find fruits and vegetables that taste amazing. This one habit can make or break your culinary attempts.

Top Italian Cooking Basics to Get Started

Most people immediately think of pizza and pasta when it comes to Italian food, and these are both traditional foods in Italy. But many other dishes are part of daily life there, as well, so let’s dive in and look at four starters you should investigate when you want to learn Italian cooking.

1. Tomato Sauce

Unfortunately, most Americans grew up with canned tomato sauce from the grocery store. And to get fancy, perhaps they’d choose a jar of sauce rather than a can. 

Sorry to tell you, but that isn’t Italian tomato sauce. If you’re moving to Italy from America, get ready for a whole different saucy experience.

Interestingly, tomatoes are not native to Italy. They only arrived there from America in the 15th century. Yet somehow, tomatoes are now a hallmark of Italian cooking. So it’s critical to learn how to make a good tomato sauce.

From slow-cooked and hearty to quick and fresh, each Italian cook has a go-to method. One simple, tried-and-true way to cook a delicious tomato sauce involves whole tomatoes, garlic, and butter. If tomatoes are not in season, use a high-quality canned option rather than flavorless supermarket produce.

Squishing the tomatoes by hand gives you a feel for the old world as you craft your sauce. You won’t believe how delicious the final result is with just a few ingredients.

2. Peasant Cooking

Much of Italian cooking utilizes whatever is on hand. Cucina povera means “poor kitchen,” and it hearkens back to the day when people had a pot of soup going over the fire, cooking whatever they could glean from the fields.

If you want to learn how to cook in Italy, you need to get comfortable with making an impromptu soup. A basic minestrone is the perfect starting point for this warming meal. If all you knew growing up was the Campbell’s soup version, then you’re in for a treat.

The beauty of this dish is that you don’t need to follow a strict recipe. Because there is no perfect recipe. Every region and every season dictates what goes into the soup. Whatever vegetables or beans are available can make an appearance.

In general, your minestrone will have the following key components, and then you can add anything else you like:

  • Beans – Green, kidney, or white beans are great choices.
  • Tomatoes
  • Onions
  • Carrots
  • Small Pasta – Ditalini is a perfect option.

Once you get the hang of it, you can change and adapt your minestrone to use what you have without needing to make a run to the store. That is what makes peasant cooking so attractive, affordable, and nourishing.

3. Get a Mortar and Pestle

Americans love their kitchen gadgets. From hand blenders to food processors, we are always searching for something to make our cooking faster and easier. In fact, kitchen gadgets command more than $1 billion in sales each year.

For your Italian cooking basics, however, you need to go back to the stone age – sort of. A mortar and pestle is the way to go for crushing herbs and other aromatics for your sauces and toppings. This ancient tool works differently than bladed mixers and is ideal for getting the best flavors and aromas when learning how to cook in Italy.

4. Pasta

And here we are at the quintessential Italian food. Let’s be honest. Excellent Italian pasta is a good enough reason to move to Italy and enjoy all the benefits of citizenship there. 

Learning to make homemade pasta is its own journey and one that you will probably want to take at some point in your life. But for now, we’ll focus on how to cook the pasta correctly.

The classic aglio e olio, “garlic and oil,” is the first sauce you should master if you want to learn how to cook in Italy. This straightforward pasta dish is deceptively simple. Although the ingredients are minimal, there are some skills required to create this delicious pasta.

Start with high-quality ingredients:

  • Spaghetti
  • Garlic
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Salt
  • Peperoncino – You can substitute crushed red pepper flakes if you cannot find Italian peperoncino.

For the most authentic flavor, salt the water before adding pasta. This is a must-learn step in Italian cooking basics. The amount of salt is up to your taste buds, but about one tablespoon per liter is usually enough. And when draining the spaghetti, most Italian cooks reserve some of the starchy water to use in emulsifying the garlic and oil sauce.

If you master this incredibly satisfying dish, you will feel right at home on the Mediterranean, ready to entertain friends on your terrazza. 

Let Us Help You Prepare to Live in Italy

Once you secure Italian dual citizenship, a wide range of advantages is open to you, including access to delicious Italian dishes. The process can feel complicated at times, but the experts at Get Italian Citizenship have you covered. 

From research to translation to application, we walk you through the journey with ease. And when all is said and done, you will have a new world to enjoy as an Italian national. Let’s get started today.  

Author: Get Italian Citizenship

Get Italian Citizenship, Inc. is a consulting company offering Italian heritage services worldwide.

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