Almost everyone loves Italian food. However, most people aren’t familiar with what traditional Italian food really looks like. Pizza, meatballs, and fried chicken parmesan are delicious dishes found in many restaurants, but that’s not all Italian cuisine has to offer. Let’s take a closer look at 8 different types of traditional Italian food!
Risotto is an excellent example of traditional Italian food thanks to its versatility. Risotto can be eaten alone or served with your choice of protein and vegetables. When cooked properly, risotto is rich and creamy, even without adding cheese.
The key is to use a flavorful stock to prepare your dish. Make sure your stock is nice and hot as you mix it into the dish. If you’re not sure when to stop cooking the rice, look for it to transform into a mushy consistency. The rice should have a firm bite similar to al dente pasta. If you can mold your risotto into a shape, it’s likely overcooked.
Espresso is one of the more common examples of traditional Italian food that everyone can enjoy. Espresso is coffee in a super concentrated form. Espresso machines use pressure and hot water to pull as much caffeine as possible out of your coffee beans.
Italians are known for capping off an enjoyable meal with a strong shot of espresso. Although the serving may be small, you’re meant to slowly sip and enjoy the experience of drinking your espresso. Try using espresso to kick start your day or as a way to add more power to your morning coffee.
Bruschetta is another common traditional Italian food that’s not only delicious but also easy to make. Bruschetta recipes are flexible to your preferences as you can decide which toppings you want to add. Traditionally, bruschetta is served on toasted bread with olive oil, garlic, fresh basil leaves, and chopped tomatoes. For the best tasting bruschetta, use the freshest tomatoes you can find.
The main difference between crostini and bruschetta is the type of bread used. Crostini is usually made from a white bread baguette or other types of fine, textured bread. In contrast, traditional bruschetta is made with thick slices of sourdough or rustic Italian bread.
No traditional Italian meal is complete without wine. The soil and climate in Italy are perfect for growing grapes, which is why the wine-making culture in Italy has existed for centuries. Dry white wines & rosés are usually served with chicken, pasta and fish dishes.
You’ll find rich red wines served with roasted or grilled red meat. Normally, red wines are reserved for the evening. Wine is also a “secret” ingredient for many classic Italian recipes. Adding a generous splash of red wine to pasta sauce, braised ribs, or even pasta will help you add an authentic Italian flare to your food.
Caponata is a classic Sicilian dish that features eggplant. In essence, caponata is a cooked vegetable salad with fried eggplant, celery, and capers. Caponata is finished off with a sweet and sour sauce that’s made with sweetened vinegar.
If you travel to Italy, you’ll find all types of caponata depending on the region. Some people like to add octopus while others like to add more veggies like olives, carrots and green bell peppers. Some versions of caponata even feature pine nuts and raisins. Typically caponata is served as a side dish or appetizer, but in the past, it was considered a main course dish.
6. Pasta Alla Norma
Pasta alla norma is another classic and popular Italian dish. Traditionally, this dish is made with fresh tomatoes, fried eggplant, and ricotta cheese. As far as traditional Italian dishes go, pasta alla norma is probably as close as it gets to American versions of spaghetti and tomato sauce. Having quality ricotta cheese is an important part of any quality pasta alla norma dish.
Look for a salty, aged version of ricotta for this dish. Traditionally the eggplant is fried, but you always have the option of choosing to bake the eggplant.
7. Caprese Salad
Caprese salads are a traditional Italian salad usually served during hot weather. This salad is served cold with fresh tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and sweet basil. Usually, a bit of sea salt and olive oil is added for taste. You’ll often find Caprese salad served alongside antipasto.
8. Antipasto Platter
Anytime you have a lot of people to feed; an antipasto platter is a quick and delicious option you can use to feed your guests. Antipasto is a traditional first course served during formal Italian meals. These platters feature quality cured meats, mushrooms, artichoke hearts, cheese, and peperoncini.
There’s a lot of debate about what consists a “true” antipasto platter. Even when you go to Italy, you’ll find the ingredients on the platter vary region by region. Customizing your platter to your own preferences will create the best experience.