Using a variety of spices that come from leaves, flowers, roots, bark or seeds is very common in virtually all Italian and Mediterranean cuisine.
They serve to enhance the flavor of each ingredient, steal the spotlight, accompany the dish or truly bring out its flavor.
While most often associate herbs like basil and oregano with Italian cuisine because they are commonly used for sauces, pastas and pizzas, in reality, Italian cooking there are many different herbal varieties and preparations used to make recipes or products.
In today's post, we'll look at some of the most common herbs, spices and seasonings in Italian cuisine. Take notes!
Basilico (basil): The warm, sweet and characteristic flavor of basil is one of the essentials of Italian cuisine. It's the main ingredient in many pesto sauces, but also combines perfectly with other ingredients such as tomatoes.
Thymus (thyme): Thyme is one of garlic and lemon's best friends and is often used in soups, stews, vinegars, etc.
Rosmarino (rosemary): Thanks to its powerful but sweet flavor and aroma, rosemary is frequently used with vegetables and in vinegars and breads, etc.
Aglio (garlic): Garlic is one of the main ingredients that is found in every Italian kitchen thanks to its versatility and use in sauces, dressing, garlic bread, and many other dishes.
Salvia (sage): Sage is widely used in dressings and meats, especially in the Tuscan white bean stew known as "fagioli all'uccelletto."
Origano (oregano): Oregano is another Italian cuisine favorite and you've probably seen it used to accompany real Italian pizzas.
Pepe (pepper): The most common variety of pepper is pepe nero (black pepper), but some sauces require pepe bianco (white paper). It gives a kick of flavor and serves to enhance the taste of many recipes.
Zenzero (ginger): Ginger is a spice used in many recipes but especially used for making Christmas ginger-based shaped biscuits and breads called "pan di zenzero" or "panpepato."
Curcuma (turmeric): Tumeric is the perfect ally for seasoning chicken. It is sometimes also used for curry and rice dishes.
Paprika: Paprika is widely used in meat and sauce dishes.
Peperoncino (hot pepper): Peperoncino is the go-to seasoning for adding an extra kick of spice to many dishes, including the famous pasta "all'arrabiata."
Fionocchietto or selvatico finocchieto (fennel): Fennel is frequently used in dishes like carpaccio.
Erba cipollina (chives): As its name suggests, chives resemble onions but have a finer flavor. They are widely used in fish, tortillas and cold dishes.
Prezzemolo (parsley): Parsley gives a cool touch, so it is ideal for light summer dishes and fish sauces. It's the perfect partner to garlic.
Of course, there are many more herbs that can be used either fresh or dried, but fresh herbs always have more flavor and aroma.
There are also many preparations made from different herbal combinations that are common in Mediterranean cuisine. One example of this is what is known as an Italian condiment made from basil, thyme, rosemary, marjoram and oregano. Sometimes sage or garlic is also added.
We can also find the well-known Tuscan herbs made from sage, rosemary and garlic. There are many varieties that may also feature black pepper, fennel seeds, bay leaves, and oregano, among others.
Herbs provides many nutritional values and are very healthy. They can also help to reduce salt intake without taking away from the dish's flavor.
However, always remember: herbs only serve to accompany and improve the flavor, but should not be the protagonists in most dishes.
At Da Bruno restaurants, we use a wide selection of herbs and spices daily to enhance the flavor of our fresh ingredients.
They can be found in our sauces and dishes such as pil pil prawns, penne arrabbiatta, pesto and even our curry risotto. Come and try out our recipes to see how we take advantage of our selection of herbs!