If you are a living, breathing human who loves food (yes, that means everyone), chances are Italian dishes rank high on your list of favorites. Pizza, pasta, bread, dried meats, cheese…those words probably leave you hoofing it to your nearest Italian restaurant and ordering absolutely everything. Seriously, same.
And while the idea of jumbling together your go-to Italian dinners seems like something you’d rather not do, it’s easier than you think. All you need are the right ingredients on hand and you’ll be making everything from bolognese to eggplant parm to cacio e pepe. Another bonus: you can find all of the ingredients in your run of the mill grocery store, no extensive searching necessary. Okay, now make us a pizza.
Fresh Tomatoes/ Canned Tomatoes
Tomatoes are ingrained in the culture and cuisine of the entire Mediterranean, but especially in Italy’s. They are a must for making sauces (think Pomodoro), putting together a quick appetizer (hello, bruschetta), and of course, as the pizza ingredient that brings flavors together.
This sweet, aromatic herb is a staple for topping pastas, pizzas, and salads. It’ll add a bright, fresh note to any and all dishes.
Limoncello aside, both lemon juice and zest are essential for Italian dressings, marinades, desserts, and sauces. So basically everything. You can also squeeze a little over fresh seafood, if you love citrus. Most common in the Amalfi coast and Sorrento (due to climate), you should always have a few lemons ready to go.
While you may not use Prosciutto or Bresaola every day, you don’t have a true Italian kitchen unless you’ve got a solid selection of salumi on hand.
This super flavorful aged hard cheese (often grated) adds a nutty flavor and granular texture to Italian dishes. It’s also delicious enjoyed plain.
Ricotta and Mozzarella
Separate from Parmesan (a hard cheese), ricotta and mozzarella are definite mainstays in Italian cuisine. You’ll need these two softer options for pizza, ravioli, various salads, and certain classic desserts like ricotta cheesecake. Like Parm, you can also enjoy these cheeses straight up.
An indispensable ingredient in Italian cuisine, garlic will add wonderful flavor to almost any dish. It can be used raw, sautéed, or cooked for a long time in stews, where it becomes sweet and mild. Garlic is also used as a preservative and flavoring in many cured meats.
Red Pepper Flakes
Red pepper flakes will add a little heat to both pasta and pizza. A little spice is never a bad thing!
A small but mighty ingredient, anchovies add a subtle umami, salty flavor to many dishes. If you’ve typically avoided this little fish, we encourage you to give it a second chance—your favorite Puttanesca sauce boasts quite a few.
Used in marinades, dressings, and fruitier desserts, balsamic vinegar is darker, thicker, sweeter, and more complex than red or white wine vinegar. Best reserved for undiluted uses, drizzle balsamic over fruit or vegetables for an extra delicious flavor.
You’ll use this delicious oil to sear, fry, and sauté, but also for drizzling, dipping bread, Good thing is, you probably already have this one hand.
A combination of flour, water, and salt, pasta is an obvious necessity, serving as the basis of many Italian dishes. If you’re wondering what types to buy first, go with a simple spaghetti, orecchiette, or farfalle.
Double Zero Flour
For all your homemade bread and pasta dreams, this is your secret weapon. Categorized “00” due to its super-fine ground, you’ll find a difference in texture—that perfect bite, not too chewy, and super tender.
This everyday ingredient is essential when preparing any breaded protein (you know the dredge and drip), meatballs, pasta dough, certain creamy sauces, and of course, dessert.
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