Introducing you to the basics of some popular Italian food. You can thank me by eating well. 🙂
This soup forms one of the cornerstones of Italian cuisine, though in India, it is still not as popular as pasta or pizza. This is a very seasonal soup and hence, use of veggies that are in season is encouraged. Chicken stock is often used, but even then, this is one dish that places its focus on vegetables. Generally, different types of beans, tomatoes, onions and carrots go into cooking this ‘big soup’, as Italians popularly refer to it. It’s fairly easy to rustle up and one can make use of absolutely any vegetables desired.
Pronounced las-aa-nia, this Italian dish is sinfully loaded with cheese, and is guaranteed to have you lusting for more. It is an exquisite baked dish that has layers of sheets of pasta, cheese and a filling between them. Ricotta, parmesan or mozzarella, or a combination of all three cheeses can be used. Again, the filling, which usually consists of meat, can differ a little. But since we have vegetarian options for all dishes inIndia(even sushi!), fillings of spinach, bell peppers, and mixed vegetable aren’t rare. If you’re an enthusiastic home cook, try making lasagna with all the vegetables lying in your fridge, leftovers included!
Risotto is to Italians what curd-rice is to south Indians. The choice of rice makes all the difference here and sets apart Risotto from other rice dishes. Arborio or Carnaroli rice is to be used, not Basmati. Risotto follows a mostly mixed recipe with a few variations. Onions, butter, white or red wine, meat or vegetables, stock, and a variety of cheeses are used. It is not a dish that can be mastered easily. Indians will like Risotto because of our familiarity to rice dishes. Though not typically a main dish, it can suffice if had with a salad on the side.
Confused between macaroni, penne and fusilli? They are just different shaped pasta made from the same ingredient – refined wheat flour (maida). Then there is spaghetti, that looks like noodles but is actually a pasta. There can be innumerable combinations and pairings when it comes to pasta, since they lend themselves well to varied sauces and vegetables. Tomato sauce and white sauce are the ones most commonly used inIndia. Go for the white if you like cheese and cream, and tomato if you like tangy flavours. The pasta is a pretty versatile food, which leads to chefs experimenting with different shapes and sizes. Do not shy away from trying pasta with uncommon ingredients such as zucchini, pine nuts, or bell peppers.
Undoubtedly, Tiramisu is the most famous Italian desert. And not without good reason! This heavenly cake has layers of coffee-soaked sponge cakes called Ladyfinger (Thankfully nowhere close to the vegetable), cream of whipped eggs, mascarpone (a very thick Italian cheese) and a topping of chocolate. Tiramisu with some form of liquor in them are not uncommon. Though eggs are an integral part of the traditional way of making Tiramisu, eggless Tiramisu cakes are also possible. Variations for this dessert are endless, find the combination you love! Tiramisu in Italian literally means ‘pick me up’. Do you need any more invitation?
By the way, this is an article I wrote for Scribido Magazine – an e-mag for th youth, by the youth.