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Italian Cooking

Learn what herbs and spices are essential for Italian cooking and try some of our irresistible Italian recipes.

Italian flagAn authentic Italian meal is a true culinary experience, an enrichment. Italians enjoy leisurely meals of many courses, with a great melding of flavors, aromas, colors and textures. And virtually every dish — seafood, pasta, breads, soups, stews, grains — is wonderfully seasoned with aromatic spices.

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Try our classic Italian recipes here.

Essential Herbs & Spices for Italian Cooking

While Italy's twenty distinct regions boast no less than twenty distinct culinary approaches, certain spices are central to most Italian fare. Here's a look at some of the Italian cook's most important spices:

Basil: Perhaps the most important spice in the Italian kitchen, basil distinctively flavors Italian minestrone, pasta sauces, salads and dressings, breads and marinades. You'll often find it alongside oregano, and it's the traditional basis for pesto.

Oregano: Although a strong spice, oregano partners well with other spices — especially basil — in Italian cuisine. You'll find it works in virtually every tomato-based dish and in a variety of sauces, soups, meat, fish, and egg dishes, pizza, and vegetable dishes (especially eggplant).

parsley leafParsley: With its fresh color and flavor, parsley is used as a garnish but also as a subtle seasoning in soup stock, meat marinades, salads and dressings, and pasta sauces. One traditional Italian pasta sauce relies upon parsley, anchovies and garlic.

Garlic: Garlic is found in most cuisines, but it's indispensable in Mediterranean dishes. Use it in sauces, stews, soups, salad dressings, pasta sauces, casseroles, breads, grains, and croutons. For convenience, it's available in flakes, granules, and powder.

Venetian Spice BlendItalian Blends: For the ease of prepared blends, try Frontier Italian Seasoning, Herbs of Italy, and Spaghetti Seasoning. Toss any with hot pasta for a quick dinner or cold pasta for a tasty side. Sprinkle on bread before grilling or making croutons, or add to soups, casseroles, or any dish you'd like to make the pièce de résistance.

more essential spices for Italian cooking...

store fresh bulbs in this garlic keeperCooking Accessories

We've got all the gadgets you'll need to start your Italian cooking extravaganza, from garlic gadgets, to a bread keeper, salad spinner, oil bottles and more.

Other Key Ingredients

Olive Oil
A staple in Mediterranean cuisine, olive oil is used for cooking, dipping crusty breads, drizzling on salads, and tossing with pasta. Touted for its health benefits, olive oils are identified according to regions in which they're produced, much like wines.

Tomatoes are the basis for innumerable Italian dishes. Dried tomato flakes are a convenient way to keep tomatoes on hand for soups, sauces, and casseroles. They have a rich taste, a bit deeper than fresh tomatoes. In fact, many recipes specify dried tomatoes for this distinct taste.

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