Top Five Italian Dishes
Top Five Italian Dishes
When it comes to Italian cuisine, it’s impossible not to immediately think of large bowls of pasta, or perfectly made pizza. However, there is so much more to traditional Italian cooking than these two staples. Here we list our favourite top 5 dishes so you know what to look out for.
#1 Pasta alla Carbonara
The carbonara dish was originally created in the middle of the 20th century, and originated from Lazio (the area around Rome). Whilst many may associate the dish with containing cream, milk, garlic and onions (in an Americanised version of the original classic), these are not the ingredients authentic Italian cooking relies on.
Instead, a genuine carbonara will contain guanciale (pig cheek), eggs, pecorino cheese and lots of black pepper. In fact, “carbonaro” is Italian for coal miner – so the more pepper, the better. This is gloriously creamy, simple dish that packs lots of punch when it comes to flavour.
#2 Margherita Pizza
Pizza has been around for over 200 years, and is a staple of menus throughout Italy, with a myriad of different flavour and topping combinations to suit all taste buds. However, one of the classic dishes is the humble Margherita, which has an interesting (if not entirely proven) history.
The story goes that Raffaele Esposito, a baker, produced three different pizzas for King Umberto I’s visit to Italy in 1889. The Queen, Margherita of Savoy, was immediately impressed by a colourful pizza which invoked the colours of the Italian flag: green through the use of basil leaves, white from the mozzarella and red from the juicy tomatoes. In honour of the Queen, Esposito named the dish after her.
If you’ve never heard of them before, arancini are stuffed rice balls, that are coated in crunchy breadcrumbs and fried. The end result are gorgeous crisp and golden brown balls of pure heaven.
In the same way that pasta and pizza have developed over the years to include a wide variety of different flavourings and combinations, so have arancini. Traditionally, they are filled with ragu, tomato sauce, mozzarella and peas but each region within Italy will have their own specialities and even shapes to tempt the tastebuds.
Another classic savoury dish with a variety of alternatives, saltimbocca contains thin slices of veal, topped with prosciutto and herb leaves. The dish is then wrapped together, and secured with a toothpick, whilst it is sauteed in a pan until the meat is perfectly cooked.
It is, of course, possible to use different types of meat, for example chicken and mutton are hugely popular in certain regions. A well-made saltimbocca should melt in the mouth and leave you in no doubt as to why this is a classic Italian dish.
When visiting Italy you are bound to have an extensive list of must-visit landmarks from the Grand Canal in Venice to the Colosseum in Rome and the Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence. However, no trip to Italy could possibly be complete without sampling some traditional gelato.
Gelato is the Italian answer to ice-cream; made from milk, cream and sugar, it is a traditional Italian frozen-dessert. Although the ingredients are much the same as traditional ice-creams, the proportions are different and the end result is a creamier, denser and far richer tasting offering. There are an apparently never-ending combination of flavours, but classics include chocolate, mint and strawberry.