Is the Italian cuisine overrated

Pizza, pasta & more - the secret of Italian cuisine

Italy - that awakens the longing for sun, sea, outdoor dining and all the delicacies that the country's excellent cuisine has to offer. After the scent of freshly grated Parmesan, spicy herbs and good, simple country wine. Italian cuisine is one of the most popular in the world, certainly not least because it always reminds us a little of vacation. We'll show you how, thanks to the right ingredients, Bella Italia can be brought home very quickly.

Regional and original - Italian culinary specialties

Each region has its own cuisine: while coastal areas such as Liguria are characterized by fishing, the southern, barren regions such as Calabria and Sicily have specialized in sheep and goat breeding and thus in cheese production. Sicily is also known for its excellent olive oil, which is considered to be the best in the country. Regions such as Emilia-Romagna, Veneto or the south of Lombardy, on the other hand, have extremely fertile landscapes that even make rice cultivation possible on their moist fields. They also offer ideal conditions for intensive pasture farming, which is why meat, cheese, ham and sausage are among the main products, which is also reflected in the kitchen.

No matter how different the dishes of the different regions of Italy are, the way they are consumed is the same everywhere: Not alone at home, but with the whole family, neighbors or friends, and also in a restaurant. Eating together is an important ritual that is extensively celebrated. Usually four courses are served: Antipasti (starters), Primi Piatti (pasta, rice and soups), Secondi Piatti (fish, meat and egg dishes) and Dolci (sweet desserts).

Antipasti - first moments of pleasure for the palate

It has always been a tradition in Italy to bring small, home-made delicacies to the table in front of the Primo Piatto on festive and public holidays. These contain vegetables, often also meat or fish, and are supposed to stimulate the appetite. Even today, cold antipasti such as marinated artichokes, olives or mushrooms as well as Parma ham with melon are often started. This is followed by warm antipasti such as bruschetta, stuffed tomatoes or zucchini.

Surprise your guests with a large platter of differently topped crostini - this starter is not only extremely tasty, but also decorative. Pesto or creamy spreads with notes of sage, walnut or lime are ideal as a basis.

Or you can top roasted bread with grilled lardo bacon - another unique specialty of Italian cuisine, which can only be called Lardo di Colonnata after its place of origin. Due to its elaborate production process, this delicacy has delicious aromas of pepper, rosemary, garlic, cloves and cinnamon. Your guests will be delighted.

Pizza - the wonder of Naples

Pizza has its origins in Naples, at that time it served the residents as a simple means of filling. Today it is one of the most popular dishes worldwide and in Germany you can hardly find a place where you can't buy a pizza somewhere. However, we rarely taste as good as in Italy, which is due to the fact that there are a few things to consider when preparing it. The perfect pizza should have a thin, crispy base and a juicy, spicy topping. You should therefore rely on high-quality ingredients when shopping.

The right flour is particularly important for a successful pizza dough: it should contain as much gluten as possible so that the dough is nice and elastic and wonderfully crispy after baking. In Italy, therefore, a special type 00 wheat flour is used.

The final preparation is also important: only if the pizza is baked very hot (over 350 degrees) and briefly (maximum 5 minutes) does it taste as good as it does in the stone oven of your favorite Italian. However, a conventional oven cannot reach this temperature of 350 degrees, so a special oven is required that is designed for the preparation of pizza.

Pasta - old traditions rediscovered

Fussili, gnocchi, tagliatelle - each region also has its own tradition when it comes to pasta. And the variety seems almost endless - there should be around 250 different pasta shapes. In the past, “pasta fatta in casa” - that is, homemade pasta - was a matter of course in Italy and the corresponding family recipe has been passed on for generations. When the industrial production of pasta from durum wheat semolina found its way into the world, the tradition was somewhat forgotten and since then it has often only been used on certain occasions. One thing is certain: Homemade pasta simply tastes best, but it is quite time-consuming to make. A pasta machine can make the job a lot easier. If you still prefer to buy the pasta, you should rely on products that have been made according to an old house recipe and with as much manual work as possible.

But pasta dishes such as spaghetti bolognese, lasagna or pasta all’arrabbiata only get the right kick from an excellently coordinated sauce. Tomatoes are usually the basis - they give the sauce its intense, fruity aroma. However, this only works if the quality is right and the fruits have had enough time to thrive in the southern sun. The most aromatic table tomatoes in the world are San Marzano tomatoes that grow at the foot of Mount Vesuvius. In this area, the soil is particularly fertile due to the mineral-rich volcanic soil, which contributes to the wonderfully spicy taste of the tomatoes.

Risotti - from classic to creative

Milan is the home of the juicy rice dish that beguiles us with its delicious scent. Special round grain rice varieties are used for risotti, of which Arborio, Carnaroli and Vialone Nano are best. Arborio has the advantage that it is very productive and that it retains a pleasantly firm core even with longer cooking times. The large firm grains of Carnaroli are popular with chefs because they are great at absorbing the flavors of other ingredients. For dishes with a lot of sauce, on the other hand, Vialone Nano is ideal, as it has a wonderfully creamy consistency and still remains nice and fluffy.

During preparation, you should make sure that the rice is not washed before cooking, because the starch that adheres to it supports its pleasantly creamy consistency. In addition, risotto should only be cooked until the core is still pleasantly firm to the bite - 18 minutes are ideal, after which the pan must be removed from the heat so that the risotto can rest for five minutes.

In addition to the typical risotto alla Milanese, which traditionally uses butter, beef pulp, meat, saffron, salt and Parmesan, there are hardly any limits to creativity in the preparation of risotti. In the coastal regions of Italy they are often served with fish or seafood, but they are also delicious in combination with vegetables or mushrooms. Grated Parmesan gives the dish a highly aromatic end note. Here, too, it is important that the selected product is of good quality, because only real raw milk Parmesan has the typically delightful aroma and intense fragrance.

La dolce vita - Italy at its sweetest

“Dolce” - you should let this word melt on your tongue as well as the Italian desserts of all kinds that are titled with it. Dolci are the culinary finale of a real Italian meal. Depending on how festive the occasion is, light fruit desserts with pears, figs and apricots, for example, or lavish cream cakes and tiramisu are served. “Biscotti”, which are special cookies that can be dipped into a typical Italian sweet wine after a meal, are also very popular. Instead, try it with a limoncello served ice cold - it ensures freshness in summer.

Decoration tip:
A lovingly decorated table provides a Mediterranean holiday flair: a blanket and napkins made of coarse linen give it a rustic touch, and Italian dishes, which were made in traditional craftsmanship, go with it. Large water carafes, fresh herbs in pots, bouquets of wild flowers or ceramic bowls filled with citrus fruits complete the look. Buon appetito!

The special Ligurian crostini creams from Hagen Grote

Conclusion: The secret of the simple and yet so delicate Italian cuisine lies in the quality of the ingredients. In order to achieve the best taste experience, it is best to buy your products from a retailer you trust, for example from Hagen Grote. The supplier of high-quality kitchen products also has fine crostini creams from the Ligurian province of Liguria in its range, which get their top quality not only through the precise implementation of the recipes, but also because of the use of natural ingredients from regional, farm production. These include organically grown citrus fruits, nuts, fresh herbs and spices, pine nuts, mature cheese and the best Ligurian olive oil. The crostini creams are perfect as a delicious spread, as a base for fine pasta sauces or as a filling for ravioli.

All the ingredients and practical pasta accessories and pizza utensils mentioned in the article can also be found in our shop.