There is so much more to Italian cuisine than just pizza and pasta. Although these are among the European country’s most famous exports, the depth of flavour and inventiveness in the dishes coming out of an Italian kitchen is second to none.
If you feel that you want to add a bit of Italian flavour to your meals, we’ve put together a starter, main course and dessert – which are not-so-often associated with Italian cuisine – which will get you singing like Pavarotti in no time!
In Italian, the starter is called il antipasto. This comes from the word ‘ante’, which means ‘before’ and ‘pasto’, which means ‘meal’.
The antipasto that wins, hands down, is the Insalata caprese. It consists of thinly sliced salad tomatoes as well as mozzarella balls. The balls are different from the chunks of mozzarella as they are more porous and soak up the flavour nicely of the olive oil and balsamic which is drizzled over this dish before serving. Interleaved with these slices are basil leaves which provide a nice contrast in texture and taste to the mozzarella and tomato.
Hailing from the north of Italy, il fegato Veneziana which means ‘liver from Venice’.
Liver, in most parts of the world, is usually served as a starter – for example, as in chicken livers peri-peri – or as the final piece to a salad. Thus, many people are only used to a small amount of liver. Although the liver is quite a rich meat with a strong flavour, there are quite a lot of other tastes which are introduced to this dish to complement the flavour. For instance, the fegato is cooked together with pan-fried onions and is served on a bed of mash.
When you decide to order Italian, the one thing that you can’t miss out on is dolce, which is translated as ‘sweet’. (In Italian, ‘dessert’ is translated as il dessert; however, the endpoint to the meal has made the adjective which describes the course as the name to describe it.)
One of Italy’s most famous desserts is tiramisu, which is made of finger biscuits that are soaked in coffee and almond liqueur which are layered with mascarpone cheese. The top is dusted with cocoa and makes you want to win big here as it’s so decadent..
Another famous dessert is the affogato which comes from the verb affogare which means ‘to drown’. This dessert consists of vanilla ice cream, which is ‘drowned’ in a shot of espresso. The hot coffee melts the ice cream on impact to make a coffee milkshake. We’ve seen restaurants finish off the vanilla ice cream and toasted almonds.
And if someone wants to offer you cannoli to go with your mid-morning coffee, don’t say no! These are pastry tubes that are traditionally filled with ricotta cheese that is laced with cinnamon and other spice. However, we’ve also seen these pastry tubes filled with custard and crème anglaise. Around Christmas time, you could be offered a slice of Panettone. Technically, it’s not a cake but rather a bread of leavened wheat flour that is filled with currents.