There are a few simple rules when it comes to capturing the essence of Italian cooking. If your like me and you didn't grow up in Italy, here a few simple, some quite obvious, tips to help you cook like a true Italian -
- Use fresh, good-quality ingredients. Everything is so much easier and the end results tastes so much better when the ingredients taste good.
- Keep flavours clean and simple, no need for heavy seasonings and four-hour to prepare sauces..
- Cook by the seasons. Locally grown, in-season produce usually tastes best. Use your farmers markets and remember when it comes to matching ingredients "if it grows together it goes together".
- Get to know your vegetables. You can't cook real Italian food without using fresh ingredients. With a few exceptions, Italians rely on fresh, not frozen, vegetables.
- Learn how not to follow a recipe. Most Italian cooks prepare dishes from memory, changing quantities and ingredients ever so slightly each time.
- Taste as you cook. Only you know how salty or spicy you like your food. Season throughout the cooking process and adjust the seasonings just before serving.
- Build flavour. Many Italian recipes start with a soffritto, usually made of choped onions, celery and carrots sweated in olive oil. Don't rush this step. It builds flavor.
- Be frugal. Remember many of Italy's greatest dishes are the results of poverty.
- Enjoy yourself. If the meal allows you to enjoy the company and conversation of others, consider your cooking a success.