Wednesday, April 9, 2014

4 Wonderful Tastes of Italy

There's nothing like a bowl of pasta with tomato sauce flavored with garlic, topped with cheese and pesto.  These 4 ingredients are what you always want to have on hand when making your tasty Italian dishes.

Fresh - Tomatoes are at their peak during late summer but they can be found year-round.  When buying look for vine-ripened for best flavor.  When out of season, you can choose canned which can be just as flavorful.
Sun-dried - For a richer taste, sun-dried tomatoes are a great choice.  They're vine-ripened and have been naturally dried to remove all of their water, leaving them chewy and full of concentrated flavor.

This is actually a cousin of the onion.  When cooking, break apart the head of garlic and remove the skin form individual cloves before shopping.
The smaller you chop garlic, the stronger the flavor.  Chopping or pressing releases more of its essential oils, giving the strong garlic aroma.

Mozzarella - This popular, mild-tasting cheese is great for cooking and foods like pizza because of its great melting qualities.
Parmesan - Is known for its sharp flavor.  This firm cheese is excellent for grating and enhances the flavor of your favorite Italian dishes.
Romano - Is another firm cheese with a tangy, robust flavor.  It makes a great topping for vegetables too and can be substituted for Parmesan when you want a bolder taste.

This delightful sauce is usually made with a mix of basil, Parmesan cheese, pine nuts, garlic and olive oil.  You can also find other types made form sun-dried tomatoes or red bell peppers.
If you grown your own basil or purchase it fresh, you can make your own pesto.  This sauce adds rich flavor to soups, chicken, fish dishes and pasta.

I've found that these 4 ingredients are a must for my kitchen and I try to never be without them.
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