Traditional Italian cooking consists of several courses including the antipasti, the first course, the second course and you can add dessert to finish off your meal. Let’s take a look at each part of the meal and some recipes you can try right at home.
Like many other ethnic cuisines, Italian cooking features many staples that are often used in various combinations within the various recipes and are stocked as a manner of course. Some this includes meats and seafood such as Parma ham, anchovies, tuna, clams, and pancetta.
Rice, beans, and pastas are of course a large part of the daily diet along with many different herbs. Also, it can’t be cooked Italian style without a good dosing of cheese. Some of these (there are many others) include parmesan (not from a tube), mozzarella, ricotta, gorgonzola, and mascarpone.
When you are planning your meal, it would be fun to serve it as it would be served in an Italian home or restaurant. Start with the antipasti, or appetizer. Antipasti means “before the meal” and has been a major part of Italian cuisine and culture for many of centuries. Any dish, whether hot or cold, that is served before the first course is the antipasti and can be a salad, soup or small dish. Here is a simple antipasti recipe to start off your Italian meal.
In Italian, the first course is called primo piatto. Usually, the primo piatto is made up of a dish made up of grain such as pasta, risotto gnocchi or polenta. Some popular pasta dishes are Spaghetti Bolognese, Spinach Cannelloni and Lasagna al Forno.
Gnocchi are light dumplings made with mashed potatoes and flour or just flour. Usually, these dumplings are flavored with some type of cheese or spinach but sometimes chicken. Risotto is usually made with short-grain rice. This dish can be made with fish or seafood as well.
Polenta is created with cornmeal and water. You can enjoy polenta as a fried, broiled or baked cake that can be mixed with cheese. Here is a delicious saffron infused first course recipe that can follow your antipasti.
The second course, or secondo piatto, is the part of the meal that usually consists of meat and fish. The course might include steak, roasts, braises, lamb and chicken. Chicken is a very common ingredient used in the secondo piatto and generally, every part of the chicken can be used in creating the meal.
You can serve the beef on its own, but it is phenomenal over mashed potatoes or creamy polenta to capture the sauce!
Italian dessert is usually very simple like a fresh bowl of fruit. Often enough, more intricate desserts are made following a tasty meal including Zuccotto and Sicilian Cassata. Zuccotto is a molded dessert that is in the shape of a dome and it is created with ladyfingers soaked in liquor and filled with almonds, whipped cream and chocolate.
If you prefer something rich and luscious, you can make bowls of budino al cioccolato, Italian chocolate pudding!
Italian families while celebrating, or even on a Sunday afternoon enjoy all sorts of cakes and pastries. After a delicious antipasti, first and second course, the dessert can really finish of the meal. Try this quick tiramisu recipe. You can make it ahead of time before you start preparing dinner. And you can serve it directly in the bowls you assemble them in, so the presentation is beautiful with minimal effort!
Therefore, this dish should be prepared first while the rest of the meal is being prepared. With that being said, you can enjoy authentic Italian cuisine the way it should be enjoyed. Buon Appetito!
About Lynne Jaques
Lynne is a stay-at-home mother of two boys. As a former US military officer and the spouse of an active duty US military member, Lynne enjoys traveling the world (although not the moving part!) and finding new cuisine and methods of preparing food. She also has the habit of using parenthesis way too much!