The terrible truth is that the national dishes of Italy are quite nutritious and tasty, while the Italians are slender. So, what is the secret? It is that they use natural, fresh, high-quality products for cooking. The most popular dishes are cooked with durum wheat flour, which does not give you extra pounds.
Italian cuisine is very popular in many countries of the world. It is diverse and regional – each region has its special dishes. It is based on the centuries-old traditions of the peoples who inhabited the country at different periods of time. Arabs, Lombards, Greeks, and Romans lived here.
Traditional Italian cuisine is a real treasure. The main dishes, soups, snacks, and delicious desserts are worth attention. So, what should you definitely taste while traveling in Italy?
National dishes of Italy: top 14 main courses, first courses and snacks
In Italy, there is a cult of food. Locals have a nutritious breakfast and spend several hours for lunch and dinner. Each meal is a holy time of communication with relatives, friends and a kind of a ritual. Dishes are always cooked with fresh ingredients. Freezing ingredients in Italy is mauvais ton. Let’s explore the most popular national dishes of the country.
Pizza is a national Italian dish that first appeared in Naples. In total, the country has more than 2 thousand different types of pizza, where the most popular are:
- “Four seasons”.
In fact, pizza is a dish of Greek origin. In this country, it also served as a plate. In ancient times, pizza was considered the food of peasants. Pizza comes from the word pizea, which means unflavored bread. In fact, this is a loaf of bread with filling and seasonings, baked in the oven.
This dish began to be served to the royal table thanks to King Ferdinand II. The monarch lived in Naples; it is in this city that the most delicious pizza of Italy is cooked. Here it is baked in special stoves with a brick tray on the logs.
The oldest recipe for the traditional “Margarita” contains the following ingredients:
- red tomatoes;
- Mozzarella cheese;
- fresh basil.
Margarita pizza is a dish that conveys the colors of the national Italian flag.
- It takes 18 hours for the dough to be ready.
- In some establishments, you can observe the process of making pizza.
- Only the freshest products are selected for the filling.
- The dish is prepared in a wood-burning stove to preserve the flavor of all the ingredients.
In addition to the usual pizza in Italy, people also cook calzone.
Calzone – National Dishes of Italy
Calzone is one of the varieties of Italian pizza. Its peculiarity is that it is a closed pizza. The filling is laid out on the dough, then the pizza is folded in half and shaped into a crescent. The dish is cooked in such a way in the southern and central regions of the country. This is a snack here.
The filling for сalzone includes:
The alternative name of the dish is panzerotto. There is an option when calzone is made in the form of small pies – “calzoncelli”.
Lasagna is a traditional Italian dish in the form of a double cake. To cook lasagna, you need the following ingredients:
- durum wheat flour;
- mushrooms, other vegetables;
- bechamel sauce made from butter, milk and flour;
- bolognese sauce made from beef forcemeat and tomato paste;
- Parmesan cheese.
The dish is laid out in layers, alternating sheets of lasagna with bechamel, bolognese, and grated parmesan. The meaning of the word Lasagna is “more often”. That is, lasagna consists of many alternating layers. In addition to the traditional recipe, there are many variations of the dish.
Homeland of lasagna is Bologna. Therefore, to taste the most delicious multi-layer casserole, tourists visit this city. If you cook the dish according to a traditional recipe, it will take two days:
- On the first day, sugo is cooked – a sauce of meat and tomatoes; and bechamel.
- On the second day – the dough is made and then lasagna is baked.
There are recipes where parmesan is substituted with ricotta, gorgonzola, mozzarella, and in the classic “Bolognese” there is only parmigiano reggiano.
Most tourists who come to Italy strive to taste lasagna because it is one of the most popular dishes of the national cuisine.
Gnocchi is a simple Italian food that over the years has become a national dish of the country. This is a variety of dumplings made of the following products:
- durum wheat flour;
- chicken eggs;
- corn or semolina.
For a serving, they take a small piece of dough, form it into an oval, dip it into salted boiling water, add seasonings and boil until cooked.
Gnocchi is a side dish and a separate independent dish, which is served with a rich sauce. Gnocchi with seafood and fish is very popular in Italy. Salmon, shrimp, sea bass, and crabs are suitable.
The restaurants of the Eternal City have Gnocchi on the menu. The dish is cooked according to different recipes. One chef adds lemon ricotta and gorgonzola to the dish, another chef adds bacon and cream, a third chef adds savoy cabbage, pumpkin, chestnuts, and other products.
National dishes of Italy: Pasta
In Italy, there are many varieties of delicious pasta. The meaning of the word “pasta” is dough made from water and flour. There are dry factory and fresh homemade pasta. Dry pasta is made for long-term storage. Fresh pasta is made to be eaten immediately.
The most famous type of pasta is spaghetti people eat both in Europe and in America. Other kids of pasta are also popular:
- Cannelloni – pasta in the form of large tubes for stuffing with cheese and meat.
- Farfalle – pasta in the form of butterflies.
- Fettuccine – noodles in the form of ribbons.
- Macaroni – the very first representative of pasta that appeared in the CIS countries.
- Papardelle – long and wide pasta.
- Chapelleti – small pasta with and without filling.
- Capellini – very long and thin pasta.
- Kawatappi – fun pasta in the form of a corkscrew.
- Conquilla – shells or pasta in the form of a mollusk shell.
- Ditalini – thimbles, pasta in the form of short tubes.
- Elbow – horns or macaroni in the form of slightly curved hollow tubes.
- Agnolotti – small pasta with filling.
- Anellini – small miniature rings.
- Campanelle – short colored pasta in the form of bells and lilies.
- Fidio – pasta in the form of thin curved threads.
- Fusilli – pasta in a spiral shape.
- Gemelli – pasta in the form of straps intertwined with each other.
- Lanterne – small ribbed pasta bent around the edges.
- Linguine – macaroni similar to thick spaghetti.
- Orzo – pasta of unusual shape that resembles ordinary rice.
These and other types of pasta are national dishes of Italy, which are popular in different countries of the world. They are cooked in different ways, but in most cases go well with tomato sauces, cheeses and meat products. They are added to soups, used as a side dish and as an independent dish.
Pasta alla carbonara is a traditional dish in the capital of Italy, namely the Lazio region. Once this dish was very popular among Italian miners. But over time, Carbonara Pasta became popular in other regions of the country and beyond. The most delicious Pasta alla carbonara today is cooked by the chefs of Rome.
Risotto is one of the favorite Italian dishes based on rice. This classic dish appeared in Lombardy. Tourists go to this region of the country to taste delicious risotto.
Besides Milanese risotto is very popular. A specialty of the Milanese dish is the addition of the most expensive spice in the world – saffron, which gives the risotto yellow color and a unique taste.
Translated from Italian risotto means “boiled rice.” The dish is cooked with pumpkin, fish, pepperoni, sausages, and even frogs.
Based on the classic recipe you need short and fine-grained rice – arborio and varieties like it. First, the rice is fried, then stewed. When the dish is almost ready, then seafood, vegetables, mushrooms, minced meat are added, depending on what the chef intends to cook.
The numerous restaurants and cafes in Italy offer various risotto variations with:
- cuttlefish ink;
- white truffles;
- bacon and apple;
- berries and onions.
Risotto is a national dish that every visitor to Italy needs to try.
National dishes of Italy: Trippa
Trippa is a very specific dish that a few centuries ago was the food of the poor, and is now considered one of the most original delicacies in Italy.
Trippa is made from beef rumen – cow’s stomach and entrails. Before cooking, the ingredients are soaked, washed and cut into pieces. Then the rumen is fried, stewed with wine, meat, vegetable sauces and seasoned with pepper and salt.
The dish is served with grated cheese and mint is added. Due to the lengthy heating, Trippa is tender, light and very tasty.
Carpaccio continues the list of Italian national dishes – sliced raw beef tenderloin, tuna, octopus, and jerky, which is sprayed with vinegar with spices, mayonnaise, olive oil, and lemon juice.
There are variations in cooking the dish: it can be made of venison, smoked duck, and sea bass. Before serving, the dish is sprinkled with finely grated cheese and fresh herbs.
The dish was invented in Venice by Harry’s Bar owner Giuseppe Kipriani for Countess Amalia Mocenigo. She suffered from anaemia due to which she needed to eat a lot of raw meat.
Bruschetta is grilled dried white bread. It is rubbed with garlic, sprinkled with olive oil and seasoned with basil. Italians love crostini – a bruschetta with pasty. The filling is laid out on top – olives, tomatoes, mozzarella, ham.
Ciabatta made from batter is suitable for making bruschetta. The meaning of Bruschetta is “bake on the coals”.
Caprese is a light snack that has become one of Italy’s traditional national dishes. It is made from mozzarella, tomato, basil and seasoned with olive oil.
Caprese first appeared on the island of Capri, where the salad is considered a local treasure. All the ingredients are cut into pieces and laid out on a plate, alternating layers with basil leaves. The dish is tasty, simple, and patriotic. The combination of ingredients resembles the flag of Italy.
Tortellini – Italian dumplings made from unfermented dough with the addition of tomatoes and spinach. Different products are used for the filling:
- cooked mortadella sausage;
- ricotta or parmesan cheeses.
Tortellini is served in broth or with a sauce made of mushrooms, cream, and tomatoes. Homeland of Tortellini is Emilia-Romagna region, Bologna. Locals cook them in a casserole dish with a rosebud. This is a variety of pasta and one of the most popular national dishes of the country.
Minestrone is a classic Italian seasonal vegetable soup based on meat broth. There are many variations of the dish, so you can add pasta, meat, and various spices to it. Initially, Minetsrone was cooked from budget vegetables and leftovers of second courses.
The ingredients for the soup are traditionally cut very finely, the number of vegetables is unlimited. The soup is rich, tasty and beautiful. Minestrone means “ medley”.
According to one of the legends, Minestron should include twenty-one ingredients:
- seven types of vegetables;
- seven types of meat;
- seven types of seasoning.
According to the legends, this soup symbolizes the seven virtues of the cardinal. The dish is served with parmesan, herbs, pesto sauce, and pasta.
Other soups are also popular in Italy:
- seafood buridda;
- ginestrata with white wine and egg yolks;
- minestra di noci with mashed nuts, walnuts and other nuts.
As well as buridda, cacciucco is cooked with seafood – another traditional Italian soup.
Cacciucco – seafood soup, for which you will need fish broth, tomato juice and red wine. Shellfish and a variety of fish are added to the soup. By consistency, cacciucco is very thick, like goulash. The dish is very popular in Toscana – the port city of Livorno.
According to legend, Kachchukko was first cooked by the widow of a fisherman. To make soup, she used everything that her friends had brought. There is a tradition according to which it is necessary to put as many varieties of fish in a soup as there are “c” letters in the name of the soup, that is, five or more.
In addition to the main dishes, snacks and soups in Italy, there are at least five delicious national desserts. These are original, delicious dishes, so they are often cooked in different countries of the world.
National dishes of Italy: top 5 desserts
The list of the country’s best desserts includes: Gelato ice cream, delicate Sabayon, invigorating Tiramisu, crispy Cannoli, and airy Panna Cotta.
Gelato is originally an Italian dessert with a unique taste. To make the dessert you will need three high-quality ingredients:
- Whole milk.
- Nonfat cream.
- A lot of sugar.
Other ingredients are fresh fruits, berries, sauce and mashed berries; chocolate; grated nuts; cocoa; coffee; honey; candied fruit; liquor; caramel, and other ingredients.
Gelato is the pride of national cuisine and a symbol of Italy. The dessert is served chilled; it is cooked on the spot and it is not stored.
The dessert is cooked by trained people who are called gelatiere. These are narrow-profile chefs who work in special institutions, which are called gelaterias.
Gelato is deservedly the most delicious ice cream in the world. There are many tastes, varieties and types of Gelato. The first gelateria opened in Italy in 1800. The best of them are located in Rome.
Tiramisu is a famous Italian dessert that is loved in different countries of the world. This is an exquisite sweet with unique coffee flavor and airy texture. The meaning of the word tiramisu is “cheer me up.”
To cook a classic dessert, you will need the following ingredients:
- soft mascarpone cheese;
- chicken eggs;
- freshly brewed coffee;
- cocoa or chocolate chips;
- savoiardi cookies.
Over the years, in addition to the classic dessert recipe, many variations have appeared.
Panna cotta is a famous Italian dessert, which requires a minimum amount of ingredients:
The homeland of the dessert is the Piedmont region. Traditionally, Panna Cotta has a creamy white color, but you can add fruit syrups and chocolate to it. Dessert is served with fruits, berries, jam, and jelly.
Sabayon is a classic Italian dessert with a delicate texture and a pronounced wine aroma. This is an airy mousse that is traditionally served with biscotti sponge cookies or savoiardi cookies.
National dishes of Italy: Cannoli
Cannoli is a traditional dessert in all regions of southern Italy and Sicily. These are crispy wafer rolls that are filled with cream, mousse, creamy sweet curd filling or raw mascarpone before serving. Previously, the dish was cooked exclusively during carnivals, today it is cooked all year round.
National dishes of Italy are delicious traditional meal, which is popular in different countries of the world. Pasta, pizza, lasagna, minestrone, risotto, Tiramisu, and Panna Cotta have become the favorite dishes of Americans and Europeans.
To try the best Caprese salad in Italy, tourists travel to Lazio, the region of Rome where this patriotic salad was invented. Here you can taste delicious Gelato. To try delicious pizza, tourists go to Naples. To taste lasagna, they go to beautiful Bologna.
Italy is a country with its mentality, centuries-old traditions and original national cuisine.