How to Italianise your larder

Turn into a true Italian cook simply by stocking up your larder with these Italian staples and enjoy simple, healthy food, without the worry of it going bad or losing its taste.

Pasta

Of course, no Italian larder is complete without pasta. In Italy, fresh pasta is not seen as superior to dried pasta, they are simply used with different sauces. While fresh pasta is sometimes matched with delicate, cream-based sauces in order to let the pasta take centre stage, dried pasta is just as highly regarded but used for a different type of dishe. At least three types of pasta should be kept in your kitchen: a ridged pasta like penne or rigatoni for thick, meaty sauces, linguini for thin sauces, preferably also with seafood, and finally a smaller pasta sauce such as stelline to add to soups.

Rice

But pasta isn’t Italy’s only carbohydrate culinary tradition, rice is also popular from the North to the South, and carnaroli or arborio are hailed (by most regions at least!) as the “kings” or “caviar” of Italian rices.larder polenta italian

Polenta

Once the humble food of peasants in Northern Italy, polenta has become the versatile, comfort food of fine dining. It has many innovative and exciting uses, all perfect for the winter months, and can be served with meat or as a sweet treat, such as in a cake.

Beans and pulses

Cannelini, borlotti and chickpeas have all been brilliant staples in the Mediterranean basin for hundreds of years, adding depth to soups and stews and packed with protein, B vitamins and fibre.

Olive Oil

larder caprese italian foodAnd I bet you don’t know the low-down on olive oil? Although olive oil is a prominent Italian staple, many people still do not know how to properly use it. The extra virgin variety should be used for salads and dressings, and the regular stuff should be used for cooking. As extra virgin comes from the first press of the olives, it has a stronger, grassier flavour and colour. While there are cheaper versions of it available these days, remember to treat it like wine, and buy it from a place where you can try before you buy to ensure the best taste for your money. Chef Paul Collins agrees, saying that “a good selection of olive oils, for cooking and again, drizzling over at the end of the process is essential. When you have fresh ingredients like tomatoes and freshly picked salads, and they are dressed purely with olive oil, the flavours are not masked at all.” Why not try a drizzle of extra virgin on a caprese salad?

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