Italian Food: Most Popular Articles
Zucchini and squash blossoms are (I think) one of the most delightful summer vegetables. They're good stuffed, but divine when fried.
Making a good risotto is rather like riding a bicycle: It takes a little bit of practice to begin with, and a certain amount of concentration thereafter. But making risotto is easy, and quite satisfying
Italy has many traditional pizza toppings, for example the quattro stagioni, which I have never come across in pizzerias elsewhere. Here's a quick rundown. Page 3.
Cooking pasta is easy, but there are rules to pasta cooking that will lead to perfectly cooked pasta every time.
The dish more people probably associate with Sicily than any other is caponata, a (generally) eggplanty delight that has now spread throughout the Peninsula -- a zesty summer dish that's ideal for perking up an indolent appetite on a hot day.
Many in the English-speaking world would call this a Porterhouse and wonder what the fuss is about. And they'd be right in most cases; though Bistecca alla Fiorentina is featured prominently on the menus of almost all the restaurants in Florence, finding a good one isn't at all easy. But when you do it's heaven on earth, delightfully rich, flavorful rare meat so tender it can be cut with a spoon. Much of the secret is the breed of cattle, Chianina beef...
Josephine Caravetta's Pickled Eggplant: Anne has very kindly replied to another person's request with her Grandmother's pickled eggplant.
Make-your-own fresh ricotta at home.
How to Boil Octopus so as to make it Tender, or Lessatura del Polpo per Ridurlo Tenero: Octopus is delightful, but it can be devilish to cook, going from soft and tender to rubbery and back as it sits in the pot; the trick is to either remove it before it goes rubbery or have the patience to wait until it passes through that phase. Here's a trick for boiling it that will yield tender octopus every time.
Pesto Sauce is a classic garlicky basil sauce from Liguria. Pesto sauce is also one of one of the finest summer pasta sauces.
Spaghetti Aio Oio, with garlic and olive oil, is the one dish that all Italian men know how to make. It's also quite popular as a late night snack among friends, say after a night out at the theater.
Almost every region of Italy has some form of stuffed pasta. A quick overview and many recipes.
Baccalà is salt cod sold by the slab, and you might think it an unlikely food to get excited over. But you'd be wrong, because well-cooked baccalà is a delight: Firm, slightly chewy, and not at all fishy in flavor. But very good, and easy to prepare too.
Pasta need not be pale yellow or cream colored. If you add puréed vegetables, chocolate, or other ingredients to your dough you can obtain a wide range of delightful hues. Here we have green, orange, black, red, brown,and speckled. Page 2.
Pasta ai Quattro Formaggi, or Four Cheese Sauce for Pasta: I was recently asked for a four cheeses sauce for pasta. Here are a couple variations on four cheese sauce.
Arrabbiata means angry, and if made right this pasta is spicy. Though the versions offered by the really cheap eateries in Rome rely primarily on garlic and hot pepper for their punch, some of the versions printed in cookbooks also call for onions.
Though slow-cooking pomarola is quite tasty, there are times you'll want something quicker -- that's when this classic Neapolitan tomato sauce, known in the US as Marinara Sauce, comes into play. It's perfect for pasta, but will also work well with rice or pizza.
Recipe for Livornese-Style Salt Cod in Tomato Sauce (Baccala alla livornese).
Squid ink is just what it sounds like -- the ink of the squid, and it adds both a sea tang and a deep black glow to this recipe. You will likely have to go to a fishmonger who has very fresh fish to obtain it, but it's worth the trip.
Pasta with smoked salmon is one of the standard Italian Valentine’s Day recipes (the versions printed are often aimed at men). This particular pasta with smoked salmon recipe is based on a dish of pasta I enjoyed many years ago at Il Pantheon, a restaurant in Rome.
In addition to being fine snacks, these golden filled rice balls make excellent antipasti at parties, and if you make several small batches with different fillings they'll work very well with other fried foods as part of a fritto misto (mixed fried foods). Or you may want a lighter meal, and just serve them with a tossed salad.
Home-Made Ricotta Though ricotta is often referred to as a cheese, it is actually a cheese byproduct,
Bruschetta is one of the simplest things in the world to make, and can be very satisfying if you have good extravirgin olive oil.
Giardiniera, or mixed pickled vegetables, is what most Italians think of when they hear the words Sotto Aceti, a collection of mixed pickled vegetables. The standard Italian antipasto misto wouldn't be quite right without these, and they also work very well with boiled meats in the winter months.
Lemon Ice: Aggie, who has kindly shared several recipes, says:
Lambrusco is the perfect wine for a picnic, cookout, or light meal.
During the time I lived in Florence, Italy, one of my favorite casual restaurants in town was Le Campane
Mushroom risotto is wonderful, especially in the fall when the mushrooms are freshly dried.
Funghi Porcini "Every year come September, the price of mushrooms drops and I stock up on porcini," wrote
Lasagna is as regional as everything else in Italian cooking. If you ask for it in Emilia Romagna or Tuscany, you'll get lasagna alla bolognese: pasta smothered with Bolognese sauce, béchamel sauce, and lots of grated cheese. In short, classic winter comfort food.
Zucchini and squash blossoms are an extraordinarily delicate summer treat. Zucchini blossoms are wonderful fried and delightful stuffed. How to select and cook zucchini blossoms.
Orecchiette Orecchiette are a distinctive Puglian type of pasta shaped roughly like small ears, hence
Polenta is easy to make, and the home made variety does taste better than what you can buy in a store. Never made it? Here's how. Page 2.
Larry asked, much too long ago, if I had a recipe for sopressata. Like many other Italian words, sopressata's meaning varies considerably from place to place. In much of the Peninsula it's a raw, pork-based salami that's been squashed slightly during the curing phase and is thus flat; the spicing varies from place to place according to local tradition. In Tuscany, on the other hand...
Pasta: Sauce or Gravy? Or Ragú? No matter what you call it, it's satisfying.
Cavolo nero, black leaf kale, is a leafy cabbage that doesn't form heads, but rather resembles palm fronds, with deep greenish black leaves that can be up to a yard (a meter) long, have pronounced ribs, and whose surfaces have a distinctive bubbly appearance. It's quite tasty and perfect in hearty soups or over (or in) polenta.
Dino Romano recently took me to task for linking to a modern Italian (in Italian) marinara sauce recipe that took liberties he was right to object to, saying: "Even Neapolitans, known for some departures when it comes to plain tomato sauce, wouldn't use parsley and oregano AND onion mixed with garlic in a sauce." Here is his marinara sauce recipe. Actually, two marinara sauces, one with whole tomatoes and the other with pureed tomatoes.
Almost every Italian city and town has its specialties, and there are regional trends too; the end result is a huge number of local cuisines rather than a single national cuisine. However, there are some dishes that you will find almost everywhere, and that are now standards among the many Italian communities scattered across the globe. Enjoy!
Trancia di Pesce Spada: Swordfish Steaks, and a simple Sicilian recipe for grilled swordfish steaks. Page 59.
Culatello, the most prized cold cut of Parma. Page 36.
Eggplant Parmesan, or Melanzane alla Parmigiana, is one of the great Neapolitan dishes that has spread across the globe. Eggplant Parmesan is a superb Neapolitan combination of tomatoes, eggplant, and cheese.
To use a wood-fired pizza oven you must have two things: A hot oven and pizza dough (toppings aren't essential, as there are also focaccia and other flat breads). We'll begin with the dough. Page 2.
Farro: Grain of the Legions Grano Farro has a long and glorious history: it is the original grain from
Hot peppers packed in oil are a wonderful way to jazz up bland foods, including the boiled meats that are a byproduct of making broth in the winter. They're also excellent for adding zest to picnic foods, especially frise, and also yield hot oil, which can be rather nice.
Clearing up the top 10 myths about pasta and how to cook it.
How to Dry Orange or Lemon Peel at Home: It's quite easy.
Northern Italy comprises eight regions: Liguria, Valle D'Aosta, Piemonte, Lombardia, Trentino-Alto Adige, Veneto, Friuli Venezia-Giulia, and Emilia Romagna. Quick overviews of the cuisines, and links to regional recipes.
Classic Italian dishes : classic italian dishes cassata alla siciliana panettone milano panettone ripieno layer cakes
There are a great many kinds of pasta in Italy. Here's an expanding list of the most popular kinds, with suggested recipes, possible substitutions, and alternate names for them.
Olive oil is quite healthy: It lowers bad cholesterol, has antioxidants that can prevent cancer and improve organ function, and may even protect from age-related dementia. In short, a food that could be sold in the pharmacy.
Cappelletti The word cappelletto means little hat, which is what this pasta should resemble; they're
Spaghetti with Tuna has a boring reputation. However, I first had this sauce during a geological field trip in the Apuan Alps: It had been raining for a week, and we were wet, cold, and miserable. When Marco was done feeding us, we were still wet, still cold, but satisfied. And I still make it when I'm out camping.
Crema pasticcera, pastry cream, is one of the basic ingredients used in Italian pastries and cakes: it's the creamy custardy filling of the layer cake, or the cream you find in your morning pastry, or the creamy base of your pudding. In short, Italian desserts wouldn't be quite the same without it.
Pizza toppings and Calzone Fillings.: cup tomato sauce pizza ovens calzone pizza shredded mozzarella pizza pizza
Though the Italian Mostarda does contain mustard, it's only distantly related to the yellow stuff in the squeeze bottle. Rather, it's fruit preserved in syrup that gains quite a kick from a healthy jolt of powdered mustard seed or essence, and is one of the standard condiments served with boiled meats in northern Italy. It's easy to make at home, and also makes an excellent gift.
Cherry tomatoes are quite nice in a salad. But they're also nice canned, and when canned are a perfect ingredient to add to sauces, or even top a pizza.
Easy Italian recipe for Baked Pasta with Mortadella (Maccheroni alla mortadella al forno).
Southern Italy comprises 6 regions: Abruzzo, Basilicata, Calabria, Campania, Molise and Puglia. Quick overviews of the cuisines, and links to recipes.
Rice salad, or insalata di riso, is one of those classic Italian summer dishes that varies greatly from cook too cook. This recipe is especially rich to give an idea of what can go into it. Feel free to tone it down or substitute other things to your taste.
DOC, VdT, DOCG: What does it mean? Reading an Italian label is usually straight forward: there's the
Recipe requests come in waves. In winter, people write for instructions on making cold cuts from pork: Salami, prosciutto, salsiccia, finocchiona, pancetta, and so on, which are collectively referred to as salumi. In the past these were all made when hogs were butchered in late fall or early winter, and set aside to guarantee a supply of meat during the warmer months when uncured meats would spoil rapidly.
Nocino, or Walnut liqueur, is quite tasty and extremely delicate. It's also easy to make, and a great gift.
Lasagna is a huge and varied universe. This lasagna with mozzarella recipe is easy, quick to put together, and also quick to cook if you use sheets of lasagna that need not be preboiled.
Saltimbocca is one of the most classic Roman dishes. The name literally translates as hopinthemouth and is singularly appropriate -- you can never have too many of these veal cutlets with prosciutto and sage.
When I was quite little my father worked on an excavation in Sicily, and Spaghetti alla Norma, spaghetti with rich, sensual tomatoey eggplant sauce, is one of the earliest dishes I remember. The Norma in question is Vincenzo Bellini's heroine, and the dish certainly does her justice.
Insalata Caprese is a simple summer salad made with tomatoes, mozzarella olive oil, and basil: Food fit for a king!
Frutta e Verdura: Photos of Italian fruit and vegetables, from local produce markets.
Risi e bisi (rice and peas) is a classic Venetian dish. In the past it was prepared only on the feast days decreed by the Doge (Venice's ruler), and though one can now prepare risi e bisi at any time, the dish really shines only when freshly harvested baby peas are available.
Brasato al Barolo, beef braised in Barolo wine, is one of the classic, elegant Piemontese dishes, and really does require a hearty red wine, ideally Barolo, to come out right. Save it for a special occasion, and you'll be quite pleased with the results.
Some say Tiramisu was invented in Siena, in the late 1600s, to satisfy Grand Duke Cosimo's sweet tooth, and that it subsequently became a hit with the courtesans. Others say it was invented much later by a restaurant next door to a House of Ill Repute in Treviso, and became popular in the 70s. Who's right?
Bucatini all'Amatriciana: This zesty pancetta and tomato sauce is commonly associated with Lazio and Rome, but is actually from the town of Amatrice, a part of the Abruzzo before Mussolini redrew the maps.
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Vitello tonnato, chilled veal in a tuna sauce, is one of the classic summer dishes, and is the traditional centerpiece of the Ferragosto dinner in Milano.
This recipe for baked Royal Dorade (or bass) was kindly given me by Prince Philippe Poniatowski, who makes superb Vouvray at Le Clos Baudoin.
There's no dish quite so refreshing on a hot day as a bowl of pasta seasoned with lots of freshly made pomarola (Marinara in the US) and a handful of grated cheese. This recipe expands well, and most households make gallons of it when the flood of tomatoes reaches its peak in August, forcing the prices down. It can also be adapted to canned plum tomatoes.
You may grow old, even doddering, but if you know how to make a good meat sauce for pasta people will still beat a path to your door.
Fiesolana Sauce is a smooth, creamy, cream sauce, and will work well over pasta or stuffed pasta, especially tortellini with a meat filling. If you modify the recipe slightly, you instead obtain an Alfredo sauce.
This is a south Italian sauce for grilled meats; the word salmoriglio derives from the Sicilian salmurigghiu, which means a light brine, and there is, indeed, some salt in it, though the primary ingredient is lemon juice. You use the sauce to flavor any sort of grilled meat or fish, from chops (lamb, pork, or steak) through elegant fish, including salmon or swordfish. In short, it's versatile.
According to Pellegrino Artusi, a good béchamel sauce, also known as white sauce, and a properly cooked meat sauce are the principal secrets of refined cooking.
Bresaola, the air-cured beef of the Valtellina, is now available in the US! About it, and serving suggestions.
Lasagna with Ricotta: When I was growing up, I was always rather taken back by the ricotta that I found in lasagna in the US -- there wasn't any in what I had in Tuscany. This is because putting ricotta in lasagna is southern tradition that reaches its apex with the glorious Neapolitan Lasagne con la Ricotta that are made for Carnival...
The classic Italian grigliata is a platter of mixed grilled meats. However, there are other options, including spiedini, or Italian kebabs. You can make them just as you like, and with spiedini you don't have to worry about something popular being snapped up before th platter makes full circle.
Mostarda is a classic North Italian fruit condiment that gains a healthy kick from powdered mustard or mustard essence. It's wonderful with boiled meats, or cheeses, and is quite easy to make. It's also an excellent gift.
Finocchiona is a variation on regular Tuscan salami that is flavored with fennel seeds. A fine sandwich meat.
A Rustic Peperonata, or Peperonata Rustica: Peperonata is stewed peppers, and there are innumerable variations on the theme.
Carciofi alla giudia, Rome's Jewish fried artichokes, are a wonderful treat: they look like golden sunflowers and their leaves have a delicious nutty crunchiness.
Zucchine Ripiene di Carne: Stuffed zucchini are a wonderful main dish in the summer months, and these, which have a meat filling, will also work for an elegant meal. They will be good both hot and cold.
The simplest focaccia topping is olive oil and coarse salt. But you can top a focaccia with many other things. Page 6.
Spaghetti alla Carbonara is breathtakingly simple: Eggs, mixed into cooked, crumbled pancetta and stirred into pasta, whose heat cooks them. Very tasty and very simple.
When I was younger, a friend of mine's mom would make prosciutto in the back room of their apartment under the eves in downtown Siena, and I remember how good that room smelled as I watched her scoop handfuls of salt over the ham one day. I haven't ever tried making it myself for want of space, but here is how.
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La Piadina, Romagna's flatbread, is extremely popular. Little wonder; it's tasty to bite into, wonderful when spread with cheese, and it's easy to make!
Pecorino Roamno is an anciant cheese, enjoyed by the Romans and still very popular even now.
Fig Marmalade is truly summer captured and put in a jar.
Branzino, or European Sea Bass. In England it's simply called bass. Also, a recipe for Filetti Di Branzino in Crosta di Patate - Sea Bass Fillets in a Mashed Potato Crust. Page 13.
Steak with a tasty, zesty, tomatoey pizzaiola sauce, which Don kindly posted to the Italian cuisine forum.
Making Vinegar From Wine If you make wine (as oppesed to apple) vinegar, you can dispense with the apples
Iwan writes, "This is my favourite home made liqueur:" : 1 bottle Currant Liqueur :1/3 quart (1/3 liter)
Recipe for the classic Italian dessert panna cotta.
Pappardelle alla Boscaiola: Pasta with a mushroom sauce is one of the most common Italian restaurant dishes, and you will encounter it throughout the Peninsula. This recipe calls for porcini, boletus edilis, and they are necessary to do it justice. Ideally, fresh porcini, but if you cannot find them you will have to make do: Purchase cultivated mushrooms and a 20-gram (1-ounce) packet of dried porcini...
Milano's Cotoletta alla Milanese closely resembles Wienerschnitzel: Both are breaded veal cutlets; the Viennese bone theirs and dredge them in both flour and bread crumbs, whereas the Milanese just use bread crumbs, and the Viennese fry in lard whereas the Milanese use butter.
Soaking will Purge Clams or Mussels of Sand and Grit. Page 3.
Spaghetti with clams is the quintessential summer dish, and is amazingly refreshing on a hot day. Though you can use canned shellfish packed in their juice to make spaghetti alle vongole, live clams are far better. I prefer them in a white (tomato free) sauce because I find that tomatoes overshadow the flavor of the clams.
Pickled hot peppers are extremely versatile: if you've a strong stomach they can be a nice snack, they're a wonderful addition to a mixed antipasto, and they also are excellent at jazzing up bland foods, especially the boiled meats that are a byproduct of making broth. It's easy to pickle hot peppers at home, and if you do you can make them just the way you want, with none of the additions commercial producers make.
La Crostata When I was growing up, my father directed the excavation of an Etruscan sanctuary on a hill
Cacciucco is a fish stew made in the Tuscan port of Livorno, from whatever the fishmonger has that's fresh and inexpensive. It should have a healthy jolt of red pepper, and will sell you on fish if you don't like fish already.
Stuffed Olives Ascolana Style, or Olive all'Ascolana: These stuffed olives are from the Ascoli region, and if at all possible you should use olives of the Ascolana strain, which are large and flavorful. These stuffed olives are generally classified as an antipasto, but will also work well as a first course, or as part of a platter of mixed fried foods, and are an excellent finger food.
This is one of the most classic Roman pasta sauces, and though it is very simple -- just 4 ingredients -- it does require care. Though some people add a few drops of olive oil, Roman purists frown at this practice, and I tend to agree with them. Just pasta, cheese, and pepper, and the creaminess of the sauce comes from a few tablespoons of starchy pasta water. The recipe will serve 6.
A delicate cream sauce with a pleasing blush from tomatoes, and all over pasta or potato gnocchi: A handy recipe for when you're in a rush, or if unexpected company stops in.
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Leaonard's version of a Roman classic: veal saltimbocca dry white wine veal chops extra virgin olive oil virgin olive oil
Crespelle are the Italian equivalent of crepes. Though the preparation now has a certain ring of elegance to it, and crespelle appear often on upscale menus, in the past crespelle were considered poor people's food.
Tortellini alla Panna - Tortellini with Cream These tortellini are served dry, and should be a little
Italian Regional Cuisines North Italian Cuisines | Central Italian Cuisines South Italian Cuisines |
Millefoglie, which the French call Mille-Feuille, is one of the most delightful cakes around: Flaky puff pastry interlayered with rich crema chantilly (or chocolate, or both). Libidenous! Wonderful! The perfect birthday cake!
The Italian equivalent of peasant foods would be cucina povera. Frugal recipes that were once belt tigthening, but that cooks are now revisiting in a slightly richer modern key. Fine eating!
Polenta, the Italian answer to cornmeal mush, is tasty, extremely versatile, and an ideal accompaniment to all sorts of things. Though it can be bought ready-made, purists are correct in saying that what one makes at home is better. In short, how to make polenta.
Bagna Cauda (literally "hot sauce") arises from the interaction between land and sea, with the anchovies
Porcini are Italy's most valued wild mushrooms by far, and when fresh are a great treat: you can grill them, stew them, make sauce with them, and more.
Cigliegiolo, or Cherry Liqueur: One of the finest things to do with an amarena cherry short of eating it! Ciliegiolo is a perfect after dinner cordial, to be enjoyed with friends on a cold winter night when cherry season is far away. Alcohol content about 40%.
How to make Italian sausage at home, following this easy Italian sausage recipe. This fresh Tuscan sausage recipe is quite good.
Panzanella is a refreshing Tuscan summer bread salad. It is quick to make, requires no cooking, and is the perfect thing to enjoy on a hot summer day, especially at a picnic or cookout.
Curried Spaghetti might strike one as odd, as curry is not one of those things one associates with Italian cooking. However, it does appear, often in recipes designed to excite the passions of the diners, and is, according to Livio Cerini del Castagnate, not something to be undertaken lightly: One has to measure carefully and respect the cooking times.
Italian foods are seasonal, with rich foods during the winter to keep the chill at bay, and lighter, more refershing dishes in the summer to help us deal with the heat. Here are some summer pasta dishes I especially like.
There are many many varieties of tuna sauce for pasta. This one is quick and tomatoey.
In much of Italy a farinata is a thick porridge made with vegetables, broth, and finely ground flour of one sort or another. Liguria's farinata is a bit different: It's made with chick pea flour and enough water to make a fairly liquid batter, and baked in the oven: What emerges is a very tasty chickpea flapjack (for want of a better term) that you slice up and serve. Expect it to go fast, and for people to demand more.
This is one of the most classic Sicilian cakes, and though some people link it to the island's Arab period because of the candied fruit that goes into the ricotta cream, among other things, it's actually much older: The word Cassata derives from the Latin Caseus, which means cheese. In other words, Cassata is one of the world's first cheesecakes. It comes as no surprise that there are a great many variations throughout Sicily; this particular recipe is from Trapani.
Misi writes: "Recently a dish has come to my attention and I was wondering if you could help me. The
A Sformato is similar to a soufflé, though not as airy. Sformati are amazingly versatile, ranging from hearty comfort food to light vegetarian delights to tasty desserts.
Gnocchi, Potato and Otherwise: Gnocchi are little dumplings, and though gocchi di patata -- potato gnocchi -- are the best known, there are many other tasty varieties of gnocchi.
The perfect way to start the day!: breakfast pastry grated zest teaspoon vanilla unleaded gasoline butter or margarine
Italy has many recipes for lasagna, and other kinds of baked pasta, which are collectively called pasta al forno in Italian. Here you will find a rundown of Italian lasagna recipes and baked pasta recipes, with timballo and timpano recipes too
Recipe for a traditional Carnival-time lemon-ricotta cake from Naples.
Recipe for Sicilian-style stuffed eggplants (melanzane a barchetta).
La Piadina, Romagna's flatbread, is extremely popular. Little wonder; it's tasty to bite into, wonderful when spread with cheese, an excellent foil for cold cuts, and (when folded) perfect for containing all sorts of things, for example grilled sausages and onions. In other words, it's an excellent cookout bread. And it's easy to make!
Bulb fennel is one of the great treats of winter.: bulb fennel anise oil de agostini winter vegetables raw vegetables
A Ciambella Romagnola, Romagna's traditional ring cake, is wonderful for breakfast, dipped into warm milk or caffè latte. It's also quite nice at the end of a meal, either with a glass of dessert wine or with the slices drizzled with zabaione or a fruit sauce or glaze.
Chopped beef, or Carne Cruda: In other parts of the world finely minced raw beef is called steak tartare, and they crack an egg into it. In Piemonte they don't, preferring lemon juice and olive oil, and you should try this even if you think you don't like raw meat, as it can be a rare treat indeed.
Zabaione is one of the classic, simple desserts that one finds in many places; the French know it as sabayon.
Leatrice writes, I thought I'd send you a no-fail potato gnocchi recipe that's shockingly easy.
Bresaola: cured beef from the Valtellina. Page 2.
Lamb Chops Scottadito: Scottadito means finger-blistering, and with these grilled lamb chops it's a serious risk: They're so good you'll not want to wait for them to cool. The recipe is courtesy of Ivana, and I enjoyed it at a delightful meal in Valpolicella, not far from Verona.
Tripe's origins are humble, but it can be quite elegant
Fresh figs have been a South Italian staple for thousands of years. They're wonderful as is, make excellent jams, are superb in cakes, and that's just the beginning.
Chickpeas, also known as garbanzos, may be native to the Orient, but have been a staple in the Mediterranean Basin for hundreds of years, and are quite common throughout Italy.
The best known Italian roast pig is porchetta: A boned whole pig very well seasoned and spit roasted for hours. It's classic festival food, and a standby at markets and fairs. But unless you're feeding a huge gathering, and have quite a bit of experience managing a fire pit, roasting it's not practical. A piglet is, on the other hand, if you're feeding a large group -- say 20-30 people.
One of the most spectacular ways of serving pasta is al cartoccio -- boiled, sauced, then wrapped in paper and baked. As a preparation method this may sound odd, but your guests will greet the arrival of the packets at the table with mounting anticipation that will turn to joy as they open them and savor the aromas that burst forth.
Eel is an oily fish, consequently ideally suited to the grill. This grilled eel recipe is an indispensable part of the Neapolitan Christmas Eve dinner. Grilled eel for the Seven Fishes! Fried eel is also good.
Chicken Cacciatore, or Pollo alla Cacciatora: This is one of those recipes that almost everyone has made, and almost everyone's version differs: For some it's plain chicken stewed in tomatoes with a little wine, some add olives, others shrimp, and others entirely different ingredients.
Grilled Zucchini: One would expect grilled zucchini to be an obvious dish, but it's not nearly as common as all that. The recipe is courtesy of Ivana, who prepared it for a wonderful meal in the hinterland of Verona. It's more of a procedure than a recipe.