Our top 10 Italian dishes that we think you should not miss when you visit Italy. This is authentic Italian food with pictures and recipes for you to try.
With Italian food I love the freshness of the ingredients, the passion that Italians have for their food whether they are growing it, cooking it or eating it; they are just so passionate about every step. There are some great Italian dishes around! Always be a fly on the wall in a restaurant in Italy and you will see how the waiters are closely questioned about how the food is grown, where it has come from and how it will be prepared.
This is not because they don't trust the restaurant they are sitting in to create their favorite Italian dishes, but because how the food is prepared and where the ingredients have come from really matters to them. They care about food in Italy! They take pride in their food, their regional food, and their special dishes that have originated from a particular region; Parma Ham from Parma, Pizza from Naples, Tiramisu from Venice, Italy.
I love Italian food and below I have chosen 10 of my top Italian dishes. It really is difficult to choose the best of Italy's food, but I also have to say that I like traditional Tuscany food more than other regions. That's just my personal choice. It is the simplicity of the food that I like, its honesty and peasant roots. So, I think that it would only be fair to start with the first of the Italian dishes a well known almond biscuit that the Tuscans love to have after their meal with a little bit of Vin Santo, these are Biscottini di Prato.
2 cups almonds, unpeeled
4 large eggs, separated
2 1/2 cups sugar
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoon flour (extra)
1. Spread the almonds out onto a shallow baking tray and roast in a pre-heated oven at 400°F / 200°C for 4-6 minutes.
2. When cool, remove, skin and chop roughly.
3. Separate the eggs and beat the yolks with the sugar until light and fluffy.
4. Stir in the flour, almonds and salt gradually, using a fork and then combining with the hands.
5. Beat the egg whites until frothy and add fold them into the mixture.
6. Knead the mixture quickly, but thoroughly onto a floured board. Shape the dough into long cylinders, about 1/2 in diameter.
7. Butter and flour a baking sheet, reduce oven to 375°F / 190°C and bake for 25 minutes.
8. Remove from oven, and increase temperature back up to 400°F / 200°C. Slice the cylindrical shapes diagonally into slices 1 1/2 inches wide.
9. Return to oven for 10 minutes or until golden brown.
The next dish is a regional dish from Florence, it is called Bistecca alla Fiorentina. I warn you about steaks in Tuscany, they like their meat literally flashed in the pan and taken out.
I remember the first time we sat down to Bistecca ,my kids were fairly young. The plates came, and my 12 year-old daughter started cutting her steak, and in her droll sense of humor said, "I think this cow needs some serious medical attention". The steak was what we would call 'blue' and this how it is traditionally served. So unless you like your steak like this, make sure that you ask the waiter for a well done steak "Ben cotto, per favore". If you don't, you will be served a blue steak.
800 g T-bone Steak (thickly sliced)
salt and pepper to taste
1. Season the steak well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place on the grill about 10 cm from the glowing embers of a wood fire.
2. After 4-5 minutes the steak will easily come away from the grill. Sprinkle the seared surface with a little salt, turn and cook the other side, again sprinkling with a little more salt and pepper.
3. When cooked the steak should be well-browned on the outside, but still rare and juicy inside.
The T-bone steaks have traditionally been taken from either the Chianina or Maremmana breeds of cattle, and white beans in olive oil are usually served as a side dish.
This is a special Italian dish of the Dolomites. It is often made out of cubes of stale bread, milk and eggs. However, it can also be made out of polenta and flavored with bacon or cheese and parsley, and sometimes onion. It is a very ancient dish and a great dish to make when looking at what to do with leftovers.
250 g white bread
40 g butter
40 g bacon
1/4 liter milk
1 medium size onion
1. Cut the bread into cubes and place in a bowl, sauté in butter with chopped onion and bacon, mix eggs with milk then add the parsley and a pinch of salt.
2. Let stand for half an hour, and meanwhile, put water to boil.
3. Add to the mix a little flour and then knead with wet hands, form "balls" of 4-5 cm in diameter.
4. Once the water boils, reduce heat and cook the dumplings slowly for 15 minutes.
Drain and serve hot, topped with a bit of melted butter.
This is a very famous Italian dish from Piedmont and Valle d' Aosta. It is a hot sauce made with garlic, olive oil and salted anchovies. Traditionally during harvest time and is consumed mainly in autumn and winter.
Vegetables that are used for the dip consist of thistles (cardi), green, red and yellow capsicums, radishes, turnips, artichokes, baked onions etc.
2-3 cloves garlic
1. Peel a few cloves of garlic and mince. Add the anchovies with a bit of olive oil to blend. Mix well.
2. Put the mixture in a saucepan with plenty of olive oil.
3. Cook over very low heat so as not to spoil the ingredients, and when the anchovies start to melt, pour the contents of saucepan into dish which can be lit from underneath to keep the sauce hot. (like a fondue set-up)
4. The dipping sauce is used by simply dipping the sliced raw vegetables, or soaking them for a time, depending on your taste.
This is a very rich Italian dish from Emilia-Romagna that is a little like a Vienna Schnitzel, but different in that the meat and cheese are on the outside. The meat is also moistened with a little broth as it cooks.
4 veal t-bone steaks
4 slices of Parma ham
Slices of Parmesan cheese for the topping
1 cup meat broth
salt and pepper to taste
1. Season steaks lightly.
2. Place them in a bowl of breadcrumbs, and then dip into a bowl of beaten egg.
3. Place back in the breadcrumbs, and pat to make sure that a good coating has been achieved.
4. Fry in a little oil over a medium heat for a couple of minutes to brown.
5. Remove from pan and place in a shallow baking dish. Do not overlap and place a slice of Parma ham and some Parmesan shavings over the top of that.
6. Place the cup of broth around the steaks and place in a pre-heated oven at 345 F°. Cook for 7-8 minutes.
7. Remove and serve with a salad.
In Italian Orecchiette means little ears, and it is a pasta that when made, does indeed look like little ears. This is a famous Italian dish in Southern Italy, more particularly, in Puglia, where you can often see many woman, young and old, sitting outdoors and making the pasta by hand from an eggless dough made from wheat flour, water and salt.
Traditionally, orecchiette is served in Italian dishes with turnip tops, but it can be served with any vegetables, or even salmon, if you are getting really fancy.
3 small bunches of turnip tops
5 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 medium red chilies, deseeded, thinly sliced
400 g dried orecchiette
2 anchovy fillets
salt and pepper to taste
1. Blanche the turnip tops in boiling, salted water for a few minutes. Drain and squeeze dry. Chop finely.
2. Warm 2.5 tablespoons olive oil with the sliced garlic and chilies over a low heat. Do not burn the garlic. Add the sliced turnip tops and saute.
3. In another pot bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Add the orecchiette and boil until al dente.
4. While the pasta is cooking, add a ladle of the water to the turnip tops. Add the anchovies. Turn down the heat and let the anchovies melt, stirring all the time.
5. Remove cooked pasta and drain. Add to the turnip tops.
6. Toss in pan for a further 2-3 minutes to thoroughly coat the pasta in the sauce.
7. Add the rest of the olive oil. Serve.....More to follow.
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