You don't have to be Italian in order to make a great Italian dish. The trick to good Italian cooking is first and foremost, great ingredients. Read on for a break-down of some basic ingredients commonly used in Italian cooking.
Sea Salt- Sea salt is popular in Italian cooking because it is derived from evaporated sea water. Being a peninsula, sea salt is very readily available to Italian cooks. Depending on the region it comes from, the color and flavor can vary slightly. The coarseness and size of sea salt granules means that one tablespoon of sea salt cantains less salt than a tablespoon of table salt. Sea salt often contains minerals not found in salts mined from underground sources. It also lacks the calcium silicate added to table salt to prevent it from clumping.
Olive Oil- Olive oil is the oil of choice for Italian cooking as it is higher in monounsaturated fat. It is also used in preserving.
Herbs and Spices- Herbs and spices commonly used in Italian cooking include, but are not limited to, Basil, Oregano, Parsley, Thyme, Rosemary, Black Pepper, Nutmeg, Coriander, Fennel and Bay Leaves. Fresh and dried spices may be used interchangeably, but you will need 3 to 5 times more of the fresh ingredient than the dried since the drying process concentrates the flavor and reduces the size of the herb or spice.
Tomatoes- Tomatoes widely used in Italian cooking- sun dried, fresh, canned. For canning can sauces, choose nice, plump Roma tomatoes. For salads, choose beefsteak or cherry or grape tomatoes and for eating on a sandwich, you can't beat a beefsteak tomato.