Essential Italian: Italian Seasoning
The use of herbs and spices help to bring out the best in any meal. Properly seasoned food can bring new levels of enjoyment and satisfaction to the ingredients you use. Foods that don’t use the proper seasonings can make great ingredients end up bland and boring. With Italian cuisine, seasonings can help take the simple pleasures of Italian food and bring them to a level of taste and flavor that reminds us why Italian cuisine is loved all around the world. Knowing the right herbs and spices is essential to any Italian dish.
Here are some of the most well-known herbs and spices used in Italian cuisine. Whether you are using fresh or dried ingredients, these seasonings can help make your meals even more delicious!
A traditional ingredient in pesto, basil is an essential item in Italian cooking. Basil works well with tomato sauce and other pasta dishes.
Fennel is used with savory meat dishes like meatballs or sausage. Toasting the fennel seeds will help to bring out more flavor.
Part of the mint family (like basil, oregano, and thyme), marjoram is very similar to oregano and can be used as an oregano substitute. The flavor of marjoram is sweeter and has a lighter flavor than oregano.
Another popular ingredient, oregano is often used with basil. Oregano can be used in a wide variety of dishes: tomato dishes, savory meat dishes, and salads. Oregano has a stronger flavor than marjoram. Oregano is also an essential ingredient in pizza.
Parsley is often thought of as a decoration in a meal, but flat-leaf Italian parsley has a stronger flavor than the parsley used for decorations. Parsley can be used in marinades and soup stocks. Fresh parsley is also served after strong meals to eliminate bad breath.
This ingredient looks like pine needles and has a sweet, woody aroma. Be sure to use small amounts since it can easily overpower foods. It is often used in savory meat and vegetable dishes. Rosemary is excellent with grilled meats.
Sage is great with many meat dishes, but many use sage exclusively for poultry. Used in stuffing, it is a great addition to pork, veal, and lamb.
Thyme has a minty flavor but should be used sparingly since it can overpower your meal. Thyme is often used in soups and stews. It is a great compliment to other Italian herbs.
Using these herbs to make an Italian seasoning is simple. All you have to do is combine the various parts according to your taste. To start experimenting, use equal portions of your ingredients (be aware of the strong, potentially overpowering spices) and play around with the quantities. In addition to these spices, you can add garlic, onions, black and red pepper, and salt to fine tune your seasoning. Knowledge of the most commonly used Italian herbs and spices can lead you on new paths of taste and flavor adventures!