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Herbs and Spices used in Italian Cuisine

Dec 31, 2019
Italian Food

Herbs and spices are added to Italian cuisine to enhance the flavour, texture and sometimes, the colour of the dish. Herbs are derived from the leafy green parts of plant and spices refer to that which is derived from the other parts of the plant like the seeds, bark, root, berries, fruits and flowers. Some of the key herbs and spices we can’t cook without, are Italian basil, Italian parsley, thyme, edible flowers and fennel bulbs.

Italian Basil

A major and commonly used herb in Italian cuisine, basil (or basilico in Italian), is mostly added to cold dishes or after cooking a dish. The herb pairs well with tomatoes, garlic, cheese, and lemon, making it a standard ingredient in a number of Italian dishes. Additionally, basil is packed with a range of health benefits from aiding in digestion to improving your skin. We obtain our basil from an organic farm in Sri Lanka, to ensure each dish is prepared using the freshest herbs! Sample our Italian basil in some of our most popular dishes like Ravioli alla Norma or Risotto Al Basilico E Gamberi.

 Italian Parsley

Another widely used herb in Italian cuisine is parsley (or prezzemolo, in Italian). Frequently added to pasta, sauces or even soup, parsley comes in flat-leaf or curly-leaf varieties. The flat leaf variety is generally used for flavouring dishes while they cook, and the curly leaf is more suitable as garnish or fine chopping. Due to its natural ability to balance and emphasise on other flavours in the dish, parsley is mostly used to complement spicy flavours. Additionally, parsley offers a variety of health benefits from aiding in balancing blood sugar levels to improving your immune function. Like our basil, the parsley is also grown in our local farm. We generally add dried parsley to our pasta dishes or garnish our Polpo Alla Barese dish with powdered parsley.

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Thyme

Did you know that sprigs of thyme were often exchanged between Roman soldiers as a sign of respect? It was also used for baths and massage oils; but eventually, the herb became an essential ingredient in Italian cuisine. Common in cuisine from the southern regions of Italy, Thyme (or timo, in Italian) is added in pasta sauces that contain peppers or eggplants, or in dishes with grilled fish, roasted potatoes, tomatoes or even in stock for stews. Thyme, along with other Mediterranean herbs are used as a filling for our popular pork-belly dish known as Porchetta E Peperoni.

Edible Flowers

Vitello Tonnato Classico Piemontese

For years, flowers have appeased all senses. Whether to woo a loved one or simply brighten up someone’s day, flowers have been a part of everyone’s lives. The Ancient Romans, in particular, were known for their love of flowers, where they dined on salads of violets and dandelions. So, it’s no surprise that we found a way for these flowers to be amalgamated into our food as well, while being completely safe to consume of course! Edible flowers are one of the most common type of spices that have been used in most of our appetizers, like Vitello Tonnato Classico Piemontese and Battuta Di Gamberi Alla Mediterranea.

Fennel Bulbs

Fennel bulbs (or finocchio, in Italian), also known as Florence fennel, is wildly prevalent in Italy and has been consumed for years; even dating back to when Roman warriors included it in their diet to improve their strength. Fennel bulbs and dried fennel seeds are quite commonly used in preparing authentic Italian dishes whether chopped in a salad or sprinkled over fish as a garnish, dine with us to treat your taste buds to the real flavours of Italy. Try this in our delicious Carpaccio Di Tonno Marinato Alla Siciliana.

Curious to sample these delicious herbs and spices? Book your table at AQUA Forte today!

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