Fresh & aromatic must haves in Italian Pizza
If you are like me, you have probably wondered what makes Italian food so delicious. There are many fresh herbs and spices that are important to any Italian recipe and are loved for their taste, smell and color.
One reason why herbs and spices have become so important to Italian food is because they are easily available throughout the Italian countryside. Some herbs are so ingrained in the cuisine that they are not only important in adding flavor, but their very presence in the kitchen is believed to enhance the aroma of all dishes and delicacies.
At Pizza Di Rocco, we continue the tradition, and ensure we incorporate the very essence of Italy into our products, using only authentic Italian herbs and spicesin our appetizers, fresh salads and delicious pizzas in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Ain.
We wanted to take a closer look at some of the key herbs and spices in our kitchen – and learn a little more about them. In doing so, we included some additional Italian herbs and spices in our review of the eight most important herbs and spices in Italian cuisine.
First things first – what is the difference between a herb and a spice? Well – while herbs are obtained from the green leafy parts of a plant, spices are come from other parts like seeds, bark, fruit, and flowers. Herbs again are often used in larger quantities as compared to spices which are used sparingly due to the strong taste.
Hot Pepper (Pepperoncino):
Those who prefer spicy foodadd these spices to almost everything they cook –from sauces to meats to soups and also stews.
Traditionally, pepperoncino is not widely used with delicate and creamy dishes, but is perfect for other sauces, especially tomato based. At Pizza Di Rocco, we preserve a variety of these hot peppers in oil,for weeks at a time, in order to create a strongly flavoured, spicy oils.
Bay Leaves (Alloro)
Bay leaves, known as Alloro have their history rooted in ancient Greek mythology. Leaves of the laurel tree, bay leaves are often attributed as a symbol of glory and achievement.
Bay leaves, used fresh and dried are widely consumed as a part of cuisines across the world for their incredible taste. Grown throughout Italy, it is often used to season meat and fish dishes, as well as in broths and stocks. Bay leaves also form an important part of the classic bouquet garni in soups, sauces and stews.
Bay leaves contain cineole, which adds a spicy kick to pickled vegetables and meat marinades. Always remember to remove bay leaves from the dishes before serving.
Basil is one of the sweetest and most flavorful herbs of all. Although it is cherished in Italy, Basil originated in India, and travelled through the ancient spice routes to reach the Mediterranean.
Known as Tulsi in Hindi, it has a sacred history in India and has widely been used in Indian cookingfor centuries. Italian cuisine uses sweet basil to avoid the mint flavor which can be quite common in other varieties of the herb. Basil often has a spicy and peppery flavor with a subtle note of clove and mint. Best combined with olive oil, garlic, lemon, rosemary and thyme along with tomatoes, it can create great sauces and salads.
The famous basil pesto which is prepared fresh in Pizza Di Rocco every day, is a creamy mixture of basil with pine nuts, parmesan and olive oil. It is best eaten with bread, and over pasta. Basil and tomatoes create the perfect marriage in our InsalataCaprese along with buffalo mozzarella.
Basil can also be preserved in oil as well as frozen. It is rich in anti-oxidants, and according to traditional claims, it has anti-cancer and anti-viral properties.
Sage, or Salve, is often referred to as the cure of every sickness by herbologists. Salve, is in fact one of the ways in which Italians greet each other, just like a typical Hello. Sage has many health benefits and medicinal uses, thanks to its anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties.
This miracle herb originated as a spice in Asia and spread all over the Mediterranean and makes a great plant to have in your garden as well as a great herb for your kitchen. Another member of the mint family, sage is highly aromatic and is used fresh or dried in cooking. The leaves are slightly lemony with a bitter fragrance.
Rosemary, often referred to in Italian literature as Rosmarino, comes packed with a lot of qualities. According to ancient mythology, Rosemary is associated with love, friendship and loyalty. Aromatic by nature, this herb gives a pure and refreshing scent making it a popular ingredient in various health and beauty products. It is also used in adding aroma to olive oil.
Rosemary, like other herbs has been an essential part of Mediterranean cuisine for centuries. It’s fresh leaves are thin and spiky with a strong fragrance and flavor, making them a popular herb in Italian cuisine. Rosemary potatoes are one of the signature dishes of Italy.
Known for its exceptionally aromatic flavor,Thyme is a key component in Southern Italian sauces of hot peppers and eggplants, as well as a primary herb in soups and stews.
Ancient Romans bathed in thyme, due to its fragrant properties. To this day, Thyme is widely used in the preparation of bath and massage oils and incense. Thyme is considered therapeutic and antiseptic, making it a good herbal medicine for many.
As far as the culinary use is concerned, this Mediterranean herb makes an important ingredient in Italian and French cuisines. The most common variety of thyme found in Italy is six to twelve inches tall, with tiny oval leaves and a pungent aroma. Thyme is great when used fresh and makes a great addition to vegetables, including tomatoes and roasted potatoes. Thyme is also used in stocks and stews and like the other herbs, it is an essential component of the bouquet garni and herbes de Provence that are often used in Italian cooking and in aromatic oils as well.
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