A lot of Americans think they know what Italian food is. What passes for “Italian” in the states couldn’t be further from the real thing. Unfortunately, Chef Boyardee is not made in Italy and shipped over. It’s processed imitation. Pizza isn’t even real Italian, at least not pizza as you know it. Angel hair pasta with marinara, it seems like typical Italian fare, right? Wrong. It also isn’t considered the real deal.
The difference that you’ll find in real Italian food is in the ingredients. The dish is the sum of many delicious parts. Real Italian cooks buy their ingredients the day of, and never skimp on quality to save a few bucks.
If you want to make a truly authentic Italian meal, then you’re going to need to prepare your pasta from scratch. Boxed pasta will do in a pinch; but if you’re skimping now you are going to skimp later. You’ll need a pasta maker, which can be found in most big box or Bed, Bath, and Beyond type stores. You can try to make the pasta by hand, but this isn’t recommended until you’ve had a bit of practice.
If you want to make ravioli, just about any noodle recipe will do. Just flour a flat area and roll out your pasta nice and flat. Cut circles out of the dough. Use a cookie cutter, or a cup if you don’t have one available. Put ricotta and mozzarella in the center of your pasta circles. Cover your “cheesed” circles with another circle of pasta, and use a fork to seal them together. Make sure to wet the edges before you seal them, it keeps water from seeping in while you’re cooking the pasta. Just repeat those steps until you’re out of supplies, and you’ll be ready to cook! Extra dough can be repurposed into spaghetti to serve on the side, if you don’t like wasting food.
Be careful not to leave your pasta in for too long. Most Americans are used to soft pasta; but that’s not how things are done in Italy. Most prefer their pasta “al dente”, you know, the phrase spouted on all pasta boxes in the United States. The pasta should remain thick enough to need to be chewed. That firmness tastes better, and holds sauve to the pasta. When it comes to lasagna, cooking al dente is key. Otherwise, you’ll never be able to cut the dish once it is finished!
Garlic: Seasoning Of The Pros
If you don’t have a few cloves of garlic around, then your meal isn’t going to reach its full potential. Most Italian dishes use garlic in some way shape or form, even if only to season a dish with powder. Garlic will hold for quite a long time, so don’t be afraid to stock up when you’re at the grocery store next. You’ll be using it quite a lot as you perfect your Italian cooking, so it is money that will be well spent!
Fresh bread is a major component of every Italian meal, regardless of whether it is breakfast, lunch or dinner. You can do a lot of things with Italian bread, more often than not though it is used to dip in the sauce that you make with your pasta. Olive oil is almost always used when baking Italian bread, and bottles of the stuff are relatively cheap. Make sure you always have some around.
Dinner in an Italian home almost always comes with a salad. You’re going to want to become proficient in making them from scratch. You are free to use different greens, but make sure they are fresh. The bagged stuff simply won’t do. Vinaigrettes and oils are the most commonly used dressings. Make sure to avoid things like ranch. Most American places serve salad before the main course. If you want to go authentic Italian though, salad will be served after the main course.
It’s going to take a lot of work to create an authentic, delicious Italian meal. If you put in the work though, your family or guests are going to compliment you endlessly. Get to work, and enjoy your meal. If you love Italian food, you might want to read this article about the best Italian restaurants in Koh Samui you must try.