Common spices and herbs that are utilized in Italy

Spices, herbs, and Italian foods

In Italy, herbs and spices are vital for enhancing flavors. Herbs play an essential role in giving Italian foods their unique flavors. Many of the most well-known herbs grow naturally and abundantly throughout the Italy and they’re a huge part of its cuisine. It's nearly impossible for an Italian to cook without the addition of herbs and spices.

Common spices:

Nutmeg: Italians are fond of this spice, both in sweet and savory dishes. Whole nutmegs are bought and grated directly into the dish during cooking. It’s a common ingredient in ravioli and dishes containing spinach or cheese.

Pepper: Black peppercorns are always used. They’re ground fresh at the time of cooking or serving.

Salt: Sea salt is used throughout Italy.

Vanilla: A popular flavoring in sweet dishes, and is used with ordinary sugar to give flavor to cakes and pastries. The Italians use vanilla beans rather than extract.

Common herbs:

Borage: Borage grows all over Italy. It’s used as a flavoring and a vegetable. Ravioli is stuffed with borage. The borage leaves are also served like spinach or dipped in batter and deep-fried as fritters.

Fennel: used in three ways in Italian cooking: The bulb is used whole, sliced or quartered as a vegetable, and either braised or baked. It’s also chopped raw in salads. Wild fennel stems and the leaves are used in cooking to flavor sauces. Fennel seeds are a common flavoring in spiced sausages and other cooked meats.

Oregano: an essential ingredient in many Italian dishes, including pizzas, sauces and casseroles, its flavor differs slightly from one region to another.

Parsley: Italian parsley is the flat-leaved variety. Its flavor is pungent and generally used as a flavoring in Italian dishes rather than as a simple garnish.

Rosemary: Italians are fond of flavoring lamb and pig with rosemary. It is also used in soups and stews. Using this herb in moderation is necessary since its distinct flavor can overpower ingredients.