Italian cooking techniques: How they impact the flavor of your dishes

If you want to master Italian cuisine, you need to learn about Italian cooking methods. Although these techniques have been practiced for centuries, they continued to be practiced today because of the incredibly tasty results they deliver.

Fresh Pasta from Scratch

Dried pasta does not have the same texture and flavor as pasta which is made by hand. In Italy, pasta is not an afterthought or a quick weeknight dinner option that comes from a box. Italians make fresh pasta from scratch because they fully appreciate it as the base for a flavorful and filling meal.

You really only need flour and water to make pasta dough, though some types can be made with eggs as well. Semolina or “00” flour are excellent choices for many types of pasta, but you can experiment with different types based on what kind of dough you prefer.

Soffritto as a Base

Soffritto is the basis for a number of Italian recipes. It’s similar to the mirepoix used in French cuisine in that it contains a few key ingredients used across a number of dishes. For sofrito, those ingredients are minced celery, carrot, and onion. These are diced finely and browned in olive oil or butter over low heat to create a trio of aromatic and flavorful vegetables that can be used for soups, stews, braises, sauces, and more.

Many classic Italian flavors are built upon sofrito. It’s easy to make and adds a lot of depth to any dish. Once you master the basic sofrito, you can add other ingredients like garlic and herbs to customize it to each of your homecooked meals.

High-Quality Olive Oil

If you simply go to the grocery store and pick up whichever bottle of olive oil seems like a good deal, you’re doing your Italian home cooking a disservice. Olive oil is an essential part of Italian cuisine, and the quality of this product is paramount to getting a flavorful finished result. Because it’s used so extensively when making this cuisine, it’s absolutely important to get a good extra virgin olive oil that is fresh and flavorful.

In addition, it helps to understand what types of flavors and aromas each olive oil provides, whether it is sweet and fruity, nutty and herbaceous, or peppery and intense. These factors will affect the way your dish tastes, especially if you’re using it as a finishing oil. Remember that EVOO is delicate and should not be used while cooking at high temperatures.

Mortar and Pestle

The mortar and pestle are rustic yet versatile pieces of equipment found in just about every Italian kitchen. While we’re often tempted to reach for the fastest and most technologically advanced gadgets in the kitchen, the food processor or blender isn’t always the right choice when it comes to flavor.

A mortar and pestle are used to grind down ingredients to the perfect texture, which is essential when making pesto. In addition, this Italian cooking technique can be used for grinding up spices or making a traditional aioli. The crushing action created with this set of tools is preferable when you want to release more flavor and have more control over the final texture you achieve. Ultimately, it’s a very hands-on method that helps to get you in touch with the true spirit of Italian cuisine.