Common Spices used in Southern Italian Cooking

The flavors added to dishes by herbs and spices are what make a cuisine unique and special. The right combination and amount of spices is the essential element of cooking.

Salt: Sea salt is particularly good in Southern Italian cooking as that is the kind of salt that Southern Italians use since they were surrounded by the sea.

Pepper: Grinding the pepper fresh from the peppercorn is the best way to add that all important pepper to that recipe.

Sage: has a strong flavor and is excellent in chicken, pork and fish dishes.

Rosemary: is a sweet herb with a slightly woody flavor. Sage is great on pork, lamb and wild game.

Basil: Has a lighter taste than rosemary and can be used the same way as rosemary.

Parsley: is another sweet herb and is used in soups and on salads. Parsley is sometimes used as a replacement for basil.

Oregano: is a very popular Italian herb. It is used in tomato sauces and other tomato based dishes.

Marjoram: is similar to oregano but with a lighter flavor. Marjoram is used in a similar manner as oregano.

Garlic: Garlic is a member of the onion family and has a sharp taste. Nearly all Italian recipes will use some garlic.

Thyme: has a strong and slightly minty flavor and used be used with a light hand. Thyme is often used in combination with other spices and herbs.

Capers: are the flower buds of a bush that grows wild in Mediterranean area. They are dried and salted then used in recipes.

Bay leaf: has a very strong flavor and when used in cooking should be used sparingly with the actual leaf removed after cooking.

Pine nuts: have a very sweet taste and are toasted before use.

Anchovies: This small fish are often dried and salted then used in pasta sauces and of course on pizza.

Nutmeg: has a sharp flavor and is often used in small amounts in meat sauces and in raviolis.

Peperoncino: This dried red chili pepper has a fiery taste and should be used in very small amounts but adds a nice kick to sausages and meat dishes.

Fennel: The seeds are a commonly used in spicy sausages.

Coriander or cilantro: has a warm, nutty flavor and used sparingly in sauces and soups.

Other important ingredients in Southern Italian cooking are the tomato, olives and olive oil.


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