Good as Pizza: Other Starchy Italian Dishes
November 22nd, 2021
Italy is recognised as one of the countries with the best cuisines in the world. The reason is that Italian food is simple and balanced, heroeing Mediterranean ingredients that are exquisite on their own: seasonal vegetables, herbs, olive oil and cheese. Good as bread, as the Italian proverb says. In fact, there is a good share of carbohydrates in Italian cuisine. And although carbs have a bad reputation, they are an essential part of a healthy diet. Combined with fresh, natural and locally sourced ingredients, and using the healthiest of fats, Italian food is a great source of nutrients that contribute to a balanced diet.
Speak as you eat, says another Italian proverb, suggesting that it is not necessary to show off and make things complicated. Italian cuisine turns simple ingredients into exceptional dishes, featuring starch and cheese in leading roles. With little resources they can stimulate the nervous system and satisfy your belly, nourishing your body and soul. Those who visit pizza places in Detroit often already know how good it feels. Read on to learn about other traditional Italian dishes that are (almost) as mouth watering as our favorite pizza.
A simple mix of flour, eggs, olive oil, water and salt that comes in a variety of shapes with different names: spaghetti, penne, tagliatelle, fettuccine, and pappardelle to name a few. Italians usually classify them as short or long pasta, and plain or stuffed, like ravioli. Pasta is a decent global contestant against pizza for the number one badge. The key is in the sauce. The pasta dressing varies from one region to another, and is determined by the ability of each shape to hold the ingredients. There are so many options that you could only eat pasta for a month and never get bored.
For example, Carbonara – made with eggs, pecorino cheese, cured guanciale or pancetta, and black pepper generally poured over spaghetti – is a famous Roman specialty dish. It was born by chance with the ingredients that were available at the moment when a young cook from Bologna was preparing lunch for a group of American officers. The recipe has evolved over time and although it is cooked by many, only a few can truly master it. Lasagna, on the other hand, is a classic oven-baked dish made by alternating layers of flat pasta sheets with sauce and cheese. Traditionally, lasagna did not include tomatoes, and while there are a lot of different approaches to the sauce, ragú and béchamel are essential ingredients.
There was a time in which polenta was more of a staple than pasta in northern Italy. It was originally made from whatever starch was available, including acorns and buckwheat, mixed with water and salt. Its versatility allowed for it to be combined with cheese, vegetables or meat, and feed large numbers of people. In the 16th century, corn was introduced into Europe and went straight into this recipe, quickly becoming the main ingredient. The preparation is simple, but it requires some technique when whisking the stone-ground corn into the boiling water to get the proper consistency. With time, the recipe evolved to include broth, butter, pepper and parmesan cheese. But it remains a great comfort food, especially during cold winters.
Introduced in Sicily in the 13th century, rice is a less popular carbohydrate within Italian cuisine. Yet Italy is the leading European producer of this crop, grown mainly in the Po Valley in northern Italy. But when they do eat rice, Italians do it well. Risotto is mostly eaten as a main dish, although in Milan, for example, it accompanies osso bucco. As with polenta, risotto is a simple recipe that relies on the creaminess acquired by carefully stirring the rice (previously coated and toasted in butter) in the stock. The velvety texture will perfectly support any ingredient, but the most famous one is saffron, which gives risotto the iconic yellow color. Parmesan cheese, onion and butter are rarely missed in the preparation of this delicious Italian food.
Another deceptively simple dish, tiramisú is Italy’s most famous dessert. The term literally translates to ‘pick me up’ from the Treviso dialect, righteously suggesting that this dish will bring you joy. There are historical records indicating that tiramisú originated as early as the 1800s. This unbaked parfait is made by layering sweetened mascarpone cheese with ladyfingers soaked in coffee. Egg, cream, cocoa and rum are sometimes added to enrich the flavors.
The starch party is over, and after reading this article you probably cannot wait to search for pizza delivery near me. Yes, pizza provides a culinary experience that cannot be easily matched by any of its Italian counterparts. In our opinion, it is the ultimate Italian dish, unparalleled in every aspect. But now you know a little bit more about the other specialties that Italian cuisine has to offer. Masters in developing sauces and skilled in giving prominence to cheese, they surely know how to enliven any complex carbohydrate. Now it is time for you to make an order from one of the best pizza places in Detroit. Give us a call!