Italian Fruits and Vegetables

  • 01 of 96

    Una Treccia d'Aglio

    Treccia D'Aglio: Garlic Braid
    A Garlic Braid Treccia D'Aglio: Garlic Braid. © Kyle Phillips Licensed to About.Com

    Photos of fruits and vegetables from Italian produce markets

    Italy boasts an incredible variety of fresh fruit and vegetables; they change with the seasons, and every visit to an Italian produce market will bring something new: black-leafed kale nipped by the winter frost, vibrant spring zucchini, zesty summer tomatoes, earthy fall mushrooms, and the list goes on... These are shots from Italian outdoor markets.

    In the English-speaking world, Italian cuisine has a reputation of being, well,...MORE garlicky. No point in denying it, and a great many of the Italian recipes one finds in English-language food-related newsgroups and recipe exchanges call for the Noble Bulb in industrial quantities.

    But what's the situation on the home front, in Italy? Some may be surprised to discover it's nowhere near as pungent, with the Bulb being kept firmly in check throughout much of the Peninsula. Or even avoided, and Artusi criticizes this in introducing a dish:

    "The ancient Romans left garlic to the down and out, while King Alfonse of Castil abhorred it to the point that he would punish anybody who dared appear at court with its odor on his breath. Wiser were the ancient Egyptians, who venerated it as a god, perhaps because they had discovered its medicinal qualities. Indeed, it's said that it provides relief to those suffering from hysteria, promotes the secretion of urine, bolsters the stomach, aids in digestion, and, since it cures worms, is a preventive against endemic and epidemic diseases.

    "When sauteing it, take care lest it overcook, because at that point its flavor becomes quite unpleasant. Many people who are inexperienced in the preparation of foods loathe garlic just because they've smelled it on the breath of those who have eaten it raw or badly prepared. They therefore label it a plebeian seasoning and banish it from their kitchens; this fixation deprives them of tasty, wholesome foods..."

    Why the emphasis on Garlic in Italian American cooking? According to Beppe Lo Russo, an Italian food historian, the garlickyness of Italian American food was originally a come-on for the Anglos -- He says that New Englanders and others who ventured into Italian restaurants 50 to 100 years ago expected something sinful and racy, and the Italians gave them what they wanted: Lots of garlic, lots of hot pepper, and lots of lusty tomato. Could be true.

    And there are some garlicky Italian recipes:
    Agliata, Garlic Sauce: A fine spread.
    Spaghetti Aio Oio, Spaghetti with Garlic & Hot Pepper
    Pici All'Aglione,
    Pollo All'Aglio, Garlicky Chicken
    Baccalà All'Usanza dei Pescatori, a garlicky baccalà.
    More about Garlic and other recipes

    Garlic Elsewhere On About:
    Korean Pickled Garlic (Manul Changachi)
    Broccoli in Sweet Garlic Sauce
    Eggplant in Garlic Sauce
    Garlic Shrimp Tapa, Gambas al Ajillo
    Beef Brisket with 40 Cloves of Garlic
    Nagi's Garlic Gunpowder

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  • 02 of 96

    Aglio e Peperoncino

    Aglio e Peperoncino: Garlic and Hot Peppers
    Garlic and Hot Peppers Aglio e Peperoncino: Garlic and Hot Peppers. © Kyle Phillips Licensed to About.Com

    As I have already noted, garlic isn't as popular in Italy as many who live elsewhere think -- people do use it, but for the most part in moderation, and are careful to cook it lest they suffer from garlic breath, which is, as the authors of a Slowfood cookbook point out, terrible if you are planning on meeting someone "for business or randy pleasures" later in the day.

    Hot peppers are also unevenly distributed throughout the land; though you will find them everywhere, also because...MORE they are pretty, they are immensely more popular in the southern half of the Peninsula, and especially in Calabria and Puglia, regions whose cuisines would be very different had the pepper plant not been introduced from the Americas.

    A word of caution about preparing hot peppers: Wear gloves. The ribs and seeds both contain capsaicin, the compound responsible for peppery fire, and naked skin will absorb it, and transfer it -- even if you have washed your hands -- to other sensitive parts of the body, say the eyes or the (ahems). I speak from experience; many years ago I canned several bunches of hot peppers, seeding and ribbing them without using gloves, and the oil worked its way under my fingernails, causing untold distress that lasted for days.

    And there are some Italian recipes with Garlic and Hot Pepper:
    Garlic and Hot Pepper Vinegar, Aceto all'Aglio e Peperoncino
    Spaghetti Aio Oio, Spaghetti with Garlic & Hot Pepper
    Pici All'Aglione,
    Brad O'Conner's Pasta Atomica
    Gnocchi with Wild Spinach & Hot Pepper, Gnocchetti con Orapi e Peperoncino
    More about Garlic and other recipes

    Garlic and Hot Peppers Elsewhere On About:
    Thai Stuffed Chili Peppers
    Hot Mexican Salsa
    Ssam Bap (Korean Lettuce Wraps)
    Hell's (Indian) Flame
    Hot Chile Pepper Barbecue Sauce
    Nagi's Garlic Gunpowder

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  • 03 of 96

    Agrumi: Canaroni, Classici Cedri Toscani

    Cedro: Citron
    Citrus Fruit: Canaroni, Classic Tuscan Citrons Cedri: Citrons. © Kyle Phillips, Licensed to About.Com

    Citron, Citrus medica, is one of the oldest types of citrus fruit, and was introduced to Europe from Central Asia thousands of years ago: Pliny the Elder calls it Assyrian Apple in his Naturalis Historia. At that time citrons were used primarily as a mosquito repellent (and to this day a bright yellow citrussy repellent called citronella is common in Italy).

    And they are still used primarily by industry, as a source of citrus compounds, in part because they are the thickest skinned of all citrus...MORE fruit, with the skin accounting for up to 70% of the fruit, and in part because they are either extremely sour or extremely sweet, and are therefore not as popular as other members of the citrus family that are more consistent in flavor.

    Italians do, however, set citrons out on the Easter table, and you will therefore find them in markets come Easter.

    There are many cultivars of citron, the most common Italian ones being the Calabrian Liscio diamante, which is thick skinned and perfumed, and used primarily to make candied citron peel, and the lumpy Sicilian vozza vozza cultivar, which is less acidic and eaten at table.

    The citrons shown here are instead Canaroni, a Tuscan heirloom citron that has been grown since at least the 1600s.

    Incidentally, you may be wondering about the Italian name for Citron, Cedro. It derives from the Latin citrus.

    An Italian Citron Recipe:
    Sciroppo di Cedro, Citron Syrup

    And Elsewhere on About:
    Buddah's Hand Citron: A very different fruit

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  • 04 of 96

    Agrumi: Limoni di Sorrento

    Limoni di Sorrento, Sorrento's Fantastic Lemons
    Citrus Fruit: Lemons from Sorrento Limoni di Sorrento, Sorrento's Fantastic Lemons. © Kyle Phillips Licensed To About.Com

    You'll find lemons growing most everywhere in Italy -- potted trees that people move into their greenhouses (or simply indoors) for the winter in the north, and in the ground in the south. The most famous Italian lemon regions are the Peninsula Sorrentina and the Costiera Amalfitana, which are the source of Limoncello. The lemons pictured here are from Sorrento.

    And they are very good, but if you live elsewhere you probably have access to perfectly good more local lemons. The one piece of...MORE addvice I would give regarding lemons is to make certain that your lemons were organically grown, and therefore not sprayed with pesticides or preservatives, if you are making something that calls for lemon zest (the yellow, rich-in-lemon-oil outer part of the skin).

    Italian Uses For Lemons:
    Linguine al Limone e Zenzero, Linguine with Lemon and Ginger
    Vittorio's Pollo Alla Griglia, Or Grilled Chicken
    Torta Alle Mandorle e Limoni, Almond-Lemon Cake
    Gelato al Limone, Lemon Sherbet
    Limoncello
    Other Lemony Favorites

    Lemons Elsewhere on About:
    Citrus Marinated Halibut Thai-Style
    Lemon Braided Wreath Bread
    Lemon Poke Cake
    Lemon Bark Candy

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  • 05 of 96

    Asparagi: Fresh Green Asparagus

    Asparagi, Fresh Green Asparagus
    Asparagus Info & Recipes Asparagi, Fresh Green Asparagus. © Kyle Phillips Licensed to About.Com

    Italians have been enjoying asparagus for a very long time: We know that one Roman expression for getting something done quickly was do it in the time it takes to cook asparagus. So they ate it cooked quickly. Exactly what went on it likely depended upon the taste of the particular Roman. Because of its pronounced flavor asparagus has a way of dominating a dish made with it, and consequently seasonings tend to be light, lest they clash.

    The standard simple modern Tuscan way of seasoning freshly...MORE boiled asparagus, for example, is with salt and a good drizzle of extravirgin olive oil, and many Romans probably ate it like this too. Or they may have preferred the Venetian seasoning, which is a sauce made by grinding a hard-boiled egg with melted unsalted butter, and seasoning the mixture with salt, pepper and (if you like it) a little freshly minced thyme.

    Having said all this, a few words about asparagus. Though the Romans valued it highly, and especially liked that grown in the sandy soils around Ravenna, in Emilia Romagna, it subsequently passed from favor, and only began attracting attention again in the 1700s, when the farmers of Argenteuil, northwest of Paris, began cultivating it with care. Word of the rediscovered vegetable spread rapidly and soon others took up cultivation too; in Italy Piemonte proved especially suitable, though it is also grown (and prized) most everywhere.

    Recipes and Info:
    The Different Kinds of Asparagus, and Preparing Them
    Preparing Asparagus, Illustrated
    Alessio's Ridiculously Easy "Steamed" Asparagus
    Risotto agli Asparagi
    Asparagi alla Parmigiana
    More Italian Asparagus Recipes

    Asparagus Elsewhere on About:
    Grilled Asparagus
    Shrimp and Asparagus Pasta Asparagus Soup With Chickpeas and Gremolata
    British Asparagus: A Quick Collection
    Growing Asparagus

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  • 06 of 96

    Asparagi Bianchi del Bassano

    Asparagi Bianchi Del Bassano: White Asparagus From Bassano
    Beautiful White Asparagus Spears Asparagi Bianchi Del Bassano: White Asparagus From Bassano. © Kyle Phillips, Licensed to About.Com

    White asparagus is green asparagus that's deliberately kept in the dark, a process known as etiolation; as a result no chlorophyll develops in the spears, which remain white. It's slightly more delicate than regular asparagus, and is especially popular around Bassano del Grappa, in the highlands of the Vicentino.

    Recipes and General Asparagus Info:
    The Different Kinds of Asparagus, and Preparing Them
    Preparing Asparagus, Illustrated
    Alessio's Ridiculously Easy "Steamed" Asparagus
    R...MOREisotto agli Asparagi
    Asparagi alla Parmigiana
    More Italian Asparagus Recipes

    Asparagus Elsewhere on About:
    White Asparagus in Oil and Vinegar
    Cream of Asparagus Soup with Poached Egg Chinese Asparagus Salad
    Growing Asparagus

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  • 07 of 96

    Basilico

    Basilico: Fresh Basil
    Fresh Basil Basilico: Fresh Basil. © Kyle Phillips Licensed to About.Com

    Despite claims that basil originated in the Far East, I associate it with Italian cooking, and especially Ligurian cuisine. It has in any case been grown in Southern Europe for a long time: According to legend, Saints Constantine and Helen found a clump of Basil growing where the True Cross was buried, and its European name, which derives from the Greek Basileus, or King, refers to this belief.

    By comparison with Asian basils Italian basil is sweeter and milder. It is also quite sensitive to...MORE heat, which quickly evaporates its essential oils, deadening its aroma. Because of this, basil should be added to a dish at the very last minute just before removing the pot from the stove, or even after.

    While you will find bunches of basil of the sort shown here in Italian markets, with their stems wrapped in moist paper, it is an easy plant to grow on the window sill. Supermarkets sell potted basil and many people set them out, picking a leaf or two as necessary. Freshly picked basil will keep for a day or two in the refrigerator if the stems are wrapped in moist paper, and one can freeze basil, blanching the leaves before putting them in the freezer. I would not use dried basil; it simply lacks the aromas of fresh basil.

    Italian Recipes With Basil:
    Pesto Sauce: Using Liguria's Signature Sauce (for more than just pasta)
    Basil Strudel with Baby Calamari, Strudel di Basilico con Zotoli
    Rice with Basil and Tomatoes, Riso con Basilico e Pomodori
    Turkey Basil, Tacchino al Basilico
    Basil Vinegar, Aceto al Basilico

    Basil Elsewhere On About:
    Thai Basil Chicken Lettuce Wraps
    Tomato Basil Hummus
    Green Bean, Tomato, and Potato Salad with Almond and Basil Pesto
    Thai Basil Clams
    Cucumber-Pomegranate Salad
    Vegan Basil Mayonnaise

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  • 08 of 96

    Bietole, Barbabietole, or Rape Rosse

    Barbabietole, Beets
    Beets or Beetroots Barbabietole, Beets. © Kyle Phillips, Licensed to About.Com

    Bietole, also known as rape rosse in Italian, are known as beets or beetroots in English. They belong to the same family as sugar beets, and are rich in fiber and compounds that support both the digestion and liver function. They are also rich in minerals, including magnesium, iron and calcium, and have been shown to be effective in preventing certain cancers. Nor is this all; in the past they were thought to be effective against snakebite. A down side? They also contain oxalic acid, and...MORE therefore should be avoided by those prone to kidney or gall stones.

    When preparing beets, trim the leafy tops a half-inch above the beets (if the tops are in good condition they are quite tasty and can be used much like spinach), and wash them gently,being careful not to break the skins, lest the nutrients the vegetable contains escape. For the same reason, leave the roots in place until you have cooked them. When they are cooked, the skins will come off quite easily; be careful, because the juice does stain.

    Some Italian Uses For Beets:
    Bollito Misto di Verdure: With other boiled vegetables, served cool in the summer
    Roman Beet and Potato Salad
    With Bagna Cauda
    With Good Canned Tuna
    Asparagus Strudel with Beet Sauce and Horseradish

    And Elsewhere on About:
    Roasted Beet Salad with Crumbled Feta
    Spiced Beets
    Beets with Orange Zest
    Honey-mustard Roasted Beets
    Shredded Beets Salad

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  • 09 of 96

    Bietoline: Beet Greens Or Chard

    Bietoline: Beet Greens
    Versatile, and healthy too Bietoline: Beet Greens. © Kyle Phillips, Licensed to About.Com

    Bietoline, or beet greens, are quite common in Italy, and I was therefore surprised to discover,courtesy of Molly Watson's greens page, that in the US one generally only finds them atop beets in farmers' markets. A pity, because they're delicately flavored and quite versatile,working well as either a side dish (wilted, and sauted the way one might prepare spinaci rifatti) or as an ingredient. You will also find leafy green chard labeled bietoline in Italian markets, and that is what...MORE we have here.

    Beet greens are rich in vitamins A and K, and are also a good source of antioxidants and dietary fiber. Down sides? Beet greens are one of the few vegetables with oxalates (in very low concentrations, but they are there), and you should therefore avoide them if you are prone to kidney or gall bladder stones.

    Italian Recipes With Beet Greens:
    Fava Bean and Beet Green Soup
    Artusi's Black Risotto With Florentine-Style Cuttlefish

    Also Try:
    Greens With Onion, Ginger & Pepper

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  • 10 of 96

    Borlotti and Cannellini Beans

    Borlotti (Cranberry Beans) and Cannellini (White Beans), unshelled
    Fresh Cannellini and Borlotti Pods, Ready To Be Shelled Borlotti (Cranberry Beans) and Cannellini (White Beans), unshelled. © Kyle Phillips Licensed to About.Com

    Beans play an important role in the Italian diet now, and were even more important in the past: "People say, with good reason, that beans are the meat of the poor man," wrote Pellegrino Artusi in 1891. "Indeed, if, in feeling around in his pocket, a worker unhappily realizes he doesn't have enough to buy a piece of meat sufficient to make a soup for his family, he will find in beans a healthy, nutritious, and inexpensive alternative. And there's more: beans stay with one for...MORE a long time, stifling the pangs of hunger..."

    Fortunately for us, the abject poverty known as Miseria (Misery) that forced people to turn to beans for survival is a thing of the past, and now we can enjoy them for what they are: tasty, nutritious, and healthy, an excellent source of both protein and fiber.

    Though Italians grow many kinds of heirloom beans, if you visit a market in summer you're most likely to encounter bins of unshelled cannellini and borlotti. Here we have fresh, unshelled cannellini, whose pods are pale greenish white, and fresh, unshelled borlotti, whose pods are mottled red and white.

    If you purchase unshelled beans of this sort (and they are worth it, as they taste much better than dried beans), figure a yield of 50% -- in other words, 2 pounds shelled = 1 pound of beans, and they won't increase in volume as they cook.

    What are they like?

    Cannellini are small, delicately flavored white beans, and their pods are pale greenish white.
    Borlotti are ivory with red streaks, become brown with cooking, and have a more robust flavor some describe as nutty. Their pods are a mottled red.

    I have found cannellini in the US, labeled as white kidney beans. Borlotti are instead quite similar to cranberry beans, and indeed large quantities of American dried cranberry beans are labeled borlotti and exported to Italy. Kidney and navy beans are similar to borlotti in flavor, and will work as substitutes.

    A few Italian bean recipes:
    Pasta e Fagioli, Pasta Fazool
    Fagiolata, Piemontese pork & beans
    Fagiuoli all'Uccelletto, Tuscan Tomatoey Beans
    Fagioli Stufati, Simmered Beans
    Fagioli al Fiasco, Beans cooked in a flask
    More about Beans and other Italian recipes

    Elsewhere on About:
    Barbecue Beans

    Easy Cassoulet: Beans at Their Best
    Boston Baked Beans
    Easy Three Bean Salad (Parve)
    Rajma (red kidney bean curry)
    Senate Bean Soup

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  • 11 of 96

    Shelled Borlotti and Cannellini Beans

    Borlotti (Cranberry Beans) and Cannellini (White Beans), Shelled
    Freshly Shelled Beans Borlotti (Cranberry Beans) and Cannellini (White Beans), Shelled. © Kyle Phillips Licensed to About.Com

    Beans play an important role in the Italian diet now, and were even more important in the past: "People say, with good reason, that beans are the meat of the poor man," wrote Pellegrino Artusi in 1891. "Indeed, if, in feeling around in his pocket, a worker unhappily realizes he doesn't have enough to buy a piece of meat sufficient to make a soup for his family, he will find in beans a healthy, nutritious, and inexpensive alternative. And there's more: beans stay with one for...MORE a long time, stifling the pangs of hunger..."

    Fortunately for us, the abject poverty known as Miseria (Misery) that forced people to turn to beans for survival is a thing of the past, and now we can enjoy them for what they are: tasty, nutritious, and healthy, an excellent source of both protein and fiber.

    Though Italians grow many kinds of heirloom beans, if you visit a market in summer you're most likely to encounter bins of unshelled cannellini and borlotti. Here we have freshly shelled pale white cannellini and mottled borlotti, which are destined to become brown as they cook.

    If you purchase unshelled beans of this sort (and they are worth it, as they taste much better than dried beans), figure a yield of 50% -- in other words, 2 pounds shelled = 1 pound of beans, and they won't increase in volume as they cook.

    What are they like?

    Cannellini are small, delicately flavored white beans, and their pods are pale greenish white.
    Borlotti are ivory with red streaks, become brown with cooking, and have a more robust flavor some describe as nutty. Their pods are a mottled red.

    I have found cannellini in the US, labeled as white kidney beans. Borlotti are instead quite similar to cranberry beans, and indeed large quantities of American dried cranberry beans are labeled borlotti and exported to Italy. Kidney and navy beans are similar to borlotti in flavor, and will work as substitutes.

    A few Italian bean recipes:
    Pasta e Fagioli, Pasta Fazool
    Fagiolata, Piemontese pork & beans
    Fagiuoli all'Uccelletto, Tuscan Tomatoey Beans
    Fagioli Stufati, Simmered Beans
    Fagioli al Fiasco, Beans cooked in a flask
    More about Beans and other Italian recipes

    Elsewhere on About:
    Moroccan White Beans

    Dutch Brown Bean Soup
    Easy Spanish White Beans with Chard and Pancetta
    Vegetable and Bean Soup
    Herbed White Bean Soup
    Spicy Three-Bean Vegetable Chili

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  • 12 of 96

    Broccolo Romanesco

    Broccolo Romanesco, a green variety of cauliflower grown in Lazio
    An Heirloom Cauliflower from Lazio Broccolo Romanesco, a green variety of cauliflower grown in Lazio. © Kyle Phillips, Licensed to About.Com

    Cauliflower is one of the most popular winter vegetables in Italy, and though white cauliflower is the most common kind, there are others too. Broccolo Romanesco is, as one might guess from the name, grown primarily in the region of Lazio (of which Rome is the Capital). Though it looks very different, in terms of taste it is quite similar to regular white cauliflower.

    From a nutritional standpoint, all cauliflower is rich in vitamin C: A half cup will supply the recommended daily allowance. It is...MORE also rich in folic acid and potassium. On the other hand, it is poor in sodium, which makes it a good option for those on low-salt diets, and low in calories, which makes it a welcome addition to a diet. Moreover, cauliflower is rich in antioxidants, and therefore may help reduce the risk of cancer, and other research has suggested it may help prevent macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness among the elderly. In short, it's healthy.

    More Italian Cauliflower:
    Background & Nutritional Info
    Riso e Cavolfiore, Rice and Cauliflower Soup
    Michela's Gnocchetti Cimbri with Leeks, Pancetta, and Cauliflower
    Frittata Di Cavolfiore, Cauliflower Frittata
    Cavolfiore All'uso Di Romagna, With Tomato
    More Italian Cauliflower Recipes

    Cauliflower Elsewhere on About:
    Bloemkoolsalade, Dutch Caulifower Salad
    Dairy Free Chicken Coconut Curry Soup
    Roasted Cauliflower with Shallots and Herbs
    Cauliflower Latkes

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  • 13 of 96

    Broccoli

    Broccoli in an Italian market
    Another Roman Favorite Broccoli in an Italian market. © Kyle Phillips Licensed to About.Com

    The Romans are known to have been great fans of a leafy cabbage with cime (sprouts or florets, as opposed to the leafy parts) that sounds very much like modern broccoli, and a legend, attributed to Pliny the Elder, says the Emperor Tiberious's son Drusus made it so central to his diet that his urine turned green. What Pliny actually says is that the cabbage, especially the florets, is excellent, but that one Marcus Gavius Apicius (a bon-vivant, not the cookbook author Caelius Apicius, who...MORE lived later) abhorred said sprouts, and therefore so did Drusus, whom Tiberius criticized for having overly delicate tastes.

    Reading between the lines, we can see that broccoli's position as a staple food of the poor was already well established by Roman times.

    And there it remained for centuries; its status began to change in the mid-1970s, when authors of De Agostini's La Mia Cucina wrote that its popularity in North America had led the Italian food industry to introduce frozen broccoli florets in Italy. "It's a rustic food," they say, "but flavorful and tasty; it's traditionally cooked with fats, salted anchovies, and garlic."

    This is the sort of introduction one gives when presenting something that's virtually unknown, and indeed their audience -- the middle class -- probably wasn't that familiar with the foods of the Southern poor. This sort of introduction wouldn't be necessary today; broccoli has been thoroughly reassessed and if you visit an Italian market in the winter you will find bins full of fresh broccoli with people eagerly selecting florets.

    And well they should; broccoli is quite healthy. It's an excellent source of vitamin C, several vitamins of the B group, calcium and iron, and is both high in fiber and low in calories (27 per quarter pound, 100 g). More recent studies also show that broccoli contains compounds that help purify the blood, and thus protect against at variety of maladies including heart disease and cancer.

    Some Classic Italian Broccoli Recipes:
    Orecchiette Pasta With Broccoletti
    Pasta with Sausages and Broccoli
    Sicilian-Style Broccoli
    Broccoli with Bread Crumbs & Anchovies
    Tomatoey Broccoli
    Broccoli Casserole

    Broccoli Elsewhere on About:
    Broccoli in Sweet Garlic Sauce
    Scalloped Potatoes with Broccoli and Ham Broccoli Souffle
    Growing Broccoli (And More)

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  • 14 of 96

    Bulb Fennel, or Finocchio

    Bulb Fennel
    One of the Joys Of Winter Bulb Fennel. Kyle Phillips Licensed to About.Com

    If you visit an Italian market any time between late fall and early spring you're likely to see them in carefully stacked pyramids, fronds trimmed and the blemished outer layer removed, proudly turgid and radiating flavor: Bulb fennel. Despite its resemblance to an onion, bulb fennel is one of the most delicately flavored winter vegetables, and versatile too -- raw it adds pleasing anise-laced overtones to a salad or is an invaluable addition to a pinzimonio (raw vegetables), especially when...MORE the new olive oil is in, and cooked it is a wonderful foil for all sorts of wintry dishes, supporting but never distracting from what it's being served with. It also works well on its own, for example in a flan.



    Some Classic Italian Fennel Recipes:
    Fenecchijdde, Fennel Soup
    Finocchi Gratinati, Broiled Fennel
    Finocchi del Sud, Zesty Southern Fennel
    Finocchi in Salsa, Fennel in Egg Sauce
    Pisci di Terra, Golden Fried Fennel
    More About Fennel And Other Recipes

    Fennel Elsewhere on About:
    Chicken Breast with Fennel & Tomatoes
    Raw Fennel Salad for Winter Baked Halibut with Caramelized Fennel and Sweet Onion
    Fennel and Acorn Squash Whip

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  • 15 of 96

    Cachi or Diospri

    Cachi or Diospri: Persimmons
    Persimmons Cachi or Diospri: Persimmons. © Kyle Phillips, Licensed to About.Com

    Though persimmons originated in the Orient, Italy has lots of persimmon trees, both in people's yards and in the gardens of estates. Their popularity is actually not that surprising. The trees are quite pretty, and the fruit, bright golden-orange orbs, adds a pleasing splash of color during late autumn, when most things look rather drab.

    Persimmon fruits are quite firm until they ripen, at which point they become voluptuously soft, and almost gelatinous in texture. There are many varieties of...MORE persimmon that ripen over the autumn months, from September through December.

    Broadly speaking, persimmons can be divided into two groups: Non-astringent and astringent. Non-astringent persimmons are sweet both before and after they ripen. Astringent persimmons instead contain alum, and are woody-tongued astringent-tannic until they ripen, at which point the tannicity fades: The sweetness of the fruit comes forth, and one suddenly understands why they were associated with the Gods (diosperi, Godly spheres).

    Purchasing persimmons: Ripe persimmons are too delicate to travel well, unless they are arefully packed in padded Styrofoam trays. If you purchase unripe persimmons, to ripen them put them in a plastic bag with a banana to hasten the ripening. They are ripe when their skins loose their opacity, develop a full brilliant red-orange color, and give rather the way a water balloon does when pressed with a finger.

    Given the considerable number of persimmon trees in Italy, one would expect lots of recipes for them. Oddly enough, no: Since what's available is astringent, people either buy them ripe or ripen them, and then eat them by discarding the stem, quartering them, and scooping out the flesh with a spoon, discarding seeds and avoiding any white veins the persimmon flesh may contain, because they tend to be bitter.

    Persimmons:
    About Persimmons, The Italian Language, And Two Recipes
    Persimmon Arugula Salad
    Wild Persimmon Jam
    Baked Persimmon Pudding

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  • 16 of 96

    Capperi Sotto Sale: Salted Capers

    Capperi Sotto Sale: Salted Capers
    Capperi Sotto Sale: Salted Capers. © Kyle Phillips, Licensed to About.Com

    Capers are the unripened buds of the caper plant, Capparis spinosa, which grows spontaneously in cracks in brick or stone walls (or on cliffsides) throughout much of Italy. The buds are harvested by hand, dried, and then either pickled or salted. I prefer the salted kind shown here because pickled capers are more acidic, but which you use is a matter of personal choice. Come time to use either kind, one rinses them and is ready to go.

    In terms of flavor, capers contribute a distinctive greenish...MORE piquant flavor (if they're pickled it's more sour, and if salted less) that is quite common in South Italian dishes, ranging from Pizza through spaghetti sauce. This is not to say one doesn't find them in northern Italy; Piemontesi use them to jazz up potatoes, among other things.

    Some Italian Recipes With Capers:
    Caper Crostini
    Chilled Pasta Salad with Black Olives
    Puttanesca Sauce
    Salsa Verde
    Vitello Tonnato
    Savory Pie with Peppers, Capers and Tuna
    Chicken Cuscus & Caper Salad

    And Elsewhere on About:
    Turkey Scalloppini with Capers and Lemon
    Zesty Tapenade
    Veal Cutlets With Lemon, Garlic, and Capers
    Goat Cheese with Paprika, Garlic, Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Capers
    Spicy Ziti with Olives and Capers

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    Carciofi Morellini

    Carciofi Morellini, Morellino Artichokes
    Fantastic All-Around Artichokes Carciofi Morellini, Morellino Artichokes. © Kyle Phillips, Licensed to About.Com

    Artichokes, the immature flowers of a member of the thistle family, are one of the nicest things about winter in Central Italy; they appear with the leaden skies of December and accompany us through the beginning of spring, in April. They come in a tremendous variety of shapes and colors, from tiny delicate ones well suited for being eaten raw in pinzimonio, to purplish green medium-sized ones such as the Morellino artichokes shown here, which are suitable for sautéing, making spaghetti sauce,...MORE and whatnot, to Carciofi Romaneschi, large round artichokes ideally suited for stuffing.

    No matter which variety you select, you have to do so with care, because a fuzzy choke is a tremendous disappointment. Like a good orange, a good artichoke will feel firm and solid when you pick it up. It shouldn't give if you squeeze it gently, nor should it feel light. If it does, it probably has air (and fuzz) in its heart. Pass it by. Once you have selected your artichokes and gotten them home, stand them in a vase with water until you're ready to use them (they are flowers, after all). If need be you can keep them like this for a day or two, but they tend to toughen with time.

    How to Prepare Artichokes and More:
    Preparing Artichokes the Italian Way
    Tortiglioni Pasta with Artichokes
    Gnocchi with Artichokes and Walnuts
    Carciofi alla Giudia, Roman Jewish Artichokes
    Patate coi Carciofi, Potatoes and Artichokes
    Preparing Artichokes (Text Instructions) & Roman Artichokes
    Many more Artichoke Recipes

    Artichokes Elsewhere on About:
    Moroccan Tagine of Fava Beans (Ful) and Artichokes
    Artichokes with Creamy Aji Amarillo Sauce
    Stewed Artichokes with Olives and Moroccan Spices
    Artichoke Gruyere Dip

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    Carciofi Romaneschi

    Carciofi Romaneschi, Large Round Artichokes Perfect For Stuffing
    Large, Round Artichokes Perfect For Stuffing Carciofi Romaneschi, Large Round Artichokes Perfect For Stuffing. © Kyle Phillips, Licensed to About.Com

    Artichokes, the immature flowers of a member of the thistle family, are one of the nicest things about winter in Central Italy; they appear with the leaden skies of December and accompany us through the beginning of spring, in April. They come in a tremendous variety of shapes and colors, from tiny delicate ones well suited for being eaten raw in pinzimonio, to purplish green medium-sized Morellino artichokes, to Carciofi Romaneschi, the large round artichokes shown here, which are ideally...MORE suited for stuffing.

    No matter which variety you select, you have to do so with care, because a fuzzy choke is a tremendous disappointment. Like a good orange, a good artichoke will feel firm and solid when you pick it up. It shouldn't give if you squeeze it gently, nor should it feel light. If it does, it probably has air (and fuzz) in its heart. Pass it by. Once you have selected your artichokes and gotten them home, stand them in a vase with water until you're ready to use them (they are flowers, after all). If need be you can keep them like this for a day or two, but they tend to toughen with time.

    How to Prepare Artichokes and More:
    Preparing Artichokes the Italian Way
    Stuffed Artichokes: Several Variations
    Grandma Rosi's Stuffed Artichokes
    Artichokes Stuffed with Mint
    Artichokes Stuffed with Pancetta
    Preparing Artichokes (Text Instructions) & Roman Artichokes
    Many more Artichoke Recipes

    Artichokes Elsewhere on About:
    Crawfish-Stuffed Artichokes with Lagniappe
    Barley and Feta Stuffed Artichokes
    Cream of Artichoke Soup
    Artichoke Kebabs


    Note: Carciofi Romaneschi often have little artichokes attached to their stocks, and for this reason Tuscans call them Mamme -- Moms.

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    Carciofi al Mercato

    Trimmed Artichokes, in Rome's Campo dei Fiori Market
    Artichokes ready to be cooked, in Rome's Campo dei Fiori Market Trimmed Artichokes, in Rome's Campo dei Fiori Market. © Kyle Phillips, Licensed to About.Com

    If you visit Rome's Campo dei Fiori in winter, you will find tubs of freshly trimmed artichokes for sale. How'd they get that way? According to Giuliano Malizia, the secret for obtaining an artichoke that can be enjoyed in its entirety is knowing how to trim it.

    Slice off the tough parts of the leaves, i.e. the tops, with a sharp knife, beginning with the base of the artichoke where the leaves are tenderest and working up; in the process the artichoke will become spherical. With the...MORE outermost leaves, use your fingers to determine where the tough part begins and thus where to cut.

    When you're done with the leaves clean the stalk, trimming away the ridged outer part while leaving the heart (if you look at the end of the stock you will see a ring; trim away the stem outside it), and drop the artichoke into water that's well acidulated with lemon juice lest it blacken.

    If you are following another recipe turn to it at this point. Or, you could prepare Carciofi alla Romana, which is probably one of the best uses for really good freshly picked artichokes:

    Once all the artichokes are trimmed, takes one, whack it a few times against your work surface to loosen the leaves, pry open the center to scrape out any fuzz there may be with your knife, and slip in a piece of a garlic clove and a sprig of mint, or, in its absence, parsley, together with an abundant drizzle of olive oil, salt, and pepper. It doesn't hurt to rub the outside of the artichoke with salt and pepper as well.

    The artichokes thus prepared are stood upright in a pan, preferably terracotta, whose sides are high enough to keep the artichokes upright as they cook (you may want to shorten the stems, or trim the artichokes flat across the base). Pour enough olive oil to cover the artichokes half way, fill with water to cover, and set the pot to simmer until the water is completely evaporated. Once cooked they're ready to be served hot, though they're also excellent cold. They should never be reheated, however.

    More on Preparing Artichokes and More:
    Preparing Artichokes the Italian Way, Illustrated
    Stuffed Artichokes: Several Variations
    Grandma Rosi's Stuffed Artichokes
    Baked Artichokes with Potatoes
    Artichokes Stuffed with Pancetta
    Many more Artichoke Recipes

    Artichokes Elsewhere on About:
    Baby Artichokes Gratine
    Aginara Salata: Fresh (Raw) Artichoke Salad
    Spinach Artichoke Casserole (Dairy)
    Italian-Style Braised Chicken and Artichoke Hearts

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    Carciofini da Sott'Oli

    Baby Artichokes For Canning: Carciofini da Sott'Oli
    Baby Artichokes For Canning Baby Artichokes for Canning: Carciofini da Sott'Oli. © Kyle Phillips, Licensed to About.Com

    Carciofini sott'olio, canned baby artichokes, are one of the more common Italian antipasti, and also go into a number of other dishes -- chopped, for example, they make a nice base for a quick pasta sauce, and quartered they're one of the cornerstones of the Pizza Quattro Stagioni, a pizza topped with canned artichoke hearts, ham, mushrooms, and olives. While it is undeniably easy to buy canned artichokes, canning them at home is not too difficult, and you can add herbs or spices that...MORE commercial canners, who want to appeal to as broad a customer base as possible, might omit. Home-canned artichokes (like other canned vegetables) also make nice gifts!

    While one can use regular artichokes, Carciofini, baby artichokes of the kind shown here, are easier to work with and yield hearts of a more manageable size. When selecting them be certain they are fresh (they should not give when squeezed), because with chokes this small you don't want fuzz. One thing: though Italians do happily can baby artichokes, it is easy to reduce regular artichokes to small pieces with the standard Italian artichoke preparation technique, and therefore Italians generally use full grown artichokes in recipes.

    Some Italian Uses For Carciofini, or Baby Artichokes:
    Italian Canned Carciofini
    What Canned Artichokes Look Like
    General Information on Canning Italian Style

    Carciofini, or Baby Artichokes, Elsewhere on About:
    Marinated Baby Artichokes
    Spanish Mushroom & Shrimp-Stuffed Baby Artichokes
    Baby Artichokes Gratinee
    Crispy Baby Artichokes
    Lamb and Artichoke Stew

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    Cardi

    Cardi: Cardoons
    Cardoons Cardi: Cardoons. © Kyle Phillips Licensed to About.Com

    When asked to describe cardoons, Elizabeth Faulkner replied, "Celery on steroids."

    Nice, and manages to convey the vegetable's slightly menacing air as well -- they're 18 to 22 inch long, pale green to white stalks ribbed like celery, but with sharper edges.

    Some are straight but the most sought after are curved, a feature that results in their being nicknamed gobbi, or hunchbacks.

    From a botanical standpoint they're close cousins of the artichoke, but do not produce flowers --...MORE what one eats is the stalk, whose preparation requires a certain amount of care. Cardoons are quite fibrous; the fibers run lengthwise, like those in celery stalks, and must be stripped out. Once they have been cut they darken quickly (like artichokes) unless put in lightly acidulated water.

    The cardoons shown here are in an Italian market, awaiting a purchaser who will take them home and prepare them.

    A few Italian recipes:
    Fried Cardoons
    Stewed Cardoons
    Cardoon Sformato
    More about Cardoons and other Italian recipes

    Elsewhere on About:
    How to Clean a Cardoon

    Moroccan Recipe for Meat and Cardoon (Khorchouf) Tagine

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    Cardi Puliti

    Cardi Puliti: Cleaned Cardoons
    Cleaned Cardoons Cardi Puliti: Cleaned Cardoons. © Kyle Phillips Licensed to About.Com

    When asked to describe cardoons, Elizabeth Faulkner replied, "Celery on steroids."

    Nice, and manages to convey the vegetable's slightly menacing air as well -- they're 18 to 22 inch long, pale green to white stalks ribbed like celery, but with sharper edges.

    Some are straight but the most sought after are curved, a feature that results in their being nicknamed gobbi, or hunchbacks.

    From a botanical standpoint they're close cousins of the artichoke, but do not produce flowers --...MORE what one eats is the stalk, whose preparation requires a certain amount of care. Cardoons are quite fibrous; the fibers run lengthwise, like those in celery stalks, and must be stripped out. Once they have been cut they darken quickly (like artichokes) unless put in lightly acidulated water.

    The cardoons shown here are are prepared and ready to be cooked.

    A few Italian recipes:
    Fried Cardoons
    Stewed Cardoons
    Cardoon Sformato
    More about Cardoons and other Italian recipes

    Elsewhere on About:
    How to Clean a Cardoon

    Moroccan Recipe for Meat and Cardoon (Khorchouf) Tagine

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    Carote

    Carote: Freshly Picked Carrots
    Freshly Picked Carrots Carote: Freshly Picked Carrots. © Kyle Phillips, Licensed to About.Com

    Carrots are a fixture in Italian markets: You'll find them year round. Given their popularity, one might expect them to appear often at table, but they don't: While there are some carrot recipes, Italians generally consider the carrot to be an odore, or scent, i.e. an herb. As such it is minced with other odori (usually onion, celery and parsley) to produce what Italians call a battuto and the French a mirepoix, and used to flavor stews or sauces. Or, carrots are simply peeled and added...MORE to the pot when making broth, or shredded and added to a tossed salad.

    This said, there are a few Italian carrot recipes:

    Insalata di Carote Crude, Raw Carrot Salad
    Insalata Di Carote Mignon e Mandorle, Baby Carrot and Almond Salad
    Carote Stufate, Stewed Carrots
    Conchiglie con Asparagi e Carote, Shells with Asparagus and Carrots

    Carrots Elsewhere on About:
    Moroccan Carrot Salad
    Marmalade Candied Carrots
    Spicy Pickled Carrots
    Roasted Carrots
    Belgian Carrots

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    Castagne

    Castagne: Chestnuts
    Chestnuts Castagne: Chestnuts. © Kyle Phillips, Licensed to About.Com

    The chestnut has long played an important part in the Mediterranean diet: Homer mentions chestnuts, and Pliny even says which kinds of chestnuts were grown in Southern Italy. With time chestnut cultivation spread throughout the peninsula, because they were one of the few food crops that could be grown on steep mountain slopes, and also one of the few crops that could be expected to provide sustenance through the long winter months: By the middle ages were the staple food of the peasants in large...MORE parts of Italy, from Piemonte to Lazio and on down. In some areas, for example Tuscany's Lunigiana and Lucchesia, much of the economy revolved around the chestnut crop, which people gathered in the fall and worked long into the winter to sort, process, package and sell.

    In selecting chestnuts (and this is especially true if you live where they are imported), trust your eyes. Their skins should have a healthy glow, and a beautiful brown shine. If they look dim or mottled they may have mold - pass them by. They should also be firm and feel solid, with no air between the skin and the underlying flesh - wizened nuts may be old. Finally, the skins should be blemish free. In particular, look for pinholes, which likely mean worms.

    Some Italian Chestnut Recipes:
    How to Roast Them, and More About Them
    Riso e Castagne, Rice and Dried Chestnut Soup
    Castagne Stufate, Roasted Stewed Chestnuts
    Castagne Confettate (Marrons Glacées)
    Chestnut Flour Migliaccio, Commonly Known as Castagnaccio

    And Elsewhere on About:
    Words on Chestnuts, and Why Not To Eat Them Raw
    Brussels Sprouts and Chestnuts
    Soy-Caramelized Roast Chestnuts
    Kurigohan - Japanese Steamed Rice with Chestnuts
    Chicken with Chestnuts

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    Cavolfiore:

    Cavolfiore, Cauliflower
    Cauliflower, one of the most popular winter vegetables Cavolfiore, Cauliflower. © Kyle Phillips, Licensed to About.Com

    Cauliflower is one of the most popular winter vegetables in Italy. About 40% of the crop is grown in Campania, while Tuscany and the Marches are also major suppliers. The season begins in October and extends until May, with a variety of cultivars coming to market as the season progresses; in addition to the classic white cauliflower there are specialty cultivars, including a lime green version grown around Rome and a purple variety grown in Sicily.

    From a nutritional standpoint, all cauliflower...MORE is rich in vitamin C: A half cup will supply the recommended daily allowance. It is also rich in folic acid and potassium. On the other hand, it is poor in sodium, which makes it a good option for those on low-salt diets, and low in calories, which makes it a welcome addition to a diet. Moreover, cauliflower is rich in antioxidants, and therefore may help reduce the risk of cancer, and other research has suggested it may help prevent macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness among the elderly. In short, it's healthy.

    More Italian Cauliflower:
    Background & Nutritional Info
    Riso e Cavolfiore, Rice and Cauliflower Soup
    Michela's Gnocchetti Cimbri with Leeks, Pancetta, and Cauliflower
    Frittata Di Cavolfiore, Cauliflower Frittata
    Cavolfiore All'uso Di Romagna, With Tomato
    More Italian Cauliflower Recipes

    Cauliflower Elsewhere on About:
    Quick Cream of Cauliflower Soup
    Mashed Cauliflower Puree
    Gobhi Aaloo Mutter Ki Subzi, Cauliflower Peas and Potatoes
    French Roasted Cauliflower

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    Cavolo Cappuccio Bianco

    Cavolo Cappuccio Bianco: Green Cabbage
    Green Cabbage Cavolo Cappuccio Bianco: Green Cabbage. © Kyle Phillips, Licensed to About.Com

    Cavolo cappuccio is the firm, round, smooth-leaved head cabbage that can be either purplish red or pale green. It's one of the more abundant Italian cabbages, grown throughout the land, and in particular in Lombardia and the Veneto.

    And it's quite healthy: Unseasoned cabbage is low in calories (about 25 per 100 g; this works out to about 22 per chopped cup), an excellent source of fiber, and rich in calcium and vitamins C, B6, and E. It also contains no cholesterol, and is low in...MORE saturated fats. Negatives? It does contain about 2.8% sugars, but the positives outweigh this, and the calcium content is such that Italian doctors recommend it as a source of calcium for those at risk for osteoporosis.

    In terms of flavor, red and green head cabbages are interchangeable, and therefore is you are planning to serve the cabbage raw, say in a salad or slaw, you can let aesthetics be your guide. However, they are less interchangeable when cooked: As red cabbage cooks its color will leach out, dying what it's cooked with, and unless it is cooked in an acidulated liquid it will turn an unpleasant blue. Because of these limitations, many people prefer to use green cabbage in recipes.

    A few Italian recipes with Cavolo Cappuccio:
    Tortiglioni Con Cavolo E Salsiccia, pasta with sausages and cabbage.
    Cavolo Cappuccio Alla Siciliana, tomatoey stewed cabbage.
    Cavolo Con Le Mele, Red cabbage and apples marinated in spiced wine and stewed.
    Cabbage Casserole, a way to use leftover cabbage and meat.
    Crauti, or Cappucci Acidi - Sauerkraut: Making it at home.
    More about Cavolo Cappuccio and other recipes

    Green and Red Cabbage Elsewhere On About:
    Jim Hill's Grilled Cabbage
    Korean Spicy Pickled Cabbage (Baechu Kimchi)
    Raw Vegan Curried Cabbage Salad
    Polish Stuffed Cabbage Recipe - Golabki
    Ginger Sautéed Cabbage
    Bund Gobhi/ Patta Gobhi Ki Subji (stir fry cabbage)

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    Cavolo Cappuccio Rosso

    Cavolo Cappuccio Rosso: Red Cabbage
    Red Cabbage Cavolo Cappuccio Rosso: Red Cabbage. © Kyle Phillips, Licensed to About.Com

    Cavolo cappuccio is the firm, round, smooth-leaved head cabbage that can be either purplish red or pale green. It's one of the more abundant Italian cabbages, grown throughout the land, and in particular in Lombardia and the Veneto.

    And it's quite healthy: Unseasoned cabbage is low in calories (about 25 per 100 g; this works out to about 22 per chopped cup), an excellent source of fiber, and rich in calcium and vitamins C, B6, and E. It also contains no cholesterol, and is low in...MORE saturated fats. Negatives? It does contain about 2.8% sugars, but the positives outweigh this, and the calcium content is such that Italian doctors recommend it as a source of calcium for those at risk for osteoporosis.

    In terms of flavor, red and green head cabbages are interchangeable, and therefore is you are planning to serve the cabbage raw, say in a salad or slaw, you can let aesthetics be your guide. However, they are less interchangeable when cooked: As red cabbage cooks its color will leach out, dying what it's cooked with, and unless it is cooked in an acidulated liquid it will turn an unpleasant blue. Because of these limitations, many people prefer to use green cabbage in recipes.

    A few Italian recipes with Cavolo Cappuccio:
    Tortiglioni Con Cavolo E Salsiccia, pasta with sausages and cabbage.
    Cavolo Cappuccio Alla Siciliana, tomatoey stewed cabbage.
    Cavolo Con Le Mele, Red cabbage and apples marinated in spiced wine and stewed.
    Cabbage Casserole, a way to use leftover cabbage and meat.
    Crauti, or Cappucci Acidi - Sauerkraut: Making it at home.
    More about Cavolo Cappuccio and other recipes

    Red Cabbage Elsewhere On About:
    Red Cabbage, Apple and Mustard
    Red Cabbage San Isidro Style
    Pork Tenderloins Braised with Red Cabbage
    Red Cabbage Coleslaw with Strawberry Lemonade Vinaigrette Dressing
    Grandmother's Red Cabbage (Rode Kool Met Appeltjes)
    Caraway-Scented Red Cabbage

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    Cavolo Nero

    Cavolo Nero: Black Leaf Kale
    Black Leaf Kale, or Dinosaur Kale or Laciniato Kale Cavolo Nero: Black Leaf Kale. © Kyle Phillips, Licensed to About.Com

    If the tomato is Italy's summer vegetable, especially in the south, Cabbage is probably the winter vegetable: The flowering varieties, especially broccoli raab and cauliflower in the south, and head cabbages in the north. And where does that leave the center?

    Well, there's Cavolo Nero, Brassica oleracea acephala or black leaf kale, which Italians generally associate with Tuscany: It's a leafy cabbage that doesn't form heads, but rather resembles palm fronds, with deep greenish...MORE black leaves that can be up to a yard (a meter) long, have pronounced ribs, and whose surfaces have a distinctive bubbly appearance.

    In the English-speaking world some call it Cavolo Nero, while others call it dinosaur kale or lacinato kale or cabbage (lacinato is a botanical term that means uneven, like a fringe, and refers to the leaves). You may have better luck finding it in an organic produce market than in a larger less specialized market. If you simply cannot find it, seeds are readily available on the Internet, and it is easy to grow.

    Though black leaf kale appears in the markets in November and continues through spring, it's best when the leaves have felt the sting of frost, which brings out a pleasing sweetness. In purchasing it, you'll want leaves that aren't too long -- beyond 18 inches (50 cm) the leaves begin to toughen, and taste sharper -- firm, and fairly evenly colored and shaped: Darker areas are fine, but if you see paler green, brown, or yellow, or holes, think about buying something else.

    Italian Recipes with Kale:
    Ribollita & Minestra di Pane - Tuscan Ribollita
    Zuppa di Cavolo Nero su Fette di Pane, Kale Soup over Garlic Toasted Bread
    Polenta e Cavolo Nero, Polenta and Black Leaf Kale
    Farinata di Cavolo Nero, Kale Farinata
    More About Balck Leaf Kale, and More Italian Recipes With It

    And Elsewhere on About:
    Crispy Kale
    Kale Au Gratin Casserole
    Fat-Free Kale and Sweet Potato Soup
    Low Fat Tomato, Kale and White Bean Soup
    Collard Greens and Kale

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    Cavolo Verza

    A Head of Savoy Cabbage
    Savoy Cabbage, With its bubbly leaves A Head of Savoy Cabbage. © Kyle Phillips Licensed to About.Com

    If the Italian summer means tomatoes, eggplant and peppers, the Italian winter means cabbages, in all sorts of varieties. Though you will now find most every kind throughout the Peninsula, in the past they were (like everything else in Italy) regional, and in the North you would have found primarily head cabbages, both cavolo cappuccio, the smooth-leaved heads that can be either green or purple, and Cavolo Verza or Savoy cabbage, the green-to-purple headed cabbage people also refer to as Cavolo...MORE di Milano, with its bright, wrinkly, almost bubbly leaves. By comparison with dishes made with smooth-leafed cabbage, the texture of a dish made with Savoy cabbage feels airier, at least to me, because of the structure of the leaves, and I find I prefer it that way.

    When selecting Savoy cabbage, the standard rules for all leafy vegetables apply: the head should be firm, with nicely colored glossy leaves, and should feel heavy for its volume. If the leaves are dull, or the head feels light, it's likely past its prime. Once you get it home, it will keep several days in the crisper section of the refrigerator.

    From a dietetic standpoint head cabbages (not just Savoy) are low in calories (before they are seasoned), and rich in fiber, folic acid, vitamin C, vitamin B, and even richer in vitamin E, which makes them a good preventive against spontaneous abortions; they're also quite rich in calcium, and therefore indicated for those suffering from osteoporosis. They also contain antioxidants, and sulfur compounds that inhibit the growth of Helicobacter Pilori, one of the primary causes of stomach ulcers. In short, they're good for you, unless you're prone to kidney stones.

    Some Italian Savoy Cabbage Recipes:
    Verze e Luganega, Savoy Cabbage and Sausages
    Cavolo Verza in Umido, Stewed Savoy Cabbage
    Risi E Verze Alla Veneziana, Rice and Savoy Cabbage Venetian Style
    Verza Con Noci e Cipolle, Savoy Cabbage with Walnuts and Onions
    Minestra di Verze, Sausage and Savoy Cabbage Soup
    General Information on Savoy Cabbage and more Recipes

    Savoy Cabbage Elsewhere on About:
    Emmentaler and Savoy Cabbage Stuffed Potatoes
    Spicy Potatoes, Cabbage & Carrots
    Rumbledethumps
    Parsnip Soup with Corned Beef and Cabbage
    Ginger Sautéed Cabbage

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    Cavolo Verza: Savoy Cabbage, With its Bubbly Leaves

    A Cut Savoy Cabbage
    Freshly sliced for those who want less than a head A Cut Savoy Cabbage. © Kyle Phillips Licensed to About.Com

    If the Italian summer means tomatoes, eggplant and peppers, the Italian winter means cabbages, in all sorts of varieties. Though you will now find most every kind throughout the Peninsula, in the past they were (like everything else in Italy) regional, and in the North you would have found primarily head cabbages, both cavolo cappuccio, the smooth-leaved heads that can be either green or purple, and Cavolo Verza or Savoy cabbage, the green-to-purple headed cabbage people also refer to as Cavolo...MORE di Milano, with its bright, wrinkly, almost bubbly leaves. By comparison with dishes made with smooth-leafed cabbage, the texture of a dish made with Savoy cabbage feels airier, at least to me, because of the structure of the leaves, and I find I prefer it that way.

    When selecting Savoy cabbage, the standard rules for all leafy vegetables apply: the head should be firm, with nicely colored glossy leaves, and should feel heavy for its volume. If the leaves are dull, or the head feels light, it's likely past its prime. Once you get it home, it will keep several days in the crisper section of the refrigerator.

    From a dietetic standpoint head cabbages (not just Savoy) are low in calories (before they are seasoned), and rich in fiber, folic acid, vitamin C, vitamin B, and even richer in vitamin E, which makes them a good preventive against spontaneous abortions; they're also quite rich in calcium, and therefore indicated for those suffering from osteoporosis. They also contain antioxidants, and sulfur compounds that inhibit the growth of Helicobacter Pilori, one of the primary causes of stomach ulcers. In short, they're good for you, unless you're prone to kidney stones.

    Some Italian Savoy Cabbage Recipes:
    Verze e Luganega, Savoy Cabbage and Sausages
    Cavolo Verza in Umido, Stewed Savoy Cabbage
    Risi E Verze Alla Veneziana, Rice and Savoy Cabbage Venetian Style
    Verza Con Noci e Cipolle, Savoy Cabbage with Walnuts and Onions
    Minestra di Verze, Sausage and Savoy Cabbage Soup
    General Information on Savoy Cabbage and more Recipes

    Savoy Cabbage Elsewhere on About:
    California Coleslaw
    Farfalle with Savoy Cabbage, Pancetta, Thyme, and Mozzarella
    Basic Corned Beef Dinner
    Braised Cabbage
    Blasted Squid with Gingered Cabbage

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    Cime di Rapa

    Cime di Rapa, Broccoli Raab
    Or, Broccoli Raab Cime di Rapa, Broccoli Raab. Kyle Phillips Licensed to About.Com

    Broccoli Raab or Rapini (Brassica rapa var. cymosa), which are also known as cime di rapa in Italy, are a wilder member of the broccoli family with small, fairly loose florets intermingled among the leaves of the plant; by comparison with broccoli, broccoli raab are much leafier and one eats the entire plant. They first appear in Italian markets in late November/early December, and they persist through March, or even April if it stays cold.

    The best Italian broccoli raab are from Puglia and...MORE Campania, and are quite leafy, with slender stalks; in terms of flavor they are pungent in a turnipy sort of way (the word rapa means turnip), with pronounced mustard overtones. In the United States the D'Arrigo brothers, two Sicilians who pioneered the shipping of Californian vegetables to Boston in the 1920s, developed a variety with juicy stocks, many buds, and smaller leaves that they felt would appeal more to American consumers; by comparison with much Italian broccoli raab it's also more mildly flavored.

    Recipes, and More About Broccoli Raab:
    Orecchiette Pasta with Broccoli Rabe
    Rape Nfucate, Fiery Broccoli Rabe
    Broccoli Rapa Strascinati, Stir-fried Broccoli Raab
    More About Broccoli Raab & More Recipes


    Broccoli Raab Elsewhere on About:
    Sauteed Broccoli Rabe: Italian Grace
    Broccoli Raab With Yogurt & Cumin Seeds

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    Cipolle Bianche

    Cipolle Bianche, White Onions
    Summer Onions, in Tuscany Maggenghe and Giugnaiole Cipolle Bianche, White Onions. © Kyle Phillips, Licensed to About.Com

    Onions are perhaps the universal vegetable; they occur in almost every cuisine across the globe, and it comes as no surprise that they were one of the first vegetables to be planted: The Egyptians grew (and worshiped) them, the Israelites mourned their absence during the Exodus (Numbers 11:5), and the Romans, who consumed them avidly, made certain that they were readily available throughout the Empire.

    The Romans also considered onions to be curative. Correctly; they're mildly antiseptic, and...MORE are also one of the best sources of quercetin, a flavenoid (a type of antioxidant) that protects against a variety of ills, including cataracts, cardiovascular disease, and cancer; in addition, their organosulfer compounds help lower blood pressure and cholesterol, while the more pungent varieties also inhibit the platelet aggregation that is behind the formation of thromboses.

    In addition to all this they are low in calories (about 30 per 1/2 cup serving), and are a good source of vitamins C and B6. And they contain no fat.

    Italy, like almost every country, has a great variety of onions, most of which remain quite local and are eagerly enjoyed by the connoisseurs who happen to live where they are grown; the sweet purple-red onions of Tropea have achieved national renown but are an exception; for the most part what one finds in local markets is local. In Tuscany, this means the white maggenghe and giugnaiole shown here (the names derive from the months of May and June), during the late spring/summer, and vernine, onions that have dark purple outer layers, coming into season in late fall.

    More Italian Onions:
    General Onion Background, Info & Recipes
    Penne with Onion Sauce
    A Tomatoey Calabrian Onion Soup
    Onion Salad with Salted Sardines
    Frico with Onions

    Onions Elsewhere on About:
    Barbecued Onions
    Dairy Free Onion Quiche
    How to Caramelize Onions
    Caramelized Onion and Garlic Chicken

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    Cipolle Rosse: Red Onions

    Cipolle Rosse: Red Onions
    In Tuscany, These Onions Are Called Vernine Cipolle Rosse: Red Onions. © Kyle Phillips, Licensed to About.Com

    Onions are perhaps the universal vegetable; they occur in almost every cuisine across the globe, and it comes as no surprise that they were one of the first vegetables to be planted: The Egyptians grew (and worshiped) them, the Israelites mourned their absence during the Exodus (Numbers 11:5), and the Romans, who consumed them avidly, made certain that they were readily available throughout the Empire.

    The Romans also considered onions to be curative. Correctly; they're mildly antiseptic, and...MORE are also one of the best sources of quercetin, a flavenoid (a type of antioxidant) that protects against a variety of ills, including cataracts, cardiovascular disease, and cancer; in addition, their organosulfer compounds help lower blood pressure and cholesterol, while the more pungent varieties also inhibit the platelet aggregation that is behind the formation of thromboses.

    In addition to all this they are low in calories (about 30 per 1/2 cup serving), and are a good source of vitamins C and B6. And they contain no fat.

    Italy, like almost every country, has a great variety of onions, most of which remain quite local and are eagerly enjoyed by the connoisseurs who happen to live where they are grown; the sweet purple-red onions of Tropea have achieved national renown but are an exception; for the most part what one finds in local markets is local. In Tuscany, this means white maggenghe and giugnaiole (the names derive from the months of May and June), during the late spring/summer, and the vernine shown here, onions that have dark purple outer layers, and come into season in late fall.

    More Italian Onions:
    General Onion Background, Info & Recipes
    Supa de Scigol, a Cheesy Milanese Onion Soup
    Torta Pasqualina & Torta di Cipolle
    Onions Stuffed with Tuna Fish
    Onion Frittata

    Onions Elsewhere on About:
    Cinese Beef With Red Onions
    Onion Marmalade
    Spanish Fish with Onion Sauce
    Tofu with Steak Sauce and Onions

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    Cipolle di Tropea

    Cipolle di Tropea, Tropea Onions
    Sweet Onions, Much Like Vidalias Cipolle di Tropea, Tropea Onions. © Kyle Phillips, Licensed to About.Com

    Italy, like almost every country, has a great variety of onions, many of which remain quite local and are eagerly enjoyed by the connoisseurs who happen to live where they are grown. The sweet purple-red onions of Tropea (in Calabria) are an exception to this picture; they are for the most part enjoyed raw, in salads or orther preparations.

    Italian Onions:
    General Onion Background, Info & Recipes

    Sweet Onions Elsewhere on About:
    Sweeto Onion Recipes from the Southern US
    The Vidalia Onion Festival
    V...MOREidalia Tomato Salsa

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    Fagiolini

    Fagiolini: String Beans
    String, or Green Beans Fagiolini: String Beans. © Kyle Phillips, Licensed to About.Com

    String beans are one of the most popular summer vegetables in Italy.

    So popular that you may be surprised to discover they're from the Americas; According to Bert Greene they were brought home by the Spaniards, who initially used them as ornamental plants because they found the bean pods tough, but very much liked the flowers. However, the story goes, some string beans fell into a pot of soup and the cook didn't notice them until it was too late to start anew, so he served them along with...MORE everything else, and... As they say, the rest is history: String beans spread rapidly throughout Europe, and are now extremely popular. And healthy, too: A cup (250 ml, or about 125 g) is about 30 calories, with lots of potassium (180 milligrams), a fair amount of calcium and phosphorous, and a huge amount of vitamin A.

    More Italian String Beans:
    General Bean Background, Info & Recipes
    Bowtie Pasta Salad with Almonds, String beans, Feta and Tomatoes
    Fagiolini e Tonno in Insalata, String Bean and Tuna Salad
    Fagiolini in Umido, Stewed String Beans
    Graziella's Beef & String Bean Stew

    String Beans Elsewhere on About:
    Moroccan Green Bean Salad Recipe
    String Bean Salad Supreme
    Green Beans with French Fried Onions
    How to Cook Chinese Green Beans

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    Fagioli Serpenti

    Fagioli Serpenti, Tuscan Snake Beans
    Tuscan Snake Beans Fagioli Serpenti, Tuscan Snake Beans. © Kyle Phillips Licensed to About.Com

    Fagioli Serpenti are a Tuscan heirloom string bean; the word Serpente means snake and the reason for the name is obvious -- when they're harvested fagioli serpenti are 40-50 cm long, or about 18 inches.

    Fagioli Serpenti are also called fagioli stringa "string" beans, and fagioli asparagi, asparagus beans. Again, references to their length. Production of fagioli serpenti is limited to the Valdarno, between Arezzo, Florence, and Prato, and you'll find them in local vegetable markets...MORE (production is limited enough that they're more difficult to find in supermarkets) throughout the summer.

    Preparation is easy; trim the tips and then treat them as you would regular green or string beans. They're especially good stewed with tomato sauce, but can be used in almost any string bean recipe, and if you find the snakes too long, simply cut them up before you cook them.

    Like other string beans, fagioli serpenti are healthy: A cup (250 ml, or about 125 g) is about 30 calories, with lots of potassium (180 milligrams), a fair amount of calcium and phosphorous, and a huge amount of vitamin A.

    A few Italian recipes for string beans that will also work with fagioli serpenti:
    Trenette al Pesto, Pasta with pesto sauce, potatoes, and green beans
    Fagiolini alla Genovese, with salted anchovies and herbs
    Fagiolini e Tonno in Insalata, string bean and tuna salad
    Fagiolini in Umido, stewed string beans
    Graziella's Beef & String Bean Stew

    String Beans Elsewhere on About:
    Cooking Chinese Long Beans (which look very much like fagioli serpenti), to make Szechuan Green Beans
    Mixed Vegetable Salad with Coconut Dressing - Goedangan from Suriname
    Spicy Thai Stir-Fried Green Beans
    Indonesian Salad with Peanut Sauce – Gado Gado

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    Fava Bean Pods

    Fava Bean Pods
    One of the First Signs of Spring! Fava Bean Pods. © Kyle Phillips, Licensed to About.Com

    Though peas are the most unequivocal proof that spring is arriving, fresh Fava beans are one of the first things to appear in the markets after the winter's chill. They're distinctive, with a vegetal bitterness you will or will not like -- there's no middle ground -- and are wonderful served raw with chewy fresh Pecorino cheese.

    This is what you'll find in an Italian vegetable market: Bean pods that rather resemble pea pods in shape, but are longer and softer. Indeed, they feel...MORE rather spongy to the touch. To eat the fava beans, simply set the pods out on the table, with a wedge of Pecorino Toscano or Pecorino Sardo cheese (not Romano, which is too sharp -- in the absence of milder Pecorino I might even be tempted to try a mild cheddar). Break open the first pod and eat the beans, with an occasional nibble of cheese, and go from there.

    One important thing to know about Fava Beans is that they can cause Favism, a serious form of anemia, in people who lack a blood enzyme and thus suffer from a condition called Glucose-6-Phosphate Dehydrogenase Deficiency, or G6PD. In Italy about 0.5% of the population suffers from Favism, though some Sardinian villages have peaks as high as 30%, as do some Greek villages and some African populations. Symptoms begin 12-48 hours after eating the beans, with the victim feeling tired and becoming pale and jaundiced. Should this happen, take the victim to the hospital!

    More Fava Beans:
    An Abruzzese Fava Bean Soup with Peas and Artichokes
    Fava Bean and Beet Green Soup Recipe
    Polenta with Beans, Fava Beans, and Cabbage

    Fava Beans Elsewhere on About:
    How to Shell Fava Beans: Illustrated Instructions
    Fava Beans in The Middle Eastern Diet
    French Fava Beans with Bacon
    Fava Beans (Ful) with Salt and Cumin
    Marinated Fava Beans

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    Shelled Fava Beans

    Fava Beans and Cheese
    And Pecorino Cheese Fava Beans and Cheese. © Kyle Phillips Licensed to About.Com

    Once you get your fava beans home, they will keep for a couple of days in their pods in the crisper section of the refrigerator.

    Come time to eat them, if you're planning on enjoying them the classic Italian way, set the pods out in a mound on your dining room table, set out a wedge of mild, firm cheese -- Tuscans use pecorino toscano or pecorino sardo; Romano is too sharp -- some crusty bread, and gather round: Everybody cuts a piece of cheese, takes a handful of fava pods, and breaks open...MORE the first the way one might break open a regular bean pod to get at the fava beans.

    Alternate beans with nibbles of cheese and bread, and wash everything down with wine. Since fava beans have a slightly tannic bitterness to them, I find that a light crisp white works best, for example a Galestro (a Tuscan white developed to use the Trebbiano and Malvasia grapes that no longer go into Chianti), or a Frascati.

    More Fava Beans:
    An Abruzzese Fava Bean Soup with Peas and Artichokes
    Fava Bean and Beet Green Soup Recipe
    Polenta with Beans, Fava Beans, and Cabbage

    Fava Beans Elsewhere on About:
    How to Shell Fava Beans: Illustrated Instructions
    Fava Beans in The Middle Eastern Diet
    French Fava Beans with Bacon
    Fava Beans (Ful) with Salt and Cumin
    Marinated Fava Beans


    One important thing to know about Fava Beans is that they can cause Favism, a serious form of anemia, in people who lack a blood enzyme and thus suffer from a condition called Glucose-6-Phosphate Dehydrogenase Deficiency, or G6PD. In Italy about 0.5% of the population suffers from Favism, though some Sardinian villages have peaks as high as 30%, as do some Greek villages and some African populations. Symptoms begin 12-48 hours after eating the beans, with the victim feeling tired and becoming pale and jaundiced. Should this happen, take the victim to the hospital!

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    Fichi d'India

    Fichi D'India: Prickly Pears
    Prickly Pears Fichi D'India: Prickly Pears. © Kyle Phillips Licensed to About.Com

    If you go for a drive in the Italian countryside, from Tuscany on south, you will see, where there are sun-bleached stone walls and little else, broad-leafed cactuses with (if the season's right) prickly pears. The pears are good to eat, but harvesting them requires considerable care: In addition to the clearly evident spines and tufts of tiny spines, prickly pears are covered with hair-like horrors called glochids that penetrate the skin and smart terribly. The trick is to wear gloves when...MORE picking them, and lightly flame them before you peel them.

    Once you have peeled them, you should put the pulp though a food mill to eliminate the seeds, which are quite woody. Want to see how it's done? Christine gives detailed illustrated instructions.

    Having done all this, what does a peeled prickly pear taste like? Hank Shaw describes it as a "cross between bubble gum, watermelon and strawberries," and adds that they are completely lacking in acidity (even though they do contain a fair amount of vitamin C). So he suggests that whatever you do with them, you should add either citric acid or lemon juice to brighten the taste. Italians generally do.

    Got Prickly Pears? You Could Make:

    Marmellata di Fichi D'India, Prickly Pear Marmalade
    Prickly Pear Salad Dressing
    Festive Cactus Pear and Wine Jelly
    Prickly Pear Syrup
    Prickly Pears And Peach Drink With Mint, Frullato Di Fichi D'India E Pesche Con Menta
    Prickly Pear Granita

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    Fragole

    Fragole: Freshly Picked Strawberries!
    Freshly Picked Strawberries! Fragole: Freshly Picked Strawberries!. © Kyle Phillips, Licensed to About.Com

    Time was that strawberries were a rare treat, tiny bursts of flavor gathered in the forests when the conditions were right. And the best strawberries still are, in my opinion, the wild ones you occasionally come across as you hike in the woods. Problem is, they're so good the chances are you'll eat them on the spot.

    Fortunately for us, commercial growers have managed to develop varieties that can be raised. In Italy one of the most famous places for strawberries is Lago di Nemi, a crater...MORE lake in the Alban Hills overlooking Rome; the crater walls capture the warmth of the sun and because the crater rim is unbroken the basin is shielded from cool winds. They have a wonderful festival in June (on weekends), and if you ever visit Rome at that time of year you should definitely go; the lake has also yielded a spectacular Roman boat and has a naval museum. Unfortunately, Nemi's strawberries mostly end up in Rome.

    When you buy strawberries the standard cautions apply. The berries should be a vibrant, shiny scarlet and blemish free. If the tips are paler, or green, the berries are probably not ripe and could be tasteless. The berries should also look firm. If their color is dull and flat, or if they look dry and deflated, they may well be old. If you're buying a plastic vat of strawberries turn it over to check the berries underneath as well, because they easily become moldy. As a final check, sniff your strawberries: a heady rush of strawberry aromas should greet you. If you it does not, the chances are that the strawberries won't taste of much no matter how good they look.

    Some Italian Strawberry Recipes:
    Strawberry Risotto
    Strawberries with Balsamic Vinegar
    Strawberry Jam
    Strawberry Zuccotto
    Elisabetta's Strawberry Layer Cake
    Strawberry Sformato
    General Information on Strawberries and more Recipes

    Strawberries Elsewhere on About:
    Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie
    Meringue with Strawberries and Chocolate
    Eton Mess
    Mixed Fruit Kabab
    Strawberry-Rhubarb Crumb Cake

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    Finferli

    Finferli or Gallinacci: Chanterelle Mushrooms
    Or Gallinacci, or Galletti, or (In France) Chanterelles Finferli or Gallinacci: Chanterelle Mushrooms. © Kyle Phillips, Licensed to About.Com

    Finferli are fairly bright yellowish orange wild mushrooms that are known by a variety of names, including gallinacci or galletti in Italy, chanterelles in the U.S., and girolles in France. They're about 2 inches tall at the most, and their caps expand out of their stalks, rather like trumpet bells. Though they aren't too susceptible to worms, they absorb moisture readily, and you should therefore make certain that they're not waterlogged before you buy them. They dry well, and will...MORE keep for months after they have been dried, in a tightly closed jar.

    In terms of cooking, finferli require more than some other mushrooms, and this makes them a good bet with risotti and such. Come time to cook them, don't subject them to high heat because it will toughen them and drive out their flavor.

    In their absence, use mildly flavored wild mushrooms.

    A few Italian recipes with finferli:
    Risotto Giallo ai Finferli, Yellow Risotto with Finferli Mushrooms

    Fusilli con Finferli e Lenticchie, Corkscrews with Chanterelles and Lentils
    Quenelles di Polenta Bianca con Ragù di Finferli, Polenta Quenelles with a Finferli Sauce

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    Funghi Ovoli, Ovoli Mushrooms

    Ovoli Mushrooms (Amanita caesarea)
    Amanita caesarea Ovoli Mushrooms (Amanita caesarea). © Kyle Phillips Licensed to About.Com

    Don't let the appearance of these mushrooms sway you: Ovoli are perhaps the most eagerly sought out Italian mushroom. Though I have found recipes for grilled ovolo caps, which strike me as an example of wretched excess, one generally hears ovoli should be transformed into an Ovolo salad. Here is a quick recipe:

    300 g (2/3 pound) Ovoli mushrooms
    The yolk of a hard-boiled egg
    1 tablespoon minced parsley
    A salted anchovy, boned and rinsed
    1 clove garlic, crushed in a garlic press to extract its...MORE juice
    6 tablespoons extravirgin olive oil
    The juice of half a lemon
    Salt to taste

    Brush all traces of dirt from the msurooms with a soft cloth. Finely slice them lentghwise and arrange several slices in a fan pattern on each diner's plate.

    Mince the parsely and rinsed, boned anchovy together. Mash the yolk with the back of a fork. Combine the yolk, parsely and anchovy in a small bowl and stir in the olive oil, lemon juice, and garlic juice. Season the sauce to taste with salt, and beat it until it is well emulsified, a few minutes. Spoon the sauce over the mushrooms and serve as an elegant antipasto.

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    A Fresh Porcino

    A Fresh Porcino Mushroom
    The Ultimate Mushroom A Fresh Porcino Mushroom. © Kyle Phillips, licensed to About.com

    Il Fungo Porcino, Boletus edulis, is one of God's great gifts to humanity: a rich, heady, meaty mushroom that is amazingly versatile, delicate enough to give grace to an elegant stew or sauce, and yet vigorous enough to stand up to something as flavorful as a thick grilled steak accompanied by a good Brunello or Barolo.

    Porcini even look the way a mushroom should: A corpulent firm white stalk and a broad dark brown cap -- if you're out walking in a European forest and come across a clump...MORE under a chestnut tree, where they're often found, you may well think you've stumbled into a fairy tale and look about for gnomes. Of course most of us don't have the time, nor the expertise required to go mushroom hunting.

    So we buy our fresh porcini at the market (according to Epicurious, fresh porcini can be found in North America also, while Barbara Kafka says the French call them Cèpes, the Germans Steinpilz or Herrenpilz, and the Russians Belyi Grib, and that they may appear under any of these names).

    They should be firm, with opulent white stalks and proudly brown caps in perfect order, not nicked or broken. If the undersides of the caps have a yellowish-brown tinge to them the mushrooms are heading into overripeness, and if they have black spots on them or the undercaps are deep green they've arrived. The other thing you should beware of in a tired mushroom is signs of worms.

    A last note: Tuscan cooks season porcini with nipetella, a slightly minty, woodsy variety of thyme. In other parts of Italy parsley is used instead; I personally prefer the nipitella because it adds considerable grace to the mushrooms. Feel free to use either, but do give thyme a try.

    A few Italian recipes with porcini:
    Risotto with Porcini
    Veal Wallets Stuffed with Porcini
    Porcini Trifolati & Other Ideas
    Pasta alla Boscaiola
    Turkey Drumsticks Stuffed With Porcini
    More about Porcini and other Italian recipes

    Elsewhere on About:
    Wild Mushroom Lasagna

    Wild Mushroom Soup
    Veal Ragout with Cepes and Sage
    Mushroom Strudel
    Porcini Fondue
    Trio of Wild Mushrooms Soup

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    Porcini Freschi

    Porcini Freschi: Fresh Porcini Mushrooms
    Fresh Porcini Mushrooms Porcini Freschi: Fresh Porcini Mushrooms. © Kyle Phillips, licensed to About.com

    Il Fungo Porcino, Boletus edulis, is one of God's great gifts to humanity: a rich, heady, meaty mushroom that is amazingly versatile, delicate enough to give grace to an elegant stew or sauce, and yet vigorous enough to stand up to something as flavorful as a thick grilled steak accompanied by a good Brunello or Barolo.

    Porcini even look the way a mushroom should: A corpulent firm white stalk and a broad dark brown cap -- if you're out walking in a European forest and come across a clump...MORE under a chestnut tree, where they're often found, you may well think you've stumbled into a fairy tale and look about for gnomes. Of course most of us don't have the time, nor the expertise required to go mushroom hunting.

    So we buy our fresh porcini at the market (according to Epicurious, fresh porcini can be found in North America also, while Barbara Kafka says the French call them Cèpes, the Germans Steinpilz or Herrenpilz, and the Russians Belyi Grib, and that they may appear under any of these names).

    They should be firm, with opulent white stalks and proudly brown caps in perfect order, not nicked or broken. If the undersides of the caps have a yellowish-brown tinge to them the mushrooms are heading into overripeness, and if they have black spots on them or the undercaps are deep green they've arrived. The other thing you should beware of in a tired mushroom is signs of worms.

    A last note: Tuscan cooks season porcini with nipetella, a slightly minty, woodsy variety of thyme. In other parts of Italy parsley is used instead; I personally prefer the nipitella because it adds considerable grace to the mushrooms. Feel free to use either, but do give thyme a try.

    A few Italian recipes with porcini:
    Risotto with Porcini
    Stretching Porcini
    Porcini Trifolati & Other Ideas
    Pasta alla Boscaiola
    A Porcino Sformato
    More about Porcini and other Italian recipes

    Elsewhere on About:
    Wild Mushroom Lasagna

    Brown Rice Risotto with Asparagus and Porcini Mushrooms
    Veal Ragout with Cepes and Sage
    Mushroom Strudel
    Porcini Fondue
    Trio of Wild Mushrooms Soup

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    Porcini Secchi

    Dried Porcini Mushrooms. Dan Chippendale/Getty Images

    Fresh porcini mushrooms are wonderful, but they’re only available after a period of rains, and (usually) only in autumn or winter. During the rest of the year the only option is dried, and though you can buy a smaller packet, on the order of a half ounce (10 g), which will be sufficient for a single dish, say a risotto, I generally find the mushrooms in larger packets to be more flavorful.

    How to keep the excess? Dried mushrooms abhor damp, so the best option is to put them in a plastic bag and...MORE put them in the freezer. They’ll keep indefinitely, and when you need some you simply remove them from the bag and steep them as usual.

    To prepare dried porcini, steep them in warm water for about 15 minutes. Then drain them, reserving the liquid, and chop them. They are now ready for use, and you can also add the liquid to the pot, though you should strain it first because it may contain sand.

    Dried porcini are quite flavorful, and can be used to substitute for fresh porcini in almost any recipe in which the mushrooms are an ingredient (even a major ingredient), but not the mainstay of the dish. In other words, risotto, pasta sauces that include mushrooms and other ingredients, stews, and braised dishes.

    A few Italian recipes with dried porcini:
    Risotto ai Funghi Porcini
    Turkey Drumsticks Stuffed With Porcini, Fusi Ripieni ai Porcini
    Pappardelle Pasta With Mushroom Sauce, or Pappardelle alla Boscaiola
    Risotto with Chicken, or Risotto Con il Pollo
    Canederli ai Funghi Porcini, Porcini Knodel
    Stretching Porcini

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    Funghi Coltivati

    Funghi Coltivati: Champignons
    Champignons, or Button Mushrooms, or White Mushrooms... Funghi Coltivati: Champignons. © Kyle Phillips, Licensed to About.Com

    Many Italian recipes call for wild mushrooms, in particular porcini, finferli and ovoli. However, these mushrooms are all strongly flavored, and tend to take center stage. While this is fine in, say, a mushroom risotto, it's not so good in a delicate chicken with mushooms, and in these cases Italians turn to Agaricus bisporus, the classic cultivated mushroom known the world over as Champignons. Because of their mildness they work very well in sauces and fillings in which one wants the...MORE mushrooms to contribute, but not predominate the way more flavorful wild mushrooms might.

    Given their popularity, it comes as no surprise that champignons have many English names. When they are young they can be known as button mushrooms or white mushrooms. When they are older (and larger), their flesh darkens and they are known, among other things, as crimini mushrooms or baby portobellos. When they are mature, they are called portobellos, and are much more flavorful than the young white champignons, to the point that the two are not really interchangeable.

    When selecting champignons, make certain they are firm and show no signs of discoloration. Though they will keep for a couple of days in the crisper section of the refrigerator, they are best used as soon as possible. To prepare them wipe the dirt off the stems and trim the roots if necessary. Only wash them if you absolutely must, because exposure to water waterlogs them.

    A last thing: Though the champignons you will find in a market will be cultivated, you may find champignons in the wild too. Be careful not to confuse small champignons with members of the ammanita family, which can also be white (and deadly), but have a volva, or cup from which the stem emerges.

    Italian Recipes With Champignons:
    Sicilian Arancini with Mushroom Filling, Arancini ai Funghi
    Spiny Lobster Basket, Cestino all'Aragosta
    Rice with Turkey, Mushrooms, and Peppers, Riso con Tacchino, Funghi, e Peperoni
    Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms with a Lightly Browned Cheese Sauce
    Penne with Mushroom and String Bean Sauce, Penne Funghi e Fagiolini

    Champignons Elsewhere On About:
    British Chicken, Leek and Mushroom Pie
    Pot Roast with Mushrooms and Red Wine
    Polish Fillet of Cod Stuffed with Mushrooms
    Stuffed Mushrooms with Pancetta and Sun-dried Tomatoes
    Chicken Fricassee with Mushrooms and Dill Dumplings
    Creamy Mushroom Soup

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    Lattuga Iceberg

    Lattuga Iceberg: Iceberg Lettuce
    Iceberg Lettuce Lattuga Iceberg: Iceberg Lettuce. © Kyle Phillips Licensed to About.Com

    Iceberg Lettuce enjoys a certain ill repute among some elements of the food population, and in the case of the heads one finds wrapped in plastic in supermarkets it may be deserved. However, one can also grow iceberg lettuce in one's vegetable patch, or purchase them from a local market, at which point they can be rather nice -- bland, with none of the bitterness one finds in some radicchios and wild salad greens, and therefore easier to pair with foods, or to convince people who really...MORE don't like that bitternes (children, especially) to eat.

    The other positive thing about Iceberg lettuce is that it is very low in calories, and also filling. In other words, it's good thing to eat when on a diet.

    As a general rule, Italians add Iceberg Lettuce to Insalata Verde, tossed green salads, or at the most use them in insalate miste, green salads with tomatoes, carrots, radishes and similar, in either case dressed with olive oil, vinegar, and salt (no pepper, usually).

    Iceberg Lettuce Elsewhere on About:
    BLT: A Classic American Sandwich
    Thai Lettuce Wraps
    Iceberg Wedge Salad

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    Lattuga Romana

    Lattuga Romana: Romaine Lettuce
    Romaine Lettuce Lattuga Romana: Romaine Lettuce. © Kyle Phillips Licensed to About.Com

    Lattuga Romana, Romaine lettuce in English, is said to have been introduced to Europe through Rome, a very long time ago. The French call it Laitue Romaine, from hence its English name. It is low in calories, and rich in vitamins K, A and C; it also has significant amounts of a number of other vitamins and minerals, and is rich in fiber. In short, it's good for you.

    As a general rule, Italians add add Romaine lettuce to salads, either Insalata Verde, tossed green salads, or to insalate miste, ...MOREgreen salads with tomatoes, carrots, raddishes and similar, in either case dressed with olive oil, vinegar, and salt (no pepper, usually).

    Romaine lettuce can also be cooked, rather like radicchio, and because of the shape of the leaves is well suited for making wraps.

    Romaine Lattuce Elsewhere on About:
    Blue Cheese with Grilled Romaine
    Pomegranate Romaine Salad
    Avocado and Romaine Salad
    Caesar Salad
    Romaine Lettuce Nutritional Information

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    Lattughe Rosse e Verdi

    Lattughe Rosse e Verdi: Red and Green Salads
    Red and Green lettuces to add color and flavor to salad. Lattughe Rosse e Verdi: Red and Green Salads. © Kyle Phillips Licensed to About.Com

    Lattughe Rosse e Verdi translates as Red and Green Lettuces.

    If you visit an Italian market, you will find, in addition to the various heads of lettuce such as Iceberg or Romaine, a great many salad greens, some picked in the fields and others grown in vegetable patches.

    I found this box labeled Lattughe Rosse e Verdi in Florence's Mercato di Sant'Ambrogio. Pretty, and they do add color and flavor to a tossed salad.

    A few more primarily Non-Italian Salad Greens

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    Lenticchie di Mormanno

    Lenticchie di Mormanno, from Calabria
    Calabrian Heirloom Lentils Lenticchie di Mormanno, from Calabria. © Kyle Phillips, Licensed to About.Com

    Time was, one bought legumes and other dried foods such as rice from a civaiolo, who had 100-pound sacks of all sorts of things he'd scoop into brown paper bags and sell by weight. Now, lentils are sold primarily in 1-pound (500 g) packets in supermarkets or specialty stores (which have organic and heirloom lentils). But if you visit the city's central market chances are you will find one or two civaioli with their sacks.

    If you buy them in the summer months you should only buy what you...MORE need, because bugs can easily infest them. During the winter they seem to keep better.

    From a nutritional standpoint, they're rich in iron and are consequently ideal for people suffering from anemia, and are rich in fiber too. .

    The lentils shown here are Lenticchie di Mormanno, an heirloom cultivar from Mormanno, a town in the mountains between Basilicata and Calabria; they are grown at an elevation of about 900 meters, traditionally in marginal lands not suited for cash crops, and harvested for family use, but are now being planted in fields as well. Cultivation is organic, with not much in the way of fertilizers and no pesticides, and the harvest, from sun-dried plants, is in August.

    Lenticchie di Mormanno are of the minus, or microsperma strain, which produces smaller seeds, and they are somewhat more delicately flavored than the larger lentils of the heimal strain.

    Got lentils (of either strain)? A few ideas:
    Lentils with Oranges, Lenticchie all'Arancia
    Lentils with Speck, Lenticchie con lo Speck
    Lenticchi, Calabrian Lentils
    Pasta with Lentils, Pasta e Lenticchie
    Lentil Soup with Rice and Spinach, Minestra di Riso con Lenticchie e Spinaci
    About Lentils

    Lentils Elsewhere on About:
    Daal, a collection of Indian Lentil Recipes
    Slow Cooker Lentils
    Crock Pot Curried Rice and Lentils
    Barbecue Lentils

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    Melanzane

    Melanzane: Eggplant
    Eggplant, or Aubergines Melanzane: Eggplant. © Kyle Phillips, Licensed to About.Com

    In introducing eggplant in La Scienza in Cucina a little more than a century ago, Pellegrino Artusi said the vegetable was hard to find in Florentine markets when he was young (the 1830s), and that most people hesitated to try it because it was "Jewish food" - in other words, something foreign. This comment would certainly come as a surprise to most Italians today, and would likely have surprised at least half the population even then: Eggplant was, and is, one of the most prominent...MORE staples of Southern Italian cooking.

    In partial defense of Artusi one might note that the eggplant was imported from afar and initially used as an ornamental plant whose fruits were viewed with suspicion; Melanzana, the Italian for Eggplant, derives from Mela Insana, or "noxious apple." Presumably those living in the south began eating it sooner because it grows better there than the north, or perhaps because hunger drove them to try it. In any case, eggplant comes in a wide range of shapes and sizes, from spherical to cylindrical, and from tiny to enormous. Smaller eggplant tend to be milder in flavor, while larger ones can have bitter overtones, which can be leached out by sprinkling the sliced eggplant with salt and letting it sit for a while in a colander. You will probably want to salt the eggplant in any case to remove some moisture, because eggplants become quite watery otherwise during cooking. In terms of what size to use, this depends upon what you are doing. If the eggplant is to be sliced or chopped, you can use smaller ones, whereas if you are planning to stuff your eggplant, you will want larger ones.

    In terms of volume, a pound (500 g) of eggplant is equivalent to 3 cups diced.

    Some italian Eggplant Recipes:
    Spaghetti alla Norma: with Tomatoes and Eggplant
    Baked Eggplant with Olives
    Scapece (Neapolitan Marinated) Eggplant
    Melanzane in Carrozza, Neapolitan Fried Mozzarella and Eggplant
    Eggplant Parmesan

    Eggplant Elsewhere on About:
    Khatta Meetha Baingan (sweet-sour eggplant)
    Ratatouille
    Lamb Shanks With Eggplant and Thyme
    Tabasco Spiced Eggplant Cutlets
    Bulgarian Eggplant-Pepper Spread Recipe (Kiopoolu)
    Pork and Eggplant Stew (Carne de Cerdo Guisada con Berenjena)

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    Melanzane a Strisce

    Striped Eggplant, in Florence's Mercato di San Lorenzo
    Striped Eggplant, in Florence's Mercato di San Lorenzo Striped Eggplant, in Florence's Mercato di San Lorenzo. © Kyle Phillips, Licensed to About.Com

    Eggplant are native to India and the Far East, and though the standard European eggplant is a uniform purple in color, there are many other cultivars that grow in a variety of colors. Which are starting to appear in Italian markets; this striped eggplant is from the Mercato di San Lorenzo in Florence. Smaller eggplant tend to be milder in flavor, while larger ones can have bitter overtones, which can be leached out by sprinkling the sliced eggplant with salt and letting it sit for a while in a...MORE colander. You will probably want to salt the eggplant in any case to remove some moisture, because eggplants become quite watery otherwise during cooking. In terms of what size to use, this depends upon what you are doing. If the eggplant is to be sliced or chopped, you can use smaller ones, whereas if you are planning to stuff your eggplant, you will want larger ones.

    In terms of volume, a pound (500 g) of eggplant is equivalent to 3 cups diced.

    Some italian Eggplant Recipes:
    Spaghetti alla Norma: with Tomatoes and Eggplant
    Baked Eggplant with Olives
    Scapece (Neapolitan Marinated) Eggplant
    Melanzane in Carrozza, Neapolitan Fried Mozzarella and Eggplant
    Eggplant Parmesan

    Eggplant Elsewhere on About:
    Khatta Meetha Baingan (sweet-sour eggplant)
    Ratatouille
    Lamb Shanks With Eggplant and Thyme
    Tabasco Spiced Eggplant Cutlets
    Bulgarian Eggplant-Pepper Spread Recipe (Kiopoolu)
    Pork and Eggplant Stew (Carne de Cerdo Guisada con Berenjena)

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    Petonciani: Tuscan For Melanzane

    Petonciani: Eggplant From A Tuscan Vegetable Patch
    In English: Eggplant, or Aubergines Petonciani: Eggplant From A Tuscan Vegetable Patch. © Kyle Phillips Licensed to About.Com

    Petonciano (plural petonciani) is an old Tuscan term for eggplant, and seems fitting for these eggplants from Giovanna, Bruno, and Giancarlo's vegetable garden in Versilia, on the Tuscan coast.

    In introducing eggplant in La Scienza in Cucina a little more than a century ago, Pellegrino Artusi said the vegetable was hard to find in Florentine markets when he was young (the 1850s), and that most people abhorred because it was "Jewish food," and went on to say, "this goes to show...MORE that Jews, in this matter as in others more important, have always been sharper than Christians." The nod to Jewish culture & taste was removed from his book by the Fascists, while north Italy's suspicion of eggplant in Artusi's day would likely have surprised those in the South because there it played (and plays) an extremely important role. For that matter, eggplant is now popular in the North too.

    In partial defense of the North one might note that the eggplant was imported from afar and initially used as an ornamental plant whose fruits were viewed with suspicion; Melanzana, the Italian for Eggplant, either derives from Mela Insana ("noxious apple") or is a combination of mela and the Arabic badingan. Presumably those living in the south began eating it sooner because it grows better there than the north, or perhaps because hunger drove them to try it. In any case, eggplant comes in a wide range of shapes and sizes. Smaller eggplant tend to be milder in flavor, while larger ones can have bitter overtones, which can be leached out by sprinkling the sliced eggplant with salt and letting it sit for a while in a colander. You will probably want to salt the eggplant in any case to remove some moisture, because eggplants become quite watery otherwise during cooking. In terms of what size to use, this depends upon what you are doing. If the eggplant is to be sliced or chopped, you can use smaller ones, whereas if you are planning to stuff your eggplant, you will want larger ones.

    In terms of volume, a pound (500 g) of eggplant is equivalent to 3 cups diced.

    Some italian Eggplant Recipes:
    Eggplant Parmesan: The Classic Neapolitan Recipe
    A Lighter Version of Eggplant Parmesan
    Eggplant and Spaghetti Timballo
    Stuffed Eggplant with Tomato Sauce
    Rice and Eggplant Soup

    Eggplant Elsewhere on About:
    Baba Ghanoush
    Stuffed Eggplant Dip (Parve)
    Vegetarian Thai Red Curry with Eggplant
    Spicy Szechuan Eggplant
    American Eggplant Parmesan Casserole
    Roasted Eggplant Hummus

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    Mele Golden e Gala

    Mele Golden e Gala: Golden Delicious & Gala Apples
    Golden Delicious & Gala Apples Mele Golden e Gala: Golden Delicious & Gala Apples. © Kyle Phillips Licensed to About.Com

    Italy is a major apple producer, one of the top five worldwide. The region most Italians associate with apples is the Val di Non, in Trentino. It's not alone, however: Apples are also grown in Emilia Romagna, the Veneto, Piemonte, and Campagna. The crop begins in August and continues on through spring. As is the case elsewhere, most of the commercial production concentrates on a tiny fraction of the roughly 7,000 known strains of apples, and if you visit an Italian market you will likely...MORE find (depending on season) Granny Smiths, Goldens, Golden Delicious, Starks, Renettes, Gravensteins, or Galas. And, if you are lucky, some autochthonous strains as well -- farmers are looking at them with renewed interest.

    In modern Italian cooking apples generally appear at the end of the meal, either in the bowl of fresh that closes the average every-day meal, or in a cake prepared for a special occasion, and this is especially true for the cultivars pictured here. Golden Delicious apples are one of the classic eating apples, while the red Galas are a more recent addition to the Apple Pantheon (at least in Italy), and have become extremely popular.

    I find the best use for both of these apples is to close a meal, perhaps with a wedge of cheese -- Cheddar, if you have it, or something along the lines of Fontina if you want Italian.

    Italian Apple Recipes:
    Apple Pudding,Budino Di Mele
    Baked Stuffed Apples, Mele Cotte Ripiene
    Apples in Syrup, Mele Sciroppate
    Apple or Pear Pie with Pecorino, Torta di Mele o Pere al Pecorino
    Baked Apples, Mele al Forno
    Apples Simmered in Wine, Mele Cotte col Vino

    Apples Elsewhere On About:
    Gluten-Free Apple Pie
    Carrot Apple Ginger Soup
    Caramel Apple Pie
    Apple and Leek Salad
    Sauerkraut and Apples
    Apple Varieties, From "Arkansas Black Apples" to "Winesap Apples"

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    Mele Renette

    Mele Renette: Gray Pippin Apples or Perhaps Gray Pearmain Apples
    Gray Pippin Apples or Perhaps Gray Pearmain Apples Mele Renette: Gray Pippin Apples or Perhaps Gray Pearmain Apples. © Kyle Phillips Licensed to About.Com

    Though people do eat mele renette raw, they are primarily baking apples, and are rather tart, with slightly lemony acidity, and grainy, almost mealy, in texture. They're also quite good, and one of the more eagerly awaited apples each fall. Much of the Italian production comes from Trentino Alto Adige, and in particular the Val di Non (one of Europe's most important apple-producing areas), though the renette shown here were from Emilia Romagna.

    To be honest, I'm not sure what renette...MORE are called in English -- web searches have suggested that they may be Gray Pippins, or perhaps Gray Pearmains. In their absence, use the baking apples available where you live.

    Italian recipes with Renette:
    Chicken Salad with Renette Apples
    Boned Roast Pork Loin With Apples, Arista Disossata alle Mele
    Roast Lamb with Horseradish Sauce, Agnello Col Rafano
    Apple Fritters, Frittelle di Mele
    Baked Apples, Mele al Forno
    Apples Simmered in Wine, Mele Cotte col Vino

    Renette (or Baking Apples) Elsewhere On About:
    Baked Apples
    Apple Baked Beans
    Citrus-Rubbed Roast Goose with Baked Gingery Apples in Calvados
    Janet's Easy Apple Dumplings
    Apple Crisp
    Apple Varieties, From "Arkansas Black Apples" to "Winesap Apples"

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    Melograni

    Melograni: Pomegranates
    Pomegranates, Fruit of Death (and Life) Melograni: Pomegranates. © Kyle Phillips Licensed to About.Com

    According to legend, as Persephone was leaving the Underworld, Hades, who really did love her, offered her a pomegranate from one of the trees in his garden. She ate some seeds and his joy knew no bounds: Those who eat the fruits of Death can never return to life.

    And so Persephone's mother Demeter remained in mourning, the plants continued to die, and the people to starve. Finally Zeus hammered out a compromise: Persephone would live with her husband a month for every seed she had eaten, and...MORE then return to the surface until next year. Demeter took off her sackcloth, the plants began to grow, and now we have seasons.

    Pomegranates are not just associated with Death, however. Within their hard rosy brown skins they contain hundreds of seeds, and thus people also associate them with fertility and good fortune. For that matter, Persephone isn't just a Dark Lady either -- her departure each fall may bring winter, but her return in the spring brings with it a rush of new life.

    The seeds of a pomegranate may make for -- and symbolize -- fertility, but they also make eating the pomegranate a rather difficult chore. Each woody seed is surrounded by a little bit of bright red pulp, rather like a free-standing berry, and therefore, unless you like the seeds, there can be quite a bit of spitting involved. For this reason recipes frequently say to extract the juice and set aside a number of seeds to use as a garnish.

    In buying pomegranates, select larger ones because they will be juicier. Making pomegranate juice is easier than you might think: Trim away the rind from the top and bottom of the pomegranate, then cut it into sections as you would an orange. Pull away the seeds, discarding the pith, and squeeze them in a potato ricer, filtering the juice if necessary. In doing this, be careful, because the juice stains.

    A few Italian pomegranates recipes:
    Lemon Risotto with Pomegranate Seeds

    Veal Cutlets with Pomegranate Sauce
    Roast Beef with Pomegranate Sauce
    Guinea Hen with Pomagranite Sauce
    Elsewhere on About:
    Pomegranates and the Jewish New Year
    Pomegranate Martini
    Pomegranate Cake
    Pomegranate Lentil Soup

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    Mikawa

    Mikawa, A Cross Between Mandaranci & Grapefruit
    Miyagawa Mikawa, A Cross Between Mandaranci & Grapefruit. © Kyle Phillips, Licensed to About.Com

    If you drive out into the country from just about any place south of Rome you'll soon find yourself surrounded by citrus groves: Oranges, bitter oranges, lemons, tangerines, clementines, grapefruit... And, since citrus fruit easily cross breed, new developments such as the Miyagawa, which is, as its name suggests, Japanese: A cross between grapefruit and clementines or mandaranci.

    Miyagawa have proven well suited to the flanks of Mount Etna, where they ripen in early September, and are...MORE therefore among the first citrus fruit to arrive in the markets in the fall. They are thin skinned, elegantly perfumed, and quite tart, and make for very nice eating, especially at the close of a rich meal. If you like tartness in a salad, you could sliver the sections and add them, but you have to like bright, tart salads.

    They are also nice to snack on. Their one defect? The season is, alas, very short.

    Last thing: Miyagawa is a foreign word, and if you visit a vegetable market don't be surprised by alternative spellings. The Miagawa pictured here were labeled Mikawa, and I have also seem Micaua and Migawa.

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    Noci

    Noci: Walnuts
    Italians Have Been Enjoying Walnuts For Millennia Noci: Walnuts. © Kyle Phillips, Licensed to About.Com

    Walnuts are said to have originated somewhere to the east -- perhaps China or India, many millions of years ago (fossil forms have been found in Miocene sediments) -- but have long been popular in Europe as well: The Romans greatly enjoyed them, especially at the end of the meal (as do modern Italians), and they have always played an important role in desserts, either as toppings (chopped or whole) or as principal ingredients. They also occur in savory dishes, though less often, and until the...MORE ready availability of olive oil (after WW II) the Piemontese considered walnut oil to be the finest oil for dressing salads.

    Walnuts grow in many parts of Italy. The best are from Sorrento; they're somewhat darker than the California walnuts one also finds in Italian markets, and have a somewhat sharper, more walnutty flavor.

    Walnuts are (alas) rather perishable -- the oil in the nutmeats becomes rancid with time -- so you are better off buying smaller amounts as you need them rather than a big bag on sale. A pound of unshelled walnuts will yield a half-pound of nutmeats.

    Italian Recipes with Walnuts:
    Salsa Con Le Noci Per Ravioli, Walnut Sauce Recipe for Ravioli
    Pasta Corta con Salmone e Noci, Short Pasta with Salmon and Walnuts
    Minestra di Noci, Walnut Soup
    Polpette di Noci, Walnut Croquettes Recipe
    Insalata alle Noci, Walnut Salad
    Zucchine con le Noci, Zucchini with Walnuts
    More About Walnuts, and More Italian Recipes With Walnuts
    About Walnut Oil, A Traditional Seasoning Of Choice In The North

    And Elsewhere on About:
    Chopped Walnut Coffee Cake
    Whole Cranberry Relish with Walnuts
    Chinese Walnut Chicken Breasts
    Chocolate Walnut Fudge
    Cherry Walnut Coffee Bread

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    Odori: Scents, or Herbs

    Odori: Scents, or Herbs (Sage, Rosemary, Parsley, Garlic)
    Sage, Rosemary, Parsley, and Garlic Odori: Scents, or Herbs (Sage, Rosemary, Parsley, Garlic). © Kyle Phillips, Licensed to About.Com

    The Italian word for herbs is odori, or scents, and if you buy your produce from a vegetable stand, the greengrocer will usually slip a few herbs into your bag before handing it to you -- if you're cooking with moist heat (e.g. making sugo alla bolognese, broth, or a stew) said herbs may include carrot, onion, celery, and parsley. If you're roasting, on the other hand, you're certain to find sage, and rosemary. Garlic one asks for, because not all people like garlic. But here we have...MORE it (in the lower right), together with parsley, rosemary and sage.

    Some Italian Recipes With The Herbs Shown Here:
    Lamb alla Cacciatora
    Kale Farinata
    L'Arrosto Morto, a Dry Pot Roast
    Rabbit with Olives and Beer
    Tagliatelle with Lamb Ragu
    Vittorio's Grilled Chicken

    And Elsewhere on About:
    Pan-Roasted Lamb (Abbacchio)
    Cornish Hens Italiano
    Roast Chicken With Bacon and Sage
    Apple Cider and Sage Dressing Recipe
    General Notes on Seasoning Heart Healthy Foods

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    Patate

    Patate: Generic Potatoes
    The Potatoes You'll Find in Most Italian Markets Patate: Generic Potatoes. © Kyle Phillips, Licensed to About.Com

    Potatoes are nutritious: As one might expect, they're an excellent source of carbohydrates, but they also have high-quality proteins that contain all the essential amino acids, as well as vitamins C and B1, thiamin, and potassium. Moreover, an unseasoned potato has about the same amount of calories as a similarly sized apple, and when they're served plain they're helpful in controlling obesity because they're filling.

    Potatoes come in many varieties. For gnocchi, mashed potatoes...MORE (which are very common in Italy), fries (another very common fixture of the Italian table, despite they're being called French Fries in English), and dishes in which the potatoes are riced and then used as an ingredient you'll need mealy potatoes, which are high in starch and are also known as bakers; if you are instead planning on boiling them, putting them in a stew, or using them in salads and such, you will want waxy potatoes with a low starch content, which are also known as boilers.

    The simplest Italian use for potatoes is Patate alla Ghiotta, which draw their name from the ghiotta, the pan used to capture the drippings from a roast: Peel your potatoes, dice them, and slip them into the roasting pan when you're oven-roasting a chicken or pork (in particular ribs, loin, and sausages); salt them and turn them occasionally. They'll absorb the drippings from the meats (boilers are ideal here) and emerge extraordinarily tasty. When to add them? About 45 minutes before the meat is done.

    A Few More Italian Potato Recipes:
    Patate Fritte alla Romanesca, Roman Fried Potatoes
    Ravioli di Patate e Salsiccia, Potato and Sausage Ravioli
    Patate al Forno alla Lucana, Lucanian Baked Potatoe Casserole
    Patate Pasticciate, Piemontese Potato Casserole
    More About Potaotes, and More Italian Potato Recipes

    And Elsewhere on About:
    Grilling Potatoes
    Smashed Potatoes
    Mum's Clam Chowder
    Bavarian Potato Dumplings
    Health(ier) Thick-Cut Fries (Friet)

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    Peperoni Gialli e Rossi

    Peperoni Gialli e Rossi: Yellow and Red Bell Peppers
    Yellow and Red Bell Peppers Peperoni Gialli e Rossi: Yellow and Red Bell Peppers. © Kyle Phillips, Licensed to About.Com

    Peppers are natives of the New World brought home by the Spaniards. We're fortunate that they did; while the tomato is perhaps the vegetable (fruit, actually) that people most associate with Italian cooking, life would be dull and dreary without peppers: Hotter peppers to liven things up and provide zing (they're used extensively in the South, especially Puglia and Calabria), and the milder, sweeter bell peppers in all sorts of recipes.

    To prepare a bell pepper, cut around the stem, which...MORE you may want to keep to use as a cap if you'll be stuffing the pepper, shake out the seeds and discard them, and peel away the white part of the ribs using a paring knife (insert it into the hole if you're keeping the peppers whole, or after you have cut them into strips if you're cutting them into strips). Even though bell peppers are nominally sweet, their ribs can pack a fiery wallop, so be careful to wash you hands well with soap before you touch anything else (e.g. your eyes) once you have finished cutting them. If the recipe you are following suggests you peel your peppers, put them under a broiler, turning them often, until they blister, then scrape away the skins (if you've already cut them into strips broil them skin side up).

    Incidentally, the Italian for bell pepper is peperone, which becomes peperoni in the plural. Hot peppers are called peperoncini (little peppers) in standard Italian, though they take on a host of names in various dialects (e.g. zenzero, which actually means ginger, in Tuscany). The spicy sausage that Americans know as pepperoni is called salamino piccante, and is quite common, especially in the South.

    Some Italian Recipes With Bell Peppers:
    Peperoni alla Goria, Goria-Style Marinated Grilled Peppers
    Pasta con Crema di Peperoni, Pasta with Bell Pepper Cream
    Timpano di Peperoni, Bell Pepper Timpano
    Torta Salata ai Peperoni, Capperi e Tonno, Savory Pie with Peppers, Capers and Tuna
    Peperoni Ripieni Al Peperone e Formaggio, Peppers Stuffed with Peppers and Cheese
    Agnello coi Peperoni, Lamb Stew with Bell Peppers
    More About Bell Peppers, and Other Recipes

    And Elsewhere on About:
    Easy Bell Pepper Coulis
    Chicken Stir-fry With Bell Peppers
    Stuffed Bell Peppers
    Garlic and Herb Sautéed Bell Pepper Strips
    Red Bean and Bell Pepper Soup

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    Peperoni Verdi

    Peperoni Verdi, Green Bell Peppers
    Green Bell Peppers Peperoni Verdi, Green Bell Peppers. © Kyle Phillips Licensed to About.Com

    Peppers are natives of the New World brought home by the Spaniards. We're fortunate that they did; while the tomato is perhaps the vegetable (fruit, actually) that people most associate with Italian cooking, life would be dull and dreary without peppers: Hotter peppers to liven things up and provide zing (they're used extensively in the South, especially Puglia and Calabria), and the milder, sweeter bell peppers in all sorts of recipes.

    To prepare a bell pepper, cut around the stem, which...MORE you may want to keep to use as a cap if you'll be stuffing the pepper, shake out the seeds and discard them, and peel away the white part of the ribs using a paring knife (insert it into the hole if you're keeping the peppers whole, or after you have cut them into strips if you're cutting them into strips). Even though bell peppers are nominally sweet, their ribs can pack a fiery wallop, so be careful to wash you hands well with soap before you touch anything else (e.g. your eyes) once you have finished cutting them. If the recipe you are following suggests you peel your peppers, put them under a broiler, turning them often, until they blister, then scrape away the skins (if you've already cut them into strips broil them skin side up).

    Incidentally, the Italian for bell pepper is peperone, which becomes peperoni in the plural. Hot peppers are called peperoncini (little peppers) in standard Italian, though they take on a host of names in various dialects (e.g. zenzero, which actually means ginger, in Tuscany). The spicy sausage that Americans know as pepperoni is called salamino piccante, and is quite common, especially in the South.

    Some Italian Recipes With Bell Peppers:
    Peperoni alla Goria, Goria-Style Marinated Grilled Peppers
    Pasta con Crema di Peperoni, Pasta with Bell Pepper Cream
    Timpano di Peperoni, Bell Pepper Timpano
    Torta Salata ai Peperoni, Capperi e Tonno, Savory Pie with Peppers, Capers and Tuna
    Peperoni Ripieni Al Peperone e Formaggio, Peppers Stuffed with Peppers and Cheese
    Agnello coi Peperoni, Lamb Stew with Bell Peppers
    More About Bell Peppers, and Other Recipes

    And Elsewhere on About:
    Roasted Peppers (Parve)
    Spicy & Sour Beef Spinach Soup - Salor Machu Kreoung
    Lamb Sausage Baguettes
    Vegetable Biryani
    Stuffed Peppers


    Finally, these beautiful peppers are from Giovanna, Giancarlo and Bruno's vegetable garden.

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    Friggitelli or Friarelli

    Friggitelli or Friarelli: Mild Frying Peppers
    Small Mild Green Peppers, Ideal For Frying Friggitelli or Friarelli: Mild Frying Peppers. © Kyle Phillips, Licensed to About.Com

    Friggitelli, which are also known as Friarelli, are small sized, slender, thin-walled, mild south Italian peppers that are perfect for frying. In their absence use something similarly shaped; bell peppers would be too meaty and also too large. As I said, friarelli are mild; if you want you could use something hotter, but some of your diners may run into problems if you do.

    Italian Recipes for Friggitelli:
    Friarelli Ripieni e Fritti, Stuffed Fried Neapolitan Peppers
    Peperoni Impanati e Fritti,...MORE Breaded Fried Peppers

    And Elsewhere on About:
    Moroccan Fried Peppers

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    Peperonicini, Hot Peppers

    Peperonicini, Hot Peppers, by the String
    Sold by the String in an Italian Market Peperonicini, Hot Peppers, by the String. © Kyle Phillips Licensed to About.Com

    Hot peppers are extremely popular in some parts of Italy, for example the Abruzo, Puglia, and Calabria. Other regions largely ignore hot peppers, and some include hot peppers in just a few dishes, for example Rome's spaghetti aglio olio e peperoncino, or Livorno's cacciucco, a zesty fish stew. Though the standard Italian for red pepper is peperoncino, the spice has a phenomenal number of local names, many of which either allude to its supposed aphrodesiac properties, or to the devil --...MORE e.g. diavolicchi -- with whom it's associated because it's hot. Tuscans call hot pepper zenzero, which means ginger; nobody's quite sure why.

    Red pepper plants are easy to grow (the plant is quite attractive, especially when its pods have ripened), and you can also store the pods for the winter months, if you don't use them right off. Simply pick the pods from the plant and dry them in the sun, in an airy spot. You can then either store them whole in a clean jar or grind them. If you choose to grind them, strain the powder to separate the finer fraction, which will be more delicately flavored, from the coarser fraction, which, containing the seeds, will have more punch.

    One very important thing to keep in mind when handling, chopping, or seeding hot peppers: the oil is quite irritating, especially if it works its way under the fingernails, and does not wash off easily. Therefore, use thick rubber gloves (not latex) when handling hot peppers; if you do not you could all too easily transfer said oil from your fingers to your eyes, or to other (ahem) sensitive body parts.

    Italian uses for Hot Peppers:
    Peperoncini Sotto Aceto, Pickled Hot Peppers
    Peperoncini Sott'Olio, Canned Hot Peppers
    Aceto all'Aglio e Peperoncino, Garlic and Hot Pepper Vinegar
    Seppioline ai Peperoncini, Cuttlefish with Hot Peppers

    Hot Peppers Elsewhere on About:
    The Year of the Chile Pepper: Growing, Kinds, Harvesting...
    Kinds of Peppers: An Image Gallery
    Hot Pepper Jelly
    Detailed Precautions for Chopping Peppers
    Nutritional information on Chili Peppers

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    Pere (or Mele) Cotogna

    Pera (or Mela) Cotogna
    Quinces Pera (or Mela) Cotogna. © Kyle Phillips Licensed to About.Com

    The word Cotogna (pronounced cotonia) translates as quince, though it's not quite that easy in Italian markets. In Tuscany quinces of the sort pictured here can be labeled either Pera Cotogna or Mela Cotogna (Pear-Quince & Apple-Quince, respectively), and you may find one term used in one stand at a market, and the other at another.

    To further confuse matters, in Tuscany the word Cotogna is also applied to an end-of-season clingstone peach, the Pesca Cotogna, which is as delicious as it...MORE is lumpy and ugly. And is therefore eagerly sought out by those who care more about flavor than appearance. Also, I have seen truly ugly apples (not quinces) labeled Mele Cotogne. More than once. As I said, there is some confusion.

    True quinces, however, are not particularly tasty as is: They are hard, astringent, and sour. On the other hand, when cooked they make fine jams, and Artusi has a couple of suggestions:

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    Pere Abate

    Pere Abate: Abate Pears
    Abbe Fetel Pears Pere Abate: Abate Pears. © Kyle Phillips, Licensed to About.Com

    Italy is blessed with an extraordinary variety of pears: the first appear in the markets in mid-summer, and then there is a steady stream of pears through the fall and winter months.

    The Abate pear derives its name from Abbé Fetel, the French Abbot who developed the cultivar in 1866, and outside of Italy you may also find it called the Fetel pear or the Abbe Fetel. In Italy, it has proven ideally suited to the orchards of Emilia Romagna, and much of the Italian Pera Abate crop comes from this...MORE region.

    The Pera Abate ripens in September and October, so this is the time for them. Once ripe they soften quickly, and therefore if you buy them you should only buy as many as you plan to eat in the immediate future.

    From a nutritional standpoint, Pere Abate are richer in fructose and other simple sugars than most pears, and are therefore ideal when one needs a burst of energy. They are also a good source of fiber, mineral salts, and mallic and citric acid, which are antioxidant.

    Though one can do other things with them, the classic Italian way of enjoying a pear is with a moderately firm wedge of Pecorino Toscano or Sardo (not Romano, which is much saltier). Indeed, there's a saying, Non far sapere al contadino quanto é buona la pera col pecorino -- don't let the farmer know how good a pear is with pecorino, presumably because if the farmer ever cottoned on to the combination, the supply of pears and cheese would dry up.

    Italian Recipes With Pears:
    Baked Pasta with Pears and Speck, Pasta Al Forno con Pere e Speck
    Duck Stuffed with Pears, Anatra Ripiena con le Pere
    Elisabetta's Quick String Bean Salad (with pears)
    Fried Apples or Pears Farmer Style, Frittura di Mele o Pere alla Contadinesca
    Pears in Wine, Pere al Vino

    Pears Elsewhere On About:
    Pear-Cardamom Truffle Bars
    Mixed Greens with Pears and Blue Cheese Dressing
    Pear Crisp with a Gingersnap Topping
    Pear and Almond Dressing and Poultry Stuffing
    Acorn Squash and Pear Pie
    Savory Bourbon-Glazed Pears

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    Pere Coscia

    Pere Coscia: Coscia Pears
    Coscia Pears Pere Coscia: Coscia Pears. © Kyle Phillips, Licensed to About.Com

    Italy is blessed with an extraordinary variety of pears: the first appear in the markets in mid-summer, and then there is a steady stream of pears through the fall and winter months.

    The Pera Coscia is a small, precocious pear that first appears in late summer, and continues through the beginning of autumn. Though it grows in much of Italy, the finest are said to be Sicilian, from the flanks of Mount Etna.

    From a nutritional standpoint the Pera Coscia, like all pears, is rich in fructose and other...MORE simple sugars, and is therefore ideal when one needs a burst of energy. They are also a good source of fiber, mineral salts, and mallic and citric acid, which are antioxidant.

    From a gastronomic standpoint, the Pera Coscia is fairly sweet, firm, and has a pleasantly grainy texture. They are commonly eaten raw, and in addition to appearing at the end of the meal are often served in salads, or with cheeses (including Gorgonzola) and nuts.

    Italian Recipes With Pears:
    Baked Pasta with Pears and Speck, Pasta Al Forno con Pere e Speck
    Duck Stuffed with Pears, Anatra Ripiena con le Pere
    Elisabetta's Quick String Bean Salad (with pears)
    Fried Apples or Pears Farmer Style, Frittura di Mele o Pere alla Contadinesca
    Pears in Wine, Pere al Vino

    Pears Elsewhere On About:
    Dairy Free Caramelized Pear Bread Pudding
    Pear Tarte Tatin
    Miki's Red Pepper Soup
    Low Fat Butternut Squash and Pear Soup
    Grilled Blue Cheese Pear Sandwich
    Blue Cheese and Pear Tart

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    Pere Williams

    Pere Williams: Williams, or Bartlet Pears
    Williams, or Bartlet Pears Pere Williams: Williams, or Bartlet Pears. © Kyle Phillips, Licensed to About.Com

    Italy is blessed with an extraordinary variety of pears: the first appear in the markets in mid-summer, and then there is a steady stream of pears through the fall and winter months.

    The Williams Pear is, as one might guess from the name, of English origin: the cultivar was developed sometime between 1765 and 1770 by a schoolmaster named either Mr. Stair or Mr. Wheeler, who sold his pear to a nurseryman named Williams. At present it is one of the most widely grown pears in the world. The Bartlett...MORE name derives from Mr. Enoch Bartlett, who found Williams pear trees on an estate he bought in Massachusetts, and named the trees after himself. By the time people realized, in 1828, that Bartlett and Williams bears were the same thing, the name had become well established, and there are many other local names as well.

    Much of the Italian Williams pera crop comes from Emilia Romagna, though there are aslo groves in the Veneto. Of the various pears, the Williams is the one most used by industry, to make syrups, juices, and canned fruit.

    Pere Williams are also popular in markets, because they are delicately flavored and rather voluptuous. From a nutritional standpoint the Pera Williams, like all pears, is rich in fructose and other simple sugars, and is therefore ideal when one needs a burst of energy. They are also a good source of fiber, mineral salts, and mallic and citric acid, which are antioxidant.

    Though one can do other things with them, the classic Italian way of enjoying a pear is with a moderately firm wedge of Pecorino Toscano or Sardo (not Romano, which is much saltier). Indeed, there's a saying, Non far sapere al contadino quanto é buona la pera col pecorino -- don't let the farmer know how good a pear is with pecorino, presumably because if the farmer ever cottened on to the combination, the supply of pears and cheese would dry up.

    Italian Recipes With Pears:
    Baked Pasta with Pears and Speck, Pasta Al Forno con Pere e Speck
    Duck Stuffed with Pears, Anatra Ripiena con le Pere
    Elisabetta's Quick String Bean Salad (with pears)
    Fried Apples or Pears Farmer Style, Frittura di Mele o Pere alla Contadinesca
    Pears in Wine, Pere al Vino

    Pears Elsewhere On About:
    Poached Pears in Red Wine
    Poached Pears with Raspberry Sauce
    Bartlett Pear Orange Marmalade
    Mahi Mahi with Spicy Pear Salsa
    Pears in Wine, Peras al Vino
    Honey Ham With Asian Pears

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    Pesche Gialle

    Pesche Gialle: Yellow Peaches
    Yellow Peaches are Richly Flavored and Voluptuous Pesche Gialle: Yellow Peaches. © Kyle Phillips, Licensed to About.Com

    Peaches. Voluptuous, juicy peaches loaded with flavor, to be savored at any time of day. The season begins in mid-June and continues through early September, with white peaches, whose skins are pale green tinged with red, and whose pale white flesh has a delicate sweetness tinged with bitter overtones, and with yellow peaches, whose skins are gold tinged with orange and whose flesh is sweeter and more direct. In the midst of it all there a variety of heirloom peaches, and nectarines, whose flesh...MORE is like that of yellow peaches, though their skins are smooth, not fuzzy, and at the end come late-harvested Cotogne, ugly wrinkled peaches whose yellow skins are shot with green, and whose flesh clings to the pit like a drowning man to a raft. They're getting harder to find now that Italian consumers are beginning to value appearance over flavor, but if you do perchance find some in an Italian market, grab them, because their richness is incomparable.

    If they're ripe, and this is one of the great problems with peaches: Unlike apples and some other kinds of fruit, they don't continue to ripen off the tree. Combine this with the delicacy of a ripe peach, which will bruise if you look at it sharply, and you suddenly understand why it can be so hard to find good peaches outside of peach-growing areas -- they spoil before they get to market, or arrive green and tasteless because the producer picked them too soon. Assuming the peaches you find in your market look ripe and are unblemished, before you buy a bag sniff one or two to make sure they have that heady peach aroma.

    How? The classic Italian way is to slice the peach into a glass, fill the glass with wine, and then eat the slices, spearing them with the point of the knife. The peach adds a delightful accent to the wine, which can be either red or white, depending upon what is produced in the area (in Central Tuscany it's usually red).

    Want More? Some Italian Peach Recipes:
    Pesche Ripiene, Stuffed Peaches
    Cremolata di Pesche, a Rich Peach Sherbet
    Torta di Fichi e Pesche, Fig and Peach Cake
    Pesche Sciroppate al Moscato, Candied Peaches in Moscato Syrup
    Marmellata di Pesche, Peach Marmalade
    General Information on Peaches and more Recipes

    Peaches Elsewhere on About:
    Spanish Peaches in Wine
    Chicken With Peaches
    Peach Dumpling Dessert
    Brandied Peach Shortcake with Raspberry Mascarpone and Almonds
    Ginger Peach Butter

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    Pesche Bianche

    Pesche Bianche: White Peaches
    White Peaches Are More Delicately Flavored Pesche Bianche: White Peaches. © Kyle Phillips, Licensed to About.Com

    Peaches. Voluptuous, juicy peaches loaded with flavor, to be savored at any time of day. The season begins in mid-June and continues through early September, with white peaches, whose skins are pale green tinged with red, and whose pale white flesh has a delicate sweetness tinged with bitter overtones, and with yellow peaches, whose skins are gold tinged with orange and whose flesh is sweeter and more direct. In the midst of it all there a veriety of heirloom peaches, and nectarines, whose flesh...MORE is like that of yellow peaches, though their skins are smooth, not fuzzy, and at the end come late-harvested Cotogne, ugly wrinkled peaches whose yellow skins are shot with green, and whose flesh clings to the pit like a drowning man to a raft. They're getting harder to find now that Italian consumers are beginning to value appearance over flavor, but if you do perchance find some in an Italian market, grab them, because their richness is incomparable.

    If they're ripe, and this is one of the great problems with peaches: Unlike apples and some other kinds of fruit, they don't continue to ripen off the tree. Combine this with the delicacy of a ripe peach, which will bruise if you look at it sharply, and you suddenly understand why it can be so hard to find good peaches outside of peach-growing areas -- they spoil before they get to market, or arrive green and tasteless because the producer picked them too soon. Assuming the peaches you find in your market look ripe and are unblemished, before you buy a bag sniff one or two to make sure they have that heady peach aroma. If they don't the fruit won't taste of much, and you're better off buying something else.

    How? The classic Italian way is to slice the peach into a glass, fill the glass with wine, and then eat the slices, spearing them with the point of the knife. The peach adds a delightful accent to the wine, which can be either red or white, depending upon what is produced in the area (in Central Tuscany it's usually red).

    Want More? Some Italian Peach Recipes:
    Pesche Ripiene, Stuffed Peaches
    Cremolata di Pesche, a Rich Peach Sherbet
    Torta di Fichi e Pesche, Fig and Peach Cake
    Pesche Sciroppate al Moscato, Candied Peaches in Moscato Syrup
    Marmellata di Pesche, Peach Marmalade
    General Information on Peaches and more Recipes

    Peaches Elsewhere on About:
    Peach Barbecue Sauce
    Grilled Peaches
    Peach Crisp
    Peach Melba Meringue
    Thai-style Grilled Scallops with Mango/Peaches and Red Bell Pepper

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    Pesche Noci: Nectarines

    Pesche Noci: Nectarines
    The Smooth-Skinned Peach Pesche Noci: Nectarines. © Kyle Phillips, Licensed to About.Com

    Peach season begins in mid-June and continues through early September, with white peaches, whose skins are pale green tinged with red, and whose pale white flesh has a delicate sweetness tinged with bitter overtones, and with yellow peaches, whose skins are gold tinged with orange and whose flesh is sweeter and more direct. In the midst of it all there a variety of heirloom peaches, and nectarines like those shown here, whose flesh is like that of yellow peaches, though their skins are smooth,...MORE not fuzzy, and at the end come late-harvested Cotogne, ugly wrinkled peaches whose yellow skins are shot with green, and whose flesh clings to the pit like a drowning man to a raft. They're getting harder to find now that Italian consumers are beginning to value appearance over flavor, but if you do perchance find some in an Italian market, grab them, because their richness is incomparable.

    If they're ripe, and this is one of the great problems with peaches: Unlike apples and some other kinds of fruit, they don't continue to ripen off the tree. Combine this with the delicacy of a ripe peach, which will bruise if you look at it sharply, and you suddenly understand why it can be so hard to find good peaches outside of peach-growing areas -- they spoil before they get to market, or arrive green and tasteless because the producer picked them too soon. Assuming the peaches you find in your market look ripe and are unblemished, before you buy a bag sniff one or two to make sure they have that heady peach aroma. If they don't the fruit won't taste of much, and you're better off buying something else.

    How? The classic Italian way is to slice the peach into a glass, fill the glass with wine, and then eat the slices, spearing them with the point of the knife. The peach adds a delightful accent to the wine, which can be either red or white, depending upon what is produced in the area (in Central Tuscany it's usually red).

    Want More? Some Italian Peach Recipes:
    Pesche Ripiene, Stuffed Peaches
    Cremolata di Pesche, a Rich Peach Sherbet
    Torta di Fichi e Pesche, Fig and Peach Cake
    Pesche Sciroppate al Moscato, Candied Peaches in Moscato Syrup
    Marmellata di Pesche, Peach Marmalade
    General Information on Peaches and more Recipes

    Nectarines Elsewhere on About:
    Warm Nectarine Crepes
    Nectarine Clafouti
    Flank Steak with Nectarines
    Spinach Salad with Nectarine and Balsamic Vinaigrette
    Broiled Nectarines with Brown Sugar and Sour Cream

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    Pomodori A Grappolo

    Pomodori a Grappolo: Salad Tomatoes
    Everyday Salad Tomatoes Pomodori a Grappolo: Salad Tomatoes. © Kyle Phillips, Licensed to About.Com

    We take tomatoes for granted now, and it would be quite difficult to imagine Italian cuisine without them, but it took Italians a very long time to accept them: Though they were introduced as ornamental plants in the 1500s, the earliest evidence of their use in the kitchen comes from Francesco Gaudentio's Il Panunto Toscano, published in 1705.

    A couple of observations on selecting tomatoes: Italians divide them into two classes: insalatari and da salsa. Insalatari, as one might expect, are...MORE salad tomatoes, to be eaten raw. People generally select them not-too-ripe, in other words quite firm, with streaks of green running through them, and with a lively acidity that complements the flavor of the greens in the salad. Pomodori da salsa, on the other hand, are for cooking and should be ripe -- an explosive red, rich, and slightly sweet too.

    These are Pomodori a grappolo, tomatoes sold by the bunch mostly destined towards salads, which are standard market fare, sun ripened in summer and (I expect) hothouse in winter.

    More Italian Tomatoes:
    Tomato Background, Info & Recipes
    Insalata Caprese, Mozzarella and Tomato Salad
    Riso con Basilico e Pomodori, Rice with Basil and Tomatoes

    Tomatoes Elsewhere on About:
    Bacon and Tomato Salad
    Low Fat Three-Tomato Salad
    Zesty Green Chile and Tomato Salad
    Healthy Watermelon and Tomato Salad

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    Pomodori Costoluti

    Pomodori Costoluti: Tuscan heirloom tomatoes
    Tuscan Heirloom Tomatoes Pomodori Costoluti: Tuscan heirloom tomatoes. © Kyle Phillips, Licensed to About.Com

    We take tomatoes for granted now, and it would be quite difficult to imagine Italian cuisine without them, but it took Italians a very long time to accept them: Though they were introduced as ornamental plants in the 1500s, the earliest evidence of their use in the kitchen comes from Francesco Gaudentio's Il Panunto Toscano, published in 1705.

    A couple of observations on selecting tomatoes: Italians divide them into two classes: insalatari and da salsa. Insalatari, as one might expect, are...MORE salad tomatoes, to be eaten raw. People generally select them not-too-ripe, in other words quite firm, with streaks of green running through them, and with a lively acidity that complements the flavor of the greens in the salad. Pomodori da salsa, on the other hand, are for cooking and should be ripe -- an explosive red, rich, and slightly sweet too.

    These are Pomodori Costoluti; the word costoluto means "ribbed," and is apt. Though they're not as aesthetically pleasing as some tomato strains, they are richly flavored and quite nice in salads. People gnerally prefer them somewhat green, because the acidity of a green tomato contributes nicely to the overall flavor of a salad, contrasting with the oil and complementing the vinegar and the sweeter vegetables -- carrots, peppers, bulb fennel -- that may also be in the salad. Pomodori Costoluti appear in the markets in spring and carry though until mid-summer. .

    More Italian Tomatoes:
    Tomato Background, Info & Recipes
    Insalata Caprese, Mozzarella and Tomato Salad
    Anthony's Mediterranean Tomato Salad

    Tomatoes Elsewhere on About:
    Ensalada de Tomate, Spanich Tomato Salad
    Feta, Red Onion, and Tomato Salad
    Heirloom Tomato Salad
    Edamame Tomato Salad

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    Pomodori Merinda

    Pomodori Merinda: Sicilian heirloom tomatoes
    Sicilian heirloom tomatoes Pomodori Merinda: Sicilian heirloom tomatoes. © Kyle Phillips, Licensed to About.Com

    We take tomatoes for granted now, and it would be quite difficult to imagine Italian cuisine without them, but it took Italians a very long time to accept them: Though they were introduced as ornamental plants in the 1500s, the earliest evidence of their use in the kitchen comes from Francesco Gaudentio's Il Panunto Toscano, published in 1705.

    A couple of observations on selecting tomatoes: Italians divide them into two classes: insalatari and da salsa. Insalatari, as one might expect, are...MORE salad tomatoes, to be eaten raw. People generally select them not-too-ripe, in other words quite firm, with streaks of green running through them, and with a lively acidity that complements the flavor of the greens in the salad. Pomodori da salsa, on the other hand, are for cooking and should be ripe -- an explosive red, rich, and slightly sweet too.

    These are Pomodori Merinda, a Sicilian heirloom tomato that's best when still shot with green. They're also best when they're not too large, and people generally eat them raw, finely sliced because they're thick-skinned, in salads or simply seasoned with olive oil, salt, and vinegar.

    More Italian Tomatoes:
    Tomato Background, Info & Recipes
    Insalata Caprese, Mozzarella and Tomato Salad
    Anthony's Mediterranean Tomato Salad

    Tomatoes Elsewhere on About:
    Lush Tomato Salad
    Green Bean and Tomato Salad
    Mango Tomato Salad
    Low Fat Corn, Black Bean and Tomato Salad

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    Pomodori Pachino

    Pomodori Pachino: Sicilian cherry tomatoes
    Sicilian Cherry Tomatoes Pomodori Pachino: Sicilian cherry tomatoes. © Kyle Phillips, Licensed to About.Com

    We take tomatoes for granted now, and it would be quite difficult to imagine Italian cuisine without them, but it took Italians a very long time to accept them: Though they were introduced as ornamental plants in the 1500s, the earliest evidence of their use in the kitchen comes from Francesco Gaudentio's Il Panunto Toscano, published in 1705.

    A couple of observations on selecting tomatoes: Italians divide them into two classes: insalatari and da salsa. Insalatari, as one might expect, are...MORE salad tomatoes, to be eaten raw. People generally select them not-too-ripe, in other words quite firm, with streaks of green running through them, and with a lively acidity that complements the flavor of the greens in the salad. Pomodori da salsa, on the other hand, are for cooking and should be ripe -- an explosive red, rich, and slightly sweet too.

    These are Pomodori Pachino, Sicilian cherry tomatoes that are very nice in salads, though they can also be used elsewhere -- for example, they make a fine addition to a pizza, and are nice when added, halved & raw, to pasta with pesto sauce.

    More Italian Tomatoes:
    Tomato Background, Info & Recipes
    Insalata Caprese, Mozzarella and Tomato Salad
    Anthony's Mediterranean Tomato Salad

    Tomatoes Elsewhere on About:
    Stuffed Cherry Tomatoes
    Bacon Stuffed Cherry Tomatoes
    Farfalle with Asparagus and Cherry Tomatoes
    Tomojito, a tomato Mojito

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    Pomodori San Marzano

    Pomodori San Marzano: Neapolitan plum tomatoes
    Neapolitan Plum Tomatoes Pomodori San Marzano: Neapolitan plum tomatoes. © Kyle Phillips, Licensed to About.Com

    We take tomatoes for granted now, and it would be quite difficult to imagine Italian cuisine without them, but it took Italians a very long time to accept them: Though they were introduced as ornamental plants in the 1500s, the earliest evidence of their use in the kitchen comes from Francesco Gaudentio's Il Panunto Toscano, published in 1705.

    A couple of observations on selecting tomatoes: Italians divide them into two classes: insalatari and da salsa. Insalatari, as one might expect, are...MORE salad tomatoes, to be eaten raw. People generally select them not-too-ripe, in other words quite firm, with streaks of green running through them, and with a lively acidity that complements the flavor of the greens in the salad. Pomodori da salsa, on the other hand, are for cooking and should be ripe -- an explosive red, rich, and slightly sweet too.

    The tomatoes pictured here are Pomodori San Marzano, plum tomatoes from the San Marzano production area on the flanks of Monte Vesuvio. Of course plum tomatoes grow elsewhere too, at which point Italians call them pomodori perini. Pomodori San Marzano/Perini are the classic canning and sauce tomato, and people generally wait until mid-summer, when they're wonderfully sun-ripened, and then buy them in bulk to make tomato sauce for the winter months. They're also nice in other dishes as an ingredient, though they are not so good raw (for example in salad) because they're a bit dry, and firm too.

    More Italian Tomatoes:
    Tomato Background, Info & Recipes
    Pappa al Pomodoro
    Pomarola, Tuscan Tomato Sauce
    Dino's Marinara Sauce
    Spicy Stuffed Plum Tomato Recipe - Perine Piccanti, Spicy Stuffed Plum Tomato Recipe - Perine Piccanti

    Tomatoes Elsewhere on About:
    Mango Tomato Salsa
    Rosemary Beef and Tomatoes
    Layered BLT Dip
    Turkey Cutlets With Roasted Tomatoes

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    Sun Dried Tomatoes

    Pomodori Secchi, Sun Dried Tomatoes
    Pomodori Secchi, Sun Dried Tomatoes. © Kyle Phillips Licensed to About.Com

    Sun dried tomatoes are a standard South Italian antipasto and ingredient, and are also easy to make. They're less common in northern Italy: I once bought some in a deli in Florence and asked what to do with them; the guy behind the counter shrugged and said he had no idea.

    More Italian Tomatoes:
    General Tomato Background, Info & Recipes
    Making Sun Dried Tomatoes
    Sun Dried Tomatoes with Tuna
    Salted Tomatoes
    Pasta with Sun Dried Tomatoes

    Sun Dried Tomatoes Elsewhere on About:
    Sun-dried Tomato and...MORE Walnut Penne Pasta
    Sun-Dried Tomato and Olive Tapenade
    Sun-Dried Tomato Marinade
    Easy Filet Mignon with Sundried Tomato Butter

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    Porri

    Porri: Leeks
    Leeks! Porri: Leeks. © Kyle Phillips Licensed to About.Com

    Leeks look rather imposing, like something that could double as a club if necessary. However, this impression is completely off; leeks are related to onions, but are much more delicately flavored, and therefore result in more delicately flavored dishes that are also easier to digest. Italian markets carry them year round.

    Leeks can be used instead of onions in most dishes; you'll want to use the white part, after trimming the roots & tougher green leaves, and washing them carefully,...MORE because, as a fellow Guide points out, they are dirt magnets. From a nutritional standpoint, they are a good source of fiber, and also of folic acid, calcium, potassium and vitamin C.

    A few Italian recipes that call specifically for leeks:
    Tagliatelle with Leeks and Ricotta
    Gnocchi alla Romana with Leeks and Speck
    Tight Corkscrew Pasta, and a Leek and Clam Sauce

    Leeks Elsewhere on About:
    How to Clean Fresh Leeks: The Video

    Warm Leeks with Lemon Dijon Vinaigrette
    Baked Leeks with Lemon and Garlic
    German Sauteed Leeks for Dinner
    Dairy Free Leek Gratin

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    Puntarelle

    Puntarelle: Roman Chicory
    They Look Threatening, But Are An Excellent Roman Chicory Puntarelle: Roman Chicory. © Kyle Phillips, Licensed to About.Com

    Puntarelle are a Roman variety of chicory, and despite their rather threatening appearance are quite good. The word puntarelle is Roman argot, and until fairly recently there was a certain amount of discussion outside of Rome as to what puntarelle are. Turns out they're chicory shoots of a variety known as Catalogna, picked while still young and tender.

    As is the case with all chicory they do have a bitter undertone to them that makes them a very pleasing accompaniment to rich, hearty foods....MORE Mr. Jannattoni notes that in his home their preparation was a task jealously guarded by his grandmother. She must have kept the secret of their preparation to herself, because he quotes Ada Boni's instructions for the sauce with which to serve them:

    Once you have washed, picked over, and shredded your puntarelle, grind one or more cloves of garlic in a mortar with a few rinsed, boned anchovies (ideally the kind packed in salt, though you can used canned anchovy filets packed in oil too). When the two are ground to a smooth paste work some good vinegar into the mixture to dilute it, and use the sauce thus obtained to dress your puntarelle.

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    Radicchio Rosso Precoce

    Radicchio Rosso di Treviso Precoce
    Radicchio Rosso di Treviso Precoce. © Kyle Phillips, Licensed to About.Com

    Radicchio Rosso di Treviso is one of the most distinctive Italian vegetables: Wine-red leaves, and bone-white ribs. It's produced only around Treviso, where the happy combination of abundant water, proper temperatures, and soil allow the farmers to apply the techniques also used to whiten Belgian Endive during the winter months, with memorable results.

    There are two kinds of Radicchio Rosso di Treviso: Precoce (shown here), which has fleshy red leaves with white ribs that form a compact...MORE bunch, and Tardivo, which has much more pronounced ribs and splayed leaves. As you might guess, Precoce comes into season first, and though it is prettier to look at the Tardivo is more flavorful, with stronger bitter accents.

    Both the Precoce and the Tardivo varieties of Radicchio now enjoy IGP (Indicazione Geografica Protetta) status, which means that they can only be sold as such if they are produced around Treviso, under the supervision of the Consorzio Radicchio di Treviso.

    Some Italian Recipes With Radicchio Rosso:
    Risotto al Radicchio Rosso
    Lasagne con Ricotta e Radicchio, Lasagna with Ricotta and Radicchio
    Anatra Farcita al Radicchio di Treviso, Duck Stuffed with Radicchio di Treviso
    Radicchio rosso di Treviso alla Griglia, Grilled Radicchio Rosso di Treviso
    More About Radicchio, and Other Recipes

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    Radicchio Rosso Tardivo