Herbs, Spice & More

The essence of Italian cuisine is its simplicity, that doesn’t mean that there is not a broad list of ingredients to work with. The pantry list from a northern region will be different from a southern one, although there is a vast common ground, some ingredients are regional and sometimes not known in other regions. A number of them are used more in one part of Italy than others.
A complete list is virtually impossible, but we will do our best.

Basil, Basilico
One of the most used if not the most used herb in Italy, from the mint family, Ocinum basilicum, somewhat tangy and sweet flavor with an amazing bouquet. Mostly used raw or at the end of cooking, specially where tomato is the main ingredient.
Bay leaves, Alloro
Of the Laurus nobilis family, strong taste leave used mostly dry. Part of marinating meats, vinegars, flavoring agent for sauces, soups and stocks, also used on braised and stewed recipes.
Parsley, Prezzemolo
Aromatic herb, Petrocelium sativum, with many varieties. Flat leave parsley, known as Italian parsley is the most famous in Italy, the curly type is also used but mostly for garnishing. Known to neutralize smell of garlic when chew raw and in cooking.
Rosemary, Rosmarino
Needle like leaves of the Rosmarinus officinalis plant, used in grilled dishes, sauces and a multiple of other recipes. Has and woody and piney fragrance.
Sage, Salvia
Salvia officionalis, very fragrant, use to flavor roasts, sauted fish and a few cuts of meat, excellent with pork and the famous burro e salvia sauce (butter and sage) for raviolis and gnocci.
Thyme, Timo
Tiny leaves of theThymus vulgaris plant, wildly used for a variety of dishes, also used dried for soups, fish and marinades.
Mint, Mentuccia
Wild mint leave with a lemon like fragrance, Melissa officionalis, with a variety of uses, also on “dolci”, desserts. Key ingredient on Carcciofi alla Romana (artichokes roman’s style) and Trippa alla Romana (roman style tripe).
Tarragon, Serpentaria or Dragoncello
Thin leaves from the herbaceous plant Artemisia dracunculus. Used to flavor saladas, vinagrettes. Goes very well with white fish.
Chives, Erba Cipollina
Grass like plant, Allium schoeprasum, mild onion flavor used on salads and sauces.
Marjoram, Maggiorana
Origanum majorana, variety of oregano with a more distinct flavor, used for marinating mostly game meat, although has many uses.
Saffron, Zafferano
Stigma of the flower Crocus Sativus of Asian origins, comes in threads and powdered. Used to flavor and color a good numbers of dishes, earthy aroma of reddish or orangy hue. Used only in very small amounts because has a very strong taste. One of the most expensive spice in the world.