Your Essential Guide to Cooking Like a Real Italian

When it comes to cooking Italian, it’s less about the gadgets and more about the ingredients. Italian cooking is revered for its simplicity and freshness – making it a perfect cuisine for summertime weeknight dinners. As Italy is a warm country, you know that their hot weather dishes are going to be quick, fresh, and keep you out of the kitchen.

So, as you find yourself weighed down by the summertime heat, don’t make things any more unpleasant by slaving away over a hot stove. Instead, learn a couple simple tricks to take simple dishes to the next level. All you need are a few ingredients.

Here are the top 5 tips to make your Italian cooking that much more authentic.

1. Buy Better Boxed Pasta

Trust us, those so called “expensive pastas” are worth the price tag. Not all dried pasta is created equal.

It may look the same in the package, but the mouthfeel that it offers you upon first bite is a whole new experience when compared to grocery store pasta.

2. If You Make Your Own, Use Bread Flour

If you’re an adventurous chef, you may be curious about making your own noodles. If so, good for you! Just a couple of pro tips before you begin.

Pro Tip 1

Technically you can use all-purpose flour to make your noodles. However, you’ll find that they always seem to come out a little too thick. Naturally, the solution seems to be to roll them thinner, but all-purpose flour makes for weak dough which will cause your noodles to have trouble holding together.

Bread flour solves that problem by making stronger noodles that can be rolled thinner.

Pro Tip 2

When you’ve rolled out and cut your noodles, let them dry as long as you can. The longer and slower you let them try, the better texture they will develop.

Pro Tip 3

When you dry your pasta, freeze it for 20 minutes first. It will help jumpstart the development of that beautiful texture. Then, after they’ve done their time in the freezer, you can dry them out the rest of the way on a sheet pan. 

3. Always Spring for the Good Olive Oil

Olive oil is a basic tenant of Italian cooking, so invest. Buy the best you can and you will get a lot of mileage out of it.

4. Do Not Cook Perfect Tomatoes

Summertime means tomatoes. However, finding that perfect specimen is rare, so when you do, do not cook it. Simply slice and serve it. Maybe add a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt to really bring out its flavors.

Otherwise, save the misshapen or mealy tomatoes for cooking. They’ll taste just as good in sauce, but their texture won’t play as important of a roll.

5. Not All Eggplants Need Be Salted

You’ve always been told to salt your eggplants before you cook them. But this only applies to the grocery store variety that is generally a little tougher in texture.

If you pick up your eggplants fresh at the farmers market, you simply need to slice and fry them to cook the best eggplant parmesan you’ve had all summer.

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