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9 Most Famous Italian Food Recipes and Dishes

Italy is known for many things, including leather, wine, architecture, fashion, art, and cars. One of the biggest things Italy is famous for, however, is its food. Part of the reason for this is that every region has unique traditions and flavour combinations, making it difficult to characterize Italian food as any one style or flavour.

1. Gnocchi

These little pasta dumplings are a traditional Italian dish common in Northern Italy. The dough is cut into little lumps and then either cooked just like that or flattened with a fork to leave slots for sauce. It can be made from many different ingredients including potato, semolina and wheat flour, and herbs, cheese, or other ingredients are often added for flavour.

2. Risotto

Made primarily from rice, this dish is also most commonly found in Northern Italy, but it is also frequently served in trendy Italian restaurants. The rice is cooked in the broth of either meat, fish, or vegetables, which makes it creamy. Other ingredients are often added for more flavour, like cheese, onion, or herbs and spices.

Different regions make different versions of risotto, for instance the Province of Mantua is known for Risotto alla pilota which is made with sausage, pork, and Parmesan cheese, while the Veneto region is known for Risotto al nero di sepia, a dish made with cuttlefish.

3. Cannelloni

Cannelloni noodles are large round noodles which are usually stuffed with ricotta cheese and spinach, or they can be stuffed with meat, like minced beef. In a made-from-scratch dish, the noodles would be made flat and then rolled around the stuffing.

A tomato-based sauce is normally used to cover the pasta, and a white sauce called Béchamel is put on top of that. Alternatively, either the tomato sauce or the Béchamel can be left out, and only one sauce would be used. Cannelloni is generally associated with the Campania and Sicily regions, although it is not necessarily a regional dish.

4. Focaccia

This is a type of flat bread which is served throughout Italy. Each region tends to specialize in a particular type. Some regions make the focaccia soft and oily, while others make it hard, more like a biscuit. As well, different ingredients are added depending on the region in which the bread is made.

Some add herbs like rosemary, while others add cheese. Others yet even make a sweet version, focaccia dolce, which contains sugar, honey, and other sweet ingredients, and is more like a cake than a bread.

5. Rigatoni

Italy is known for its pastas. Rigatoni is a round, tube-shaped pasta that can come in various sizes, but is characterized by the ridges that run along the outside and the straight-cut ends, which differ it from penne which is cut diagonally at the ends. Rigatoni is well-liked for pairing with sauce because the ridges in the noodles tend to catch sauce, so it doesn’t just slide off. It’s a popular dish in southern Italy.

6. Polenta

Northern Italy is known for polenta, a cornmeal-based porridge that may also be left to solidify to form a loaf. It has only two ingredients: cornmeal (or another similar grain) and water. Soup stock may also be added for flavour. The grind of the grain makes a difference in the polenta that will be made. A fine grind will be creamier and softer, while a course grind will be firmer.

7. Carbonara

Traditionally, Carbonara is made with guanciale, Pecorino cheese, and egg, and is put on rigatoni noodles or Mezze maniche, which is almost the same as rigatoni, only shorter in length. This dish is popular in Rome, but is famous worldwide. Many variations exist, for example, replacing the rigatoni noodles for spaghetti, the guanciale for bacon and adding vegetables like mushrooms or peas.

8. Arancini and supplì

Both arancini and supplì are a variety of fried rice ball made in Italy. That’s kind of where the similarities end. Arancini are of the Sicilian region, while supplì is from Rome. While arancini are typically larger, rounded balls, supplì are typically smaller and come in more of an oval shape.

The fillings are also different. Arancini contain cheese, ragu, and often has vegetables in it. Supplì, on the other hand, tends to be a little simpler – rice, tomato sauce, and some mozzarella cheese.

9. Gelato

For dessert, one of the most famous Italian dishes to try is gelato. This frozen ice cream treat is considered a dessert of the Tuscany region, although it has spread, and can be found in many places throughout the country.

It differs from other ice creams in that its flavours are generally more pronounced, and it is more likely to be made with more whole milk than cream. This means that gelato generally has less fat than most ice cream. It also has a denser consistency, as it is churned at a much slower rate.

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