15 Italian Food Ingredients to Add to Your Pantry (And Why)
15 Italian Food Ingredients to Add to Your Pantry
Who doesn’t love Italian food? It is hearty and filling - and yet accessible and straightforward. Centuries of traditions rolled up in just a few ingredients that tend to come together beautifully even at the hands of an amateur cook. At least as long as they follow the recipe diligently.
It’s not to say that cooking truly good Italian food is easy. Unless you want to make an enemy out of all your local Italian nonnas, never say that. The more straightforward the recipe, the harder it is to cook it to perfection. Anyone trying to cook pasta Aglio e olio or carbonara will tell you. Did you cook pasta just right? Did you cook the sauce right? Did you season it right?
And we’ve not even touched upon the quality of the ingredients yet. The simpler the dish and fewer ingredients it calls for, the harder it is to cover up sub-par ingredients. One would think Italian sauces would cover the taste of cheap pasta or pizza dough, being so strongly flavored. But if anything, authentic Italian sauces only highlight where a chef has failed since a sub-par seasoning is as easy to spot as a sub-par base.
You don’t need to look for an Italian grocery store in the vicinity these days. You can easily buy authentic Italian food online with just a few clicks and have it delivered to your door. All it takes is knowing what you’re looking for, exactly.
15 Italian Food Ingredients To Elevate Your Cooking:
These days, cooking Italian food can be a stress-free, fun affair that isn’t particularly time-consuming. Your local Italian nonna will disagree and claim that no packaged pasta and sauce can compare to homemade ones, but unfortunately, you’re not her. You might come close if you practice for a few years, but until then, high-quality Italian products are your best bet.
Add unique twists most brands add to their products to elevate them over their rivals and
We’ve compiled a list of 15 products that would be a great addition to your pantry if you’re only interested in putting simple meals together at the end of the day or looking to elevate your cooking by experimenting with new flavors.
And, of course, if you’re interested in adding a specific product to your pantry, you can always check out our premium quality collection of Italian food online for further options.
Riso Di Molinella Superfino Arborio Rice for Italian Risotto
Arborio rice is the most popular rice used for authentic Italian risotto. Few substitutes will do. If you’ve never paid particular attention to the rice you’re buying, you might’ve noticed inconsistencies in how your risotto turns out. The problem might’ve been the wrong rice all along.
The significant benefit of this particular arborio rice from Riso di Molinella is in its simplicity. Its flavor and quality are due to the climate, nutrient-rich soil, and the rice-growing traditions of the place it’s grown.
The town of Molinella has been one of Italy’s premier arborio rice-growing spots since the XV century, and the producers take pride in upholding these traditions. The rice is harvested by small farms that have uniquely assigned small silos to store and process the rice in small batches. The producers adhere to strict quality and safety controls but emulate centuries-old traditions to keep the local rice’s unique taste.
Tutto Calabria Nduja Sausage Pasta Sauce
Nduja is a type of spicy cured pork sausage, not dissimilar in taste to chorizo and pepperoni. It’s made with pork meat, specifically from the head and various trimmings, fatback, and roasted chili peppers. The unique thing about it is that it’s spreadable.
Nduja originates in Calabria and is mainly used to spread over bread or serve with cheese.
It’s a highly beloved product - and so it should be unsurprising that Italians found a way to incorporate it easily into pasta and pizza.
This Tutto Calabria pasta sauce is a classic tomato sauce elevated with nduja’s meaty and spicy flavors. Few, if any, other Italian sauces taste anything alike. It pairs exceptionally well with cheeses like parmesan and Grana Padano, making it simple to put together a quick pasta dish after work or elevate a guilty pleasure like a frozen pizza into something gourmet with a few dollops.
Organic Mantova Chili Infused Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Even those who aren’t particularly interested in the food they put in their body know that adding extra virgin olive oil to a dish elevates its flavor profile.
Well, this chili-infused EVOO takes it a step further. It adds just a touch of extra note to every dish it’s used for, eliminating the need for complicated seasoning and sauces. It works particularly well for cooking red meats and white fish, roasting vegetables, and as a pair with soft, fresh cheeses like mozzarella and burrata.
But it can elevate pretty much every dish you put it into, which can be particularly helpful if you don’t want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen. Seriously, spoon it over fried eggs on a toast or toss the leftover pasta on the pan - and you have an extra flavorful, satisfying lunch on your hands in under 10 minutes.
A tip: try drizzling a bit over your next slice of cheese pizza and see if you ever want to eat pizza without it again.
Whole Cherry Tomato and Roasted Garlic Pasta Sauce by Sacla Italia
An elevated version of one of the most classic Italian sauces, break this one out when you need to impress someone and don’t have much time.
Roasted garlic and parsley add another layer to the sauce, making it feel more expensive and fancy than a regular tomato sauce. Using it cuts the need to look for other ways to amplify the flavor of your dish. It pairs incredibly with red meat and poultry, works as a dipping sauce for roasted vegetables, and can make simple tomato pasta feel like a dish worthy of a Royal.
(Seriously, toss your freshly cooked pasta with a bit of this sauce on the pan, add shredded Grana Padano on top, and a slice or two of roasted chicken. Thank us later).
Pearled Farro by Casino di Caprafico
Farro is a type of hulled wheat, high in protein, fiber, and microelements like magnesium, zinc, and B-group vitamins. It is noted to have a more complicated flavor profile than standard wheat. It is somewhat nutty, reminiscent of brown rice, but lighter and more manageable for a palette of those who tend to be picky with their grains.
Pearled farro is a valuable addition to the pantry of any chef who wishes to add more variety to their dishes. While not used nearly as often, farro pairs well with almost any ingredient. It works great as a side dish to fish, as a base for poke and buddha bowls, and as an addition to soups and salads.
Want to cook something genuinely Italian with farro? Swap the pasta (or rice) in Minestrone for it.
Marinella Porcini Italian Risotto Mix
If you’ve never cooked Italian risotto on your own and are scared to try it yourself, this is the product for you.
The rice is mixed with porcini mushrooms, vegetables, and seasonings for you. All it takes on your part is spending 15 to 17 minutes next to the stove as the packaging instructs.
Add a little shredded parmesan on top once the dish is ready and plated, and you can easily convince people you’ve slaved away for an hour to get this result.
It’s as close as you’ll come if you’re looking to buy easy-to-cook but not ready-made Italian food online. It’s an elevated gourmet version of a meal kit, cutting down on time you’d otherwise spend in the kitchen. And at the same time, it’s an easy starting point for amateur chefs, making it easily understandable what Italian risotto should look like before it leaves the pan.
De Cecco Pesto alla Genovese Pasta Sauce
As Italian sauces go, Classic green pesto sauce (aka pesto alla Genovese) is one of the most famous ones, and for a good reason. Few others are as versatile. While primarily known as a pasta sauce, it can easily take on the role of a sandwich spread, pizza topping, a salad dressing, or a dipping sauce for an amateur chef. People bit more experienced in the kitchen tend to take it a step further by incorporating it in stuffings, marinades, and as an extra ingredient for a unique twist on traditional dishes from other cultures, like Pad Thais, quesadillas, and even pretzels.
De Cecco’s pesto sauce is a simple and traditional recipe made with basil, pine nuts, parmesan, and extra virgin olive oil. It’s an excellent addition to any pantry, even if the owner isn’t particularly interested in cooking.
Vantia Tricolor Gnocchi
These add a fun note to traditional Italian potato dumplings that are oft unfairly overlooked among pasta lovers.
Once correctly cooked, Vantia gnocchi is soft and chewy, with a distinct but not overwhelming potato flavor. They only require a few minutes to cook and pair greatly with many Italian sauces. The traditional tomato sauce, pesto sauce, alfredo sauce, or the nduja sauce we mentioned early - toss them for a bit, and voila, the dinner is ready!
Vantia tricolor gnocchi is particularly helpful if you’ve got small children to feed and they’re feeling picky. The addition of bright red (due to tomato concentrate) and green (due to spinach) to traditional white gnocchi make the meal tasty and fun!
6 Year Aged Balsamic Vinegar of Modena from Elsa
Balsamic vinegar is already a staple in many a household for a reason. It can be used in multiple recipes in multiple ways, with sweet and savory ingredients. Dressings for green and fruity salads, marinades for meat and poultry, and an extra element in a dipping sauce - balsamic vinegar is never extra in any pantry.
Elsa’s balsamic vinegar has a strong and distinct fruity flavor, enhanced due to the aging process. If you like your balsamic vinegar a tad strong and full-bodied aroma, this product is well-suited for your pantry.
Borgo de Medici Pesto Siciliano Pasta Sauce with Walnuts & Ricotta Cheese
We mentioned pesto alla Genovese among the Italian sauces to be added to your pantry, so we cannot skip the Sicilian version in good conscious. The main difference is that it uses tomato pulp for a base along with basil.
Only Borgo de Medici took it a step further and added walnuts and ricotta cheese to elevate the flavor further, and created a product that is almost an independent dish all on its own. Seriously, spread it over a toast, add some cheese, and you already have a meal.
But, just as any traditional pesto, it works fantastically as a pasta sauce, a pizza topping, or a stuffing - so don’t miss your chance to get your hands on it once buying Italian food online.
Asaro White Truffle Olive Oil
White truffle olive oil is a cheat code when it comes to cooking. By adding a slight drizzle of this oil onto your dishes, you can give them a distinct truffle aroma and flavor, making it seem like you’ve cooked something exotic and expensive.
Add a bit to your risotto, add a finishing touch to your pizza, or - hear us out - give a little extra pizzaz to your pasta Aglio e olio. Sometimes we all deserve to feel like we’re dining at a 5-star-restaurant even when we’re on a budget - and few ingredients can help elevate a dish to that level like this product.
Riso Carena Black Truffle Italian Risotto Rice
While on truffles, this is the rice for Italian risotto created specifically for truffle lovers. It’s a top-quality carnaroli rice from Lombardia, which results in a particularly creamy dish and a strong truffle aroma. Its multi-layered taste makes it an easy base, not asking for any extra ingredients. Some fried mushrooms, a sprinkling of shredded parmesan, and you’ve got a delicious dinner on your hands.
Squid Ink Linguine Egg Pasta by La Campofilone
Even if you’re not the type to go looking for gourmet Italian food online, this must be enough to tempt you. Who doesn’t love pasta?
In fact, we bet you’ve got at least a pack or two in your pantry right now. And if you keep pasta in your pantry, you should add this one to your collection (no matter how meager!).
Made from high-quality durum wheat, semolina, and fresh eggs, this pasta has a slightly savory taste and a somewhat coarse texture (due to semolina), lending it more grip on the sauces. Aside from the gorgeously original black color elevating any dish, you add this pasta to visually, squid ink adds slight briny undertones, making it a perfect pairing for seafood-based dishes.
iContadini Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto with Capers and Olives
As far as Italian sauces on our list go, this should be the most exciting entry for amateur chefs trying to tackle more complicated recipes. The addition of capers and olives to this sauce makes it a perfect ingredient for pasta alla puttanesca, with sun-dried tomatoes adding extra depth to the final flavor. If you like spice, add some anchovies (and chili peppers), and you’re good to go.
And if you’re not interested in cooking pasta anytime soon, you can always use this tomato pesto as a sandwich spread or mix it with olive oil and use it over salads.
The complex flavor profile of this sauce doesn’t take away from its versatility one bit.
Tartuflanghe Summer Truffle Slices in Olive Oil
Want to feel like a king? Garnish your dishes with a few slices of this summer truffle. Be it on top of a mushroom or saffron risotto, creamy pasta, or pizza. You can even elevate your Italian sauces with it by shredding a few slices in to make the run-of-the-mill product feel much more fancy and expensive.
How does one choose the right ingredients to stock their pantry?
The internet opens a lot of doors. Looking for quality Italian food online is much easier than your local supermarket.
Think of the flavors you can play within multiple dishes. Of course, you can purchase specific ingredients if your heart is settled on one dish and one dish only, but try looking at your pantry through the right lenses.
If you’re only starting your Italian cooking journey, then mainly focus on simple, straightforward flavors that you are bound to use and re-use not only for Italian dishes, specifically, but incorporate in your day-to-day cooking. Italian sauces tend to work fantastically in sandwiches and salads; arborio rice, while primarily known as Italian risotto rice, can be freely used in soups, puddings, and even fried rice if you want to switch up. And, of course, no pantry wouldn’t benefit from a bottle or two of Italian extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette.
And last, but not least, prioritize the flavors you love. It’s easier than ever before to buy authentic Italian food online is easy these days, and that may tempt you into buying what you don’t need. Think of ingredients that make you feel good. If you want to start experimenting, start with unusual twists on those instead of trying something completely new.