Italian Ingredient Glossary A to N
ABBACCHIO & AGNELLO – Lamb. Younger animals are called abbacchio and are usually spit roasted whole. Older lamb is called agnello, and has a stronger flavor. This lamb is usually roasted or stewed.
ACETO – Italians make both red and white wine vinegars as a by-product from their wine production. See also Balsamic vinegar.
ACETO BALSAMICO – This is considered the best of all Italian vinegars. It is dark brown in color, and has a mellow, sweet flavor. The best balsamico is produced around Modena. See more about Balsamic Vinegar.
ALCHERMES – A red-colored liqueur made from flowers and spices with a slightly bitter taste, traditionally used to make Zuppa Inglese.
AFFETTATO – A selection of cold cuts or cold meats often served as an antipasto.
AGLIO – Garlic. Actually a member of the lily family, garlic is a common ingredient in Italian cuisine. In moderate quantities, it adds flavor to almost any sauce, soup or stew. Garlic is also commonly used with roasted or grilled meats. See more about Garlic.
AGNOLOTTI – A Piedmontese stuffed pasta which was born as a way of using left-over meats, agnolotti are made differently depending on the meat available, local habit and the preferences of the cook. Agnolotti can be served in a broth, tossed with melted butter and fresh sage, or lavished with a truffle sauce or gravy from roasts. See more about Stuffed Pasta.
AGRUMI – A general term referring to all citrus fruits.
ALBICOCCA – Appricot. Apricots, are not widely cultivated in Italy, although they are a popular fruit and used in many desserts.
ALLORO – Bay Leaf. It is almost always used dry. One dried leaf is enough to flavour most dishes, and must be removed after cooking.
ALMONDS – See Mandorle
AMARO – A bitter aperitivo much appreciated in Italy flavored with herbs. Generally consumed before meals.
AMARENA – Morello cherries. A bitter cherry grown in Italy most commonly preserved in syrup or brandy.
AMARETTI – A traditional crunchy cookie in Italy made with ground almonds. See recipe for Amaretti
ANATRA – Duck. The wild variety, masaro, is preferred for its flavor, but domestic ducks are raised as a market variety. Ducks are stewed, roasted, or braised, the breasts often grilled or sauted.
ANCHOVIES – See Filletti di Acciughe
ANIMELLE – Sweetbreads. From the thymus glands of a calf, usually sauted or grilled, and often chopped up and used in pastas as a filling.
ANISE – Small plant from the parsley family with a sweet licorice flavor.
ANISETTE – Clear and sweet liqueur made with anise seeds.
APERITIVO – An alcoholic beverage often consumed before meals in Italy and thought to stimulate the appetite and promote digestion.
ARANCIA – Orange. Many varieties of oranges are grown in southern Italy and Sicily, including one of the most famous Sicilian orange, the blood orange which has bright ruby red flesh. Oranges are most commonly eaten fresh, or their juice used in desserts.
ARAGOSTA – Spiny or rock lobster, not as large as the American lobster, usually eaten boiled or grilled, often cold with a lemon or mayonnaise dressing.
AROMI – A general term for herbs like rosemary, thyme, basil, and bay leaves used in Italian cooking. See more about cooking with Italian Herbs.
ARUGULA – See Rucola
ASIAGO – An Italian cheese from the Veneto region. When young, is mild and eaten on it’s own. After it has aged, it has a more piquant, saltier flavor and is usually used only for grating and cooking. See more about Italian Cheeses.
ASAPARAGI – Asparagus. Both white and green varieties are available across Italy. Young spears are simply boiled, steamed or roasted and dressed with olive oil and grated cheese.
AUBERGINE- See Melanzane
BACCALA – Salted dried cod. Also known as stoccafisso although true stockfish is dried but unsalted. Baccala must be soaked for a couple of days, changing the water often before it can be used. See recipe for Baccala.
BACON – See Pancetta
BAGNET – In a dialect of Piedmont, this means sauce (“little bath”). A red and a green version are common, and both are used to accompany bollito misto, a typically Piedmontese assortment of boiled meats. The red bagnet features tomatoes, carrots, celery, onions, and garlic that are cooked for half an hour, to which wine vinegar and sugar are added; the sauce is then simmered for two more hours. The green bagnet is a piquant blend of anchovies, hard-boiled egg yolks, parsley, garlic, capers, bread that has been soaked in milk and squeezed dry, extra-virgin olive oil and salt and pepper.
BALSAMIC VINEGAR – See Aceto Balsamico
BARBATIETOLE – Beets. This red, succulent root of a biennial plant (Beta vulgaris). Often dressed with vinegar and served cold and sliced, but can also be served hot. Beets have a sweet, earthy flavor when roasted.
BASILICO – Basil. An herb with an intense aroma and sweet flavor it is associated with Italian cuisine more than any other herb. Often used in tomato sauces, pizza, salads, soups and omlets. See more about Basil
BATTUTA – A mixture of onion, garlic, fatback, and other ingredients added for flavoring a stew or soup. If sauted, it is called a soffritto.
BAVETTE – Ribbon shaped long pasta.
BECIAMELLA – Bechamel sauce. A white sauce made from butter, and milk thickened with flour that is used in many dishes in an Italian kitchen. See recipe for Bechamel Sauce.
BEETS – See Barbabietole
BELL PEPPER – See Peperoni
BEL PAESE – A creamy, light Italian cheese with a mild, sweet flavor. Used as a spread or in cooking as it melts well. See more about Italian Cheeses.
BIETOLA – Swiss Chard. Popular all year round across Italy and used in many dishes.
BIGA – A starter made for bread from flour, yeast and water. See recipe for Biga.
BIGOLI – Long, spaghetti-like dry pasta with a hole in the center. Traditionally they were made with buckwheat flour, but are more commonly made with whole wheat flour now.
BISCOTTI – Cookies whose name means “twice baked” that are very crunchy and made to dip into coffee or wine. See recipes for Biscotti.
BOCCON – A style of pasta from Veneto traditionally made with ricotta cheese and spinach mixed into the dough.
BOCCONCINI – “Little balls” of fresh Mozzarella. Mozzarella cheese is produced in Albruzzi-Molise and Campania and is made from fresh cows milk. Mozzarella is the larger of the balls of cheese produced in the process. The smaller balls are the bocconcini. See more about Italian Cheese.
BORLOTTI BEANS – A small red speckled pink bean often used in soups and stews. Most often used dried rather than fresh.
BOTTARGA – These are dried, salted and pressed roe of grey mullet or tuna and a specialty of Sardinia, Sicily and Veneto. Most often it is served as an antipasto thinly sliced and dressed with olive oil, or grated over pasta.
BOVOLO – Snail. Usually sauted with garlic and olive oil.
BRANZINO – Also known as spigola, this fish is known as sea bass in North America. Often cooked whole, it is delicate in flavor and has few bones.
BRESAOLA – Cured raw beef similar in appearance to prosciutto. A specialty of Lombardy, but enjoyed across Italy. Most often it is served as an appetizer, sliced very thin and drizzled with olive oil and lemon.
BROCCOLI RABE – See Cima di Rape
BROCOLETTI – Broccoli. Usually boiled or steamed, sauted in olive oil and garlic or served cold with olive oil and lemon.
BRODETTO – A general term for any fish soup or chowder.
BRODO – Broth or stock. Can be made from vegetables, meats or fish. See basic Broth Recipes.
BUCATINI – Long strands of dry pasta with a hole in the center.
BURRO – Butter. Italian butter usually contains a higher fat content than American butter. It is used more in the north of Italy, particularly with pastries, and in some pasta or risotto dishes, but very little is used to cook with.
CACIOCAVALLO – From southern Italy, caciocavallo (meaning “cheese on horseback”) comes from cow’s milk and has a mild, slightly salty flavor and firm, smooth texture when young (about 2 months). As it ages, the flavor becomes more pungent and the texture more granular, making it ideal for grating. See more about Italian Cheese.
CALAMARI – Squid or cuttlefish. Very popular in Italy either deep fried or lightly boiled and served in a seafood salad. The black ink from this seafood is used to flavor and color both pasta and risotto. See recipe for Fried Calamari.
CANERDERLI – A specialty of Trentino-Adige, these bread dumplings are the Italian version of Austrian and German knÃƒÂ¶del. Often served in rich meat broths, they are made with stale white or rye bread moistened in milk and bound with eggs, and frequently flavored with parsley, speck (a local cured ham), nutmeg, and caraway seeds. Liver is sometimes add to make canederli al fegato.
CANELLA – Cinnamon. It is most often used for baking desserts and cookies.
CANNELLINI BEANS – A white bean popular across Italy but particularly in Tuscany. Mild in flavor and shaped like a kidney bean, it is rarely eaten fresh, only dried. See more on Cannellini Beans.
CANNELLONI – Literally translated as “big tubes”, this pasta is rolled around a savory filling, topped with a sauce and baked. See recipe for Cannelloni.
CANTUCCI – Hard, almond flavored biscuits or cookies commonly called biscotti outside of Italy. Originating from Tuscany, they are designed to be dipped into coffee or a sweet wine called vin santo. See recipe for Cantucci.
CAPPELLACCI – Named for their appearance as “small hats”, this pasta originates from Emilia Romagna.
CAPELLI D’ANGELO – Angel hair pasta. Best served with a light sauce.
CAPPERI – Capers are intensely flavored flower buds of a wild Mediterranean shrub. Either preserved in vinegar or salt they add a piquant, peppery flavor to Italian dishes.
CAPRINI – Goat cheese. This cheese has a very pungent flavor which becomes much stronger as it ages. Fresh it is used in salads or as an appetizer. See more about Italian Cheese.
CAPRA – Goat. Either roasted, grilled, or, if tough, stewed.
CAPSICUM – A large fleshy pepper with a sweet/mild flavour. Can be orange, red, yellow, green or black. Also known as Bell Pepper.
CARDI – Cardoons. This vegetable which resembles celery is actually part of the artichoke family. They are eaten raw in salads, and fried, braised or baked as a side dish.
CARCIOFI – Italian artichokes. Originating in Sicily where they grow wild, they are now cultivated across Italy. A specialty of Roman cooking, they are often braised or boiled before eating. Small, tender, young artichokes can be thinly sliced, dressed as a salad, and eaten raw. See more about Artichokes.
CARNE – General term referring to all meat.
CAROTA – Carrot. Combined with onions and celery it is part of the “holy trinity” in soffritto.
CASTAGNE – Chestnuts. An important ingredient in Tuscan, Ligurian and Sardinian cuisine, both fresh, and dried and milled into flour. Chestnuts are poached in wine, roasted, or fried in butter as a garnish. In Piedmonte, they candy chestnuts to make marrons glace.
CAVOLO – Cabbage. An important ingredient in many hearty winter soups, there are a number of varieties found in Italy. Cavolo Nero is a very dark leafy cabbage found in Tuscany.
CAVATELLI – This pasta looks like a small ridged square that has curled up.
CAVOLFIORE – Cauliflower. Cooked in many ways including in tomato sauce. Also is used in a traditional pasta sauce. See recipe for Cauliflower.
CECI – Also known as garbanzo beans, or chickpeas. Shaped like small hazelnuts, they have a nutty flavor.
CHICKPEAS – See Ceci above.
CHITARRINE – A traditional pasta of Abruzzo made with a board with wires running across it on which the dough is rolled creating square shaped spaghetti like strands.
CIOCCOLATA – Chocolate.
CICORIA DI CAMPO – Dandelions. This peppery wild leaf can now be found in a cultivated version which tends to have a little milder flavor. Young leaves are served in salads, while older, more bitter leaves should be braised.
CIMA DI RAPE – Broccole Rabe. A green bitter vegetable unless harvested young. Looks like broccoli but has skinnier stalks. The leaves, stems and florets are eaten. Really good sauteed with garlic and olive oil and served over pasta. Also known as Italian broccoli, rabe, rapini. See recipe for Cima di Rape.
CINGHIALE – Wild boar. These are the ancestors of domestic pigs which used to roam wild in the forests of Tuscany and Sradinia. The meat is used in the same manner as pork.
CIPOLLE – Onion. This vegetable plays an important part in Italian cuisine, and a number of varieties grow in Italy. The red variety are the most common variety used for general cooking. See more about Onions.
CLAMS – See Vongole
COCKLES – See Clams
CONFETTURA – Jam. Also called marmellata, which originally meant citrus fruit marmalade.
CONIGLIO – Rabbit. Farmed and wild rabbits are often used in place of veal or chicken in Italian cuisine. It is often slow braised with herbs, wine and vegetables.
CONCHIGLE – A shell shaped dry pasta that cradles a chunky sauce well.
CONCENTRATO O PUREA DI POMODORO – Tomato Paste or Tomato Concentrate. A thick deep red paste bought in tubes or cans used in small quantities to thicken sauces or give colour and to enhance flavour.
CONFECTIONER’S SUGAR – Powdered Sugar.
COPPA – A salted and dried sausage made from the neck or shoulder of pork often used in sandwiches or as an antipasto. It is deep red in color and can be found in both mild and spicy versions.
CORDIAL – A liqueur, or sweet alcoholic beverage, most often consumed after dinner. See Italian Liqueurs.
CORNFLOUR – A starch usually made from wheat. Used to thicken sauces etc. Also called cornstarch.
CORNMEAL – Ground corn used in polenta.
COSTOLETTA – Cutlet or chop of pork, lamb or veal, also called cotoletta, the popular term for breaded veal cutlet. Cotoletta Milanese is a thinly breaded veal chop fried golden brown and served with lemon wedges.
COTECHINO – This is a large, fresh sausage lightly spiced and salted. It is a specialty of Emilia Romagna, and is often served on a bed of stewed lentils.
COURGETTE – See zucchiniZucchini
COUSCOUS – The separated grain of the wheat plant. When dried and milled, it becomes semolina flour, which is what pasta is made out of. However, as a grain, it makes a terrific rice substitute that has the advantage of being more flavorful (nutty with an interesting texture as long as it is not over cooked) as well as about five times quicker to make than rice.
COZZE – Mussels. These are used in many pasta and fish dishes, as well as served on their own after steaming them in a flavorful broth. See recipe for Cozze.
CREMA – Pastry cream or custard.
CRESCENZA – A rich, creamy, fresh cheese, also known as Crescenza Stracchino , that’s widely made in Italy’s regions of Lombardy, Piedmont and Veneto. Its texture and flavor are similiar to that of a mild cream cheese, and it becomes very soft and spreadable at room temperature. See more about Italian Cheese.
CRESPELLE – Crepes. These thin pancake like sheets are filled with a savory filling for a first course, or a sweet filling for dessert. See recipe for Crespelle.
CROSTATA – An open faced tart, either sweet or savory.
DADO – Bouillon cube for making meat, vegetable, or fish stocks.
DANDELION – See dandelionCicoria di Campo
DIAVOLILLO – Abruzzo and Molise’s super-hot chili pepper, or peperoncino rosso – Diavolillo nearly defines the cooking of these two regions. Since Abruzzo and Molise are fond of spicy food, you’ll find minced chili infusing in local olive oil, ready to pour on soups, marinades for meat or poultry, and most commonly to sauce spaghetti. Spaghetti al Diavolillo is a signature dish of the area that uses this hot chili. Diavolillo is also dried and ground, flavoring much of the food in Abruzzo and Molise.
DIGESTIVO – An alcoholic beverage found in bars and restaurants across Italy. Thought to have properties to aid in digestion.
DRAGONCELLO – Tarragon, a seasoning herb. See more about Italian Culinary Herbs..
EGGPLANT – See Melanzane
ERBA CIPOLLINA – Chives. See more about Italian Culinary Herbs..
ESPRESSO – Coffee in Italy. See more about Italian Coffee.
ESTRATTO – Extract. Can be such flavors as lemon or vanilla, or even beef.
FAGIANO – Pheasant, usually grilled, roasted or stewed.
FAGIOLI – Beans in Italian. See individual types.
FAGIOLINI – String beans, either yellow or green. Usually boiled and served cold or stewed with tomato, garlic and herbs.
FARAONA – Guinea Fowl or Hen. This bird is very popular in Italy and is prepared as you would prepare chicken. They are often pot roasted, or cooked in a casserole with wild mushrooms and other seasonings.
FARFALLE – This dried pasta is often called bowties or butterflies for it’s shape.
FARINA – Flour. Most Italian bakers use 00 or doppio zero flour which is softer than all-purpose flour. If you cannot find it, use 2 tablespoons less of all-purpose flour per cup than the recipe calls for.
FARRO – Farro in Italian, this hard wheat is most often used in Tuscan cuisine. One of the hardest of all grains, it must be soaked for a long period before cooking, and is commonly used in soups and salads. See recipe for Zuppa di Farro.
FAVA – Fava beans are best eaten very fresh in the spring and early summer when they are small and tender. Later, they can be cooked and skinned. Very popular around Rome they are often served with prosciutto or pecorino cheese. See recipe for Fava Beans.
FAZZOLETTI – Named for an irregular handerkerchief, these delicate pasta sheets are folded over a savory filling and topped with sauce and commonly baked.
FECOLA – A starch such as corn starch used for thickening and baking.
FEGATO – Liver. Usually calves liver is preferred. Fegato alla Veneziano is a famous dish made with liver.
FETTUCCINE – A broad, fresh long strand pasta commonly made from eggs and flour. See recipe for Egg Pasta.
FICO – Figs. Figs are grown across Italy, and are eaten both fresh in the summer months and dried throughtout the rest of the year. Figs can be either purple or green, and both are sweet and tender when ripe. Often served on their own, figs are often served with nuts, prosciutto, salami, or cooked in desserts.
FILBERTS – See Nociole. Also known as hazelnuts.
FILLETTI DI ACCIUGHE – Anchovies. These are small fish preserved in oil or salt and often used in Italian dishes for flavoring.
FINOCCHIO – Fennel. Yet another important vegetable to Italian cuisine, it has a delicate flavor of aniseed and a very crisp, refreshing texture similar to celery. Often eaten raw, it also makes a great vegetable side dish baked or braised.
FINOCCHIELLA – Fennel Seeds. Yellowish in color and very fragrant, fennel grows wild in the highlands of Italy. The seeds are used to flavor roasts of meat and fish, as well as cured meats and sausages.
FIORE DI LATTE – “Flower of milk,” a soft fresh cow’s milk mozzarella. See more about Italian Cheese.
FONDUTA – Cheese Fondue. A mixture of melted cheese (usually Fontina) and wine into which foods like bread and vegetables are dipped, typical of Northern Italy. It may also be used as a sauce for vegetables.
FONTINA – Genuine Fontina cheese comes from the Val d’Aosta area in Italy. It is a young cheese, with a mild, nutty flavor and creamy texture. Although it is great on it’s own, since it melts so well, it is often used in cooking. See more about Italian Cheese.
FRAGOLA – Strawberry. Fragola di bosco or selvatica is the wild type.
FRISELLE – Also known as Frisedde or Frise, this is a hard twice-cooked bread roll that looks similar to a split bagel, which is first soaked in water, then dressed with tomatoes, oregano and extra-virgin olive oil.
FRUTTA DI BOSCO – “Fruit of the forest”. Refers to a mix of berries often served with lemon, sugar, or ice cream.
FUNGHI – General name for mushrooms. See Porcini
FUSILLI – Short, twisted corkscrew like pasta that holds sauce well.
GALLINA – Fowl. See Poultry Recipes.
GAMBERETTI – Shrimp. There are many varieties of shrimp in the waters around Italy, including gambaretti, small pink shrimp, gamberelli, larger shrimp most often used in fritto misto or mixed fry, and larger still are gamberi. Shrimp are used in a vast number of Italian recipes. See recipe for Shrimp Scampi.
GARBANZO BEANS – See Ceci
GARGANELLI – This fresh pasta is a square that is rolled around a dowel over a ridged comb like tool. It’s final appearance is a grooved, diamond shaped tube.
GARLIC – See Aglio
GELATINA – Gelatin. Often used to make aspic dishes.
GELATO – Frozen dessert, such as ice cream or sherbet, of wide-ranging flavors, chiefly fruit, nuts and chocolate. See recipes for Gelato.
GEMELLI – Translated as “twins”, this dried pasta looks like two strands of short pasta twisted together.
GNOCCHI – These are small dumplings, and can be made from just about any starchy vegetable (commonly the potato), ricotta cheese, or semolina flour. They are served like pasta or risotto, as a first course, and should be light in texture, and almost melt in the mouth. See recipes for Gnocchi.
GORGONZOLA – This is an Italian blue cheese that is creamy in color with greenish blue veining throughout. Young, it has an almost sweet, mellow flavor, although once aged it can become quite powerful. See more about Italian Cheese.
GRANA – Two of Italy’s most widely acclaimed cheeses, Parmigiano Reggiano and Grana Padano, belong to the Grana (granular) group of cheeses, those finely-grained hard cheeses which originated in the Po Valley to the north of the country. They are basically very similar cheeses although of the two, Grana Padano matures marginally faster. See more about Italian Cheese.
GRANCHIO – Crab of various types, which may be boiled, roasted, baked, or grilled.
GRANITA – Made by freezing liquid (often coffee or lemon juice) into crystals of grainy texture. Granita are usually made with a simple flavored sugar syrup rather than an egg custard or cream base as gelato is.
GRAPPA – A colorless alcohol with an alcohol content of 40 percent distilled from the pressed skins and seeds of the grapes left after wine making.
HAZELNUTS – See Nociole. Also known as filberts.
ICING SUGAR – see Sugar and other sweeteners
INDIVIA – Endive. Refers to all types in this family such as invidia riccia and scarola (curly and broad-leafed escarole), and invidia belga (Belgian endive).
INSALATA – A general name referring to all salads. Popular examples are insalata mista (mixed), insalata verde (greens only); insalata russa (mixed cooked vegetables diced with mayonnaise). Insalata di mare is a mix of cold seafood. See recipes for Salads.
INVOLTINI – Rolls of thinly sliced veal, pork or fish cooked with a stuffing.
LADYFINGERS- See savoiardi Savoiardi
LAMPONE – Raspberries. Either eaten fresh or made into granita or gelato.
LARDO – An extremely fatty bacon always used in cooking.
LASAGNA – A baked layered pasta dish made throughout Italy with many variations. See recipes for Lasagna.
LATTE – Milk.
LATTUGA – General name for lettuce.
LEAVENING AGENTS – Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate. It must be mixed with acidic ingredients to work. Baking powder contains baking soda and a powdered acid, so it can work without other acidic ingredients.
LENTICCHIE – Lentils. They grow in a pod in the area around Umbria, and are always podded and dried before using. Often stewed with vegetables as a side dish, or made into a salad, they also are served with zampone or cotecchino. See recipe for Lentil Soup.
LIMONE – Lemon. Lemons grow across Italy, both in some of the northern regions as well as the south. The Almafi coast however is the most famous region in Italy growing lemons where they flourish. The juice of the lemon is used in many Italian dishes, and enhances the flavor of many vegetable, meat, and seafood dishes.
LIQUORI – Liqueur. The term covers the range of distilled spirits, such as grappa and brandy, and compositions, such as amaro, limonello and sambuca. See recipes for Italian Liqueurs.
LONZA – Cured pork tenderloin. Usually roasted.
LUGANEGA – This sausage is a specialty of northern Italy, and is made from pork, often containing parmesan cheese.
LUMACHE – Snails. Often prepared with garlic and olive oil.
MAIONESE – Mayonnaise.
MAIALE – Pork. Much of the pork in Italy is turned into sausage, salami and hams, although Italians across Italy do enjoy fresh pork. Common methods of cooking it are roasting, grilling, and braising it with milk. Roasemary and sage are both popular herbs used with pork. See recipes for Pork.
MALLOREDDUS – A southern Italian style of gnocchi made with semolina flour. In Sardinia, they also add saffron to the dough.
MANDORLE – Almonds. Two varieties of almonds are grown and used in Italy, dolci or sweet almonds used in desserts and baking, and mandorle amare or bitter almonds which are used in liqueurs and in ammaretti cookies.
MANICOTTI – Large tube maccheroni stuffed with a ricotta cheese filling and baked.
MANZO – Beef. Although much of the beef found in Italy is though to be of poorer quality than that found in North America, Tuscan beef from Val di Chiana used in the famous bistecche alla fiorentna is thought to rival any other beef worlwide. Less tender cuts of beef are stewed, braised or ground. See recipes for Beef.
MARSALA WINE – A sweet Sicilian wine that adds a special flavour to meat dishes and desserts. See recipe for Veal Marsala.
MARZAPANE – Marzipan. Sweetened almond paste used in a variety of desserts.
MASCARPONE – A soft Italian cheese that is a delicately flavored tripple cream cheese. Often used in the same fashion as whipped cream, it is an important ingredient in Tiramisu. See more about Italian Cheese.
MELA Apple. Widely used in pastry and desserts.
MELANZANE – Often considered the Queen of Italian vegetables, this particular vegetable is especially popular in southern Italy. In Italy, there are a number of varieties of eggplants found, including the usual large purple variety, a delicate white version, and a striped reddish pink version. Very versatile, they add a depth of flavor to any dish they are added to. Perhaps the most famous dish known using eggplants is Eggplant Parmesan. See more about Eggplants.
MELOGRANA – Pomegranate. Principally used as a flavoring and coloring in beverages.
MELONE- Melons. A variety of fruit which all have a thick, hard, inedible rind, sweet meat, and lots of seeds. Common examples are watermelon and cantaloupe.
MENTA – Mint. Many varietes are used in cooking to flavor meats and vegetables such as zucchini and eggplants. See more about cooking with Italian Herbs.
MIELE – Honey. There are numerous different varieties of flavored honey throughout Italy.
MIRTILLO – Blueberry. Eaten fresh or used in desserts.
MOLECA Soft shell crab. Very popular in Venice when in season, and most commonly served fried.
MOSTARDA DI CREMONA – Mustard Fruit Chutney. This Italian specialty consists of candied fruit chutney with a bite of mustard flavor that originates from Cremona. This relish is usually served with cotecchino, or a combination of boiled meats called bolito misto.
MORTADELLA – This sausage originates from Bologna. It has a distinctive pink color, and is studded with cubes of creamy fat and sometimes pistachios. It is usually thinly slices and eaten cold in sandwichesor as an antipasto with other cold cuts.
MOSTO DI VINO – Wine must. Made into a syrup and used in many traditional recipes as a sweetener.
MOZZARELLA – Mozzarella is a soft, white cheese with a very delicate flavor that is the cheese of choice for most recipes calling for a melting cheese. Buffalo mozzarella is made from water buffaloes aound the Naples area, and is best eaten fresh. See more about Italian Cheese.
MUSSELS – See Cozze
NOCIOLE – Hazelnuts or filberts. Along with almonds, these are one of the most commonly used nuts in Italian desserts and baking.
NOCI – Walnuts. Grown throughout central and southern Italy they are usually eaten straight from the shell as a dessert. As well as a popular ingredient in desserts, they are also ground and chopped and used in a delicious sauce for pasta.
NOCINO – Bittersweet liqueur made with green walnuts in their husks. See recipe for Nocino.
NUTELLA – A thick smooth paste made from chocolate and hazelnuts. Can be spread on plain cookies, bread, or toast.