When most people think about classic Italian ingredients they imagine ripe tomatoes, flavoursome garlic and delicious cheeses. However, there are lots of other ingredients that are just as popular in Italy, such as fennel fronds and ‘njuda.
Maybe you’ve never heard of them, or maybe you know and love them. Here are five underrated Italian ingredients that you should look out for.
Fennel bulbs are used in many dishes, but most people throw away the fronds. However, the fronds make an excellent garnish, and they are often used in Italian salads to add a hint of herby freshness. The stalks can also be added to stock to make a delicious base for an Italian soup.
According to Food Facts, fennel fronds are also great for your health. They contain lots of important vitamins, including vitamin B6, thiamine and pantothenic acid.
It may be hard to find ‘nduja in your local Italian restaurant in Dublin, but it is extremely popular in Italy. ‘Nduja is a spreadable spicy sausage that can be used as a paste for bread or as a main ingredient in a variety of sauces and soups. Deep in flavour and slightly like salami, ‘nduja is a seriously delicious Italian secret that should be tried by anyone who loves meat.
Fregola is a pearl shaped pasta that is often served with seafood, such as clams or mussels. They are toasted before they are eaten so they have a rich flavour that is unlike most other pasta dishes. The pearls are larger than couscous, and they taste great in salads, soups and seafood broths.
Capers are edible flower buds that are usually found growing on stone walls in Italy. They are often packed with salt, which enhances their fresh, herby flavour and preserves their crunchy texture. Although capers are underrated you can still find them in Dublin. They are served at Toscana, a wonderful Italian restaurant in the heart of Dublin.
Bottarga is a piece of dried, pressed fish that is extremely popular in Italy. You can get mullet bottarga (which is an orange colour) or tuna bottarga (which is a greyish colour), and both have a savoury briny flavour. You can eat bottarga sliced with bread, or you can add it to pasta and other dishes for extra flavour.