5 Herbs & Spices Every Italian Cook Needs in Their Kitchen - Ombretta Cucina + Vino

5 Herbs & Spices Every Italian Cook Needs in Their Kitchen

5 Herbs & Spices Every Italian Cook Needs in Their Kitchen

Knowing which spices and herbs to use while making delectable Italian dishes is crucial for any excellent cook. All of the flavours found in the beautiful Italian cuisine are derived from the spices used by the cook. That is why, aside from fresh vegetables and exquisite olive oil, Italian spices and herbs are without a doubt the most important component of Italian food. There are several types of these substances, thus the question is which Italian spices and herbs produce which sort of flavour and are often featured in Italian meals. So, here’s a list of 5 herbs and spices that every Italian cook should have in their kitchen.


The lustrous, deep green, pointy leaves of this mint family member have a complex taste with undertones of anise, mint, and pepper. Sweet basil, Thai sweet basil, lemon basil, and holy basil are all varieties of the herb. Basil is used to enhance the taste of foods ranging from Italian sauces to meat dishes to Asian curries in both fresh and dried form. Pesto, a sauce composed with fresh basil, Parmesan cheese, pine nuts, garlic, kosher salt, black pepper, and olive oil, also contains this beloved herb. Chefs in Italy frequently combine basil and tomato sauce to produce marinara pasta sauce. Basil is also an important element in Margherita pizza.


Prezzemolo, or parsley in Italian, is one of the most often used herbs in Italian cuisine. You’ll be unlikely to find a pasta, sauce, or soup recipe that doesn’t call for it. Flat-leaf and curly-leaf parsley are also available, but flat-leaf parsley is more popular in Italian cookery that it is known as Italian parsley. Flat leaf has a stronger flavour and is ideal for seasoning meals while they cook, whereas curly leaf is great for fine chopping and garnishing. Because of its inherent propensity to enhance other flavours in any meal, parsley is most typically used to compliment spicy ingredients. It also contains a lot of vitamins and minerals.


Sage has a bitter and pungent flavour and aroma. With over 900 distinct species, selecting the perfect herb for the home herb garden is difficult. True sage, often known as clary sage, is the indisputable kitchen favourite. If you want something a little more exotic, try lime, pineapple, even marzipan sage. Sage is popular in meat recipes and, for example, is required in the creation of saltimbocca. Sage is also a great addition to soups, grilled salmon, and spicy penne gorgonzola. If you want a lighter sage flavour in your meal, use the young leaves of your plant; for greater intensity, use the elder ones. Furthermore, sage is simple and fragrant, so it would mix well in butters used in a basic pasta sauce. You would commonly find this mixture in dishes that include fresh gnocchi. Sage, by the way, makes fatty meals more digestible and this positive effect was discovered in ancient times.


Thyme is a favourite herb among cooks and gardeners due to its tiny, light green leaves and strong perfume. Fresh thyme is a hardy herb that may be used throughout the cooking process and can withstand high temperatures. This herb, which comes in three kinds (French thyme, English thyme, and German thyme), is typically used in robust meals like pork loin, lemony chicken breasts, and fatty meats because it can stand up to heavy tastes. Depending on what is most convenient for you, the herb can be used fresh or dried. However, it is crucial to note that the flavour of the fresh version is stronger.


The rosemary plant is a Mediterranean-native perennial shrub and is also very easy to grow yourself. In Latin, the name of this herb means “dew of the sea.” Rosemary is a member of the mint family, just like Basil and is noted for its distinctive woody stems with needle-like leaves and evergreen perfume, which is found in the oil stored within the herb’s dark green needles. To give your dish that peppery, woody taste from the rosemary, all you need to do is add a bit of it at the start of your cooking process. Rosemary is a significant component in many Italian roast potato dishes as well as focaccia.

Italian dishes are full of spices and herbs, which explains why they are so complex in flavour and taste. There are many herbs and spices used in these kinds of dishes but the most essential ones are basil, parsley, sage, thyme and rosemary. All of these substances give off their own unique flavour and all of them can be found in any Italian restaurant and kitchen. It is an understatement to say that Italian cuisine is one of the most delectable cuisines in the world and the reason for their success all starts with the herbs and spices that they use.

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