Tag Archive for: fresh

Cooking Italian Food? Only Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Will Do!

Fruit such as tomatoes, eggplant, string beans and squash are often mistaken for vegetables because they are used in savory cooking. Grocery stores and cookbooks only add to the confusion by labeling and organizing produce according to culinary usage, rather than botanical classification. A basic rule of thumb: if the edible plant in question has seeds in it, it’s probably a fruit.

Fresh, fresh, fresh is the only way to go. Italians use many fruits and vegetables in their cooking, making Italian food not only flavorful, but one of the healthiest types of cuisines. The types of fruits and veggies used are what characterizes the regional differences in Italian food.

Southern Italian – Because the South is much warmer, with a much longer growing season, southern Italians use fruits that thrive under warmer conditions (like tomatoes!) For this reason, many dishes with red sauces are more popular in Southern Italian cuisine than Northern. Some other popular Southern fruits and vegetables include eggplant and broccoli rabe.

Northern Italian – In the Northern regions of Italy, vegetables that thrive in cooler temperatures and less sunlight are more popular. Some of these include:

  • Head cabbages
  • Black leaf kale
  • Cardoons
  • Radicchio

In both Italy and America, there are many fruits and vegetables that are used in fine Italian cooking. For example:

Eggplant – This is a versatile fruit, used in a variety of Italian dishes, and is one of the most prominent staples of Southern Italian cooking. It can have a slightly bitter taste when raw, but when it is cooked, it becomes very tender with a rich, complex flavor.

Greens (spinach, kale, chard, endive, escarole, chicory, etc) – Italian cooking uses greens that are flavorful and loaded with nutrients. The many greens that are a part of the Italian diet are also a great way to incorporate flavor and nutrition into the American diet. Radicchio or endive are popular in Italian cooking, but are also served raw in salads for tasty side dish.

Sweet bell peppers – These delicious peppers are used throughout Italy and are popular in the United States as well. Sweet bell peppers are wonderful for adding color, flavor, and nutrition to any fine Italian dish.

Pasta primavera without fresh veggies? Unheard of. And what’s an Insalata without fresh veggies…well, not Insalata for one thing. Broccoli rabe, spinach, portobello mushrooms, zucchini, arugula, squash, escarole, cucumbers, tomatoes…the list goes on and on. Rest assured that you’re eating healthy when enjoying our fruit and veggie dishes.

What are the Best Italian Tomatoes?

Is it the color? The flavor? The versatility? What is it about the tomato that makes it a staple of every Italian kitchen? Let’s begin with a little history.

According to Wikipedia, the recorded history of tomatoes in Italy dates back to October 31, 1548.

It was said, on that date, the grand duke of Tuscany wrote to the Medici private secretary informing him that the basket of tomatoes sent from the duke’s Florentine estate at Torre del Gallo “had arrived safely.”

Soon after their arrival in Italy, tomatoes were primarily grown as ornamental plants and “were to be sought only for their beauty”, according to the Florentine aristocrat Giovanvettorio Soderini.

At this time, they were grown only in gardens or flower beds. What a shame! Because tomatoes have an ability to mutate and create new, different varieties, they successfully spread throughout Italy.

So many kinds. So many styles. Which to use or how to use them, that is the question. Here are just a few of our favorite ways to enjoy the almighty tomato at Rosedale Brick Oven:

Fresh Garden Tomatoes

Cut thick and layered between fresh basil and fresh mozzarella cheese in a caprese salad…it’s heavenly.

Enjoy them diced and put over a fresh salad or mouth-watering pizza. Bruschetta, with its diced garden tomatoes is an all-time favorite.

San Marzano Tomatoes D.O.P. (Denominazione di Origine Protetta)

D.O.P. Certified San Marzano are the best Italian tomatoes in our opinion. These plum tomatoes are the only tomato accepted by Italian pizza makers (pizzaioli) in Napoli. The D.O.P. is assigned by the European Union to a product that owes its characteristics to its place of origin.

We use only the actual tomatoes in our wood fired pizzas for that authentic Napoli taste. These thick, sweet fruits are used in all our pasta dishes as well as our meatballs’ sauces.

Don’t be fooled by San Marzano style tomatoes. These are not the same. They are San Marzano seeds grown in soil outside San Marzano.