Essential Italian Spices continued

rosemary leafRosemary: The fresh, sweetly strong taste of rosemary is delightful with poultry, fish, and seafood. Italian cooks often add it to roasted lamb with potatoes and many grilled meats as well. Try it in any vegetable dish and in breads, especially focaccia.

Sage: Aromatic sage is typically found in stuffings, poultry and meat dishes, sausages and soups. Italian cooks also use it, along with garlic, to flavor butter for pasta dishes. It enhances salads (especially bean salads), and dressings, too. Sage is traditional in Tuscan white beans and in Saltimbocca, a veal dish.

Chilies: Italian cooks sometimes use pungent chili peppers to enliven sauces, stews, and seafood dishes. They're also often found in Italian sausages. Experiment with different varieties for different effects.

fennel seedsFennel Seeds: The distinct, licorice-like taste of fennel is found in Italian meatballs and sausage and with roasted meats and fish. To enhance the flavor, toast the seeds lightly before adding to your dish.

Chives: For a mild onion flavor and lovely color, Italian cooks use chives in salads and dressings, pasta dishes, casseroles, soups and stews. Dried chives are a convenient staple.

Marjoram: Like its relative oregano, marjoram is used liberally in Italian kitchens. It's a versatile seasoning, compatible with many vegetables, meats and poultry. You'll find it in recipes for Italian soups, stews, sauces, and salad dressings.  

thyme leafThyme: Its affinity for tomatoes makes thyme a good choice in Italian cooking. Aromatic and pungent, it takes just a light touch to season poultry, seafood, fish, meats, marinades and stuffings.

Bay: Bay leaves are an important addition to Italian broths, soups and stews, grilled meats, and roasted poultry. It generally takes just one leaf to fully season a large serving.

Onions: "Sauté onion and garlic" begins many an Italian recipe. Dried onion flakes, onion powder, onion granules, minced onion and onion salt provide maximum convenience. Add them directly to soups and sauces, dressings and casseroles — any recipe calling for onion flavor.

Nutmeg: Not just a dessert spice in the Italian kitchen, nutmeg adds a lovely, rich scent and flavor to ravioli filling and tortellini dishes. You'll also find it in recipes for Bolognese meat sauce and Italian stews.