Spices and aromatic herbs have always been part of Italian cuisine due to their several benefits for the human body. Let yourself be transported into a world of flavors, colors and aromas by the 5 Italian spices that you cannot say no to!
Spices and their properties
With the term spices we generally refer to plant-based aromatic substances used to give flavor to foods, drinks and aromatic waters but also for the making of natural remedies. Generally speaking spices are different from herbs because they ate not fresh but dry. However, both have in common the fact that they are essential allies in the kitchen because on the one hand they help to make customized recipes both in terms of taste and aroma, while on the other hand they boost the functional value of even the easiest of recipes.
Italian Traditions offers you 5 Italian spices that will help you:
- Cut down on the use of salt which if excessive is a danger for your health because high sodium values can cause increased blood pressure, which is the main cause of strokes and seizures;
- Enhance food storage;
- Increase the organoleptic value of food;
- Increase the health and wellbeing of the body regulating blood cholesterol and sugar levels and boosting the immune system because they are vehicles of molecules such as secondary metabolites, anti-oxidant, vitamins and minerals.
The most popular 5 Italian spices in the kitchen
Among Italian spices, it is impossible not to mention saffron, which is obtained from the pistils of the Crocus sativus and that can be found on the market as powder or filaments. Among the 5 italian spices is the most expensive, because to obtain 1 gram hundreds of flowers are required. It is used in several Italian recipes such as risotto alla milanese.
The benefits of saffron are a lot, in fact it is used to treat depression, helps digestion and reduces cholesterol. It also has a protective action on the liver and the respiratory system, in addition to its anti-aging properties thanks to the many antioxidants it contains.
In Italy there are a lot of prestigious varieties:
- Zafferano of Montegiorgio, in the Marche region
- Zafferano of Maremma, in Tuscany
- Zafferano of Cascia, in Umbria
- Zafferano of Monti Lessini, in the Veneto region
Some varieties have the DOP seal which stands for Denominazione di Origine Protetta (DOP) like zafferano aquilano in Abruzzo, zafferano of San Gimignano in Tuscany and zafferano of Sardinia.
Red chilli pepper
Chilli pepper is a condiment used in many typical recipes of Italian cuisine such as spaghetti garlic, oil and chilli pepper, aglio, pennette all’arrabbiata, spicy chilli pepper sauce and pizza alla diavola. Italy’s most typical variety is the Capsicum annuum which has a medium spiciness with a slim and elongated shape.
The chilli pepper plants cultivated in Italy do not need great spaces of soil, for this reason many Italians manage to grow them on their own balcony. To obtain the spice it is essential to dry the ripe chilli peppers.
From a nutritional standpoint, chilli pepper is recognized as a highly healthy food with a lot of benefits thanks to capsaicin, an alkaloid able to improve the digestive process, and thanks to a high quantity of vitamin C, essential to boost the immune system and for the antioxidant action. Also, thanks to the antiseptic properties, especially when it comes to simple cooking, chilli pepper was used as a preservative to preserve meat.
Garlic and onion
These Italian spices have a potent medicinal role thanks to them containing organosulfur compounds. Garlic has a lot of benefits: protection against tumors, cardiovascular protection and reduction of cholesterol levels. Meanwhile onion comes with a lot of enzymes that help digestion and stimulate metabolism, oligoelementos, vitamin A, vitamins B, C, E; flavonoids with diuretic and anti-oxidant action such as quercitin; glucose with anti-diabetic action and insulin that regulates bowel activity.
Some varieties of garlic and onions in Italy are:
- Red garlic of Nubia, in Sicily
- Pink garlic of Nicastro and of Papaglionti, in Calabria
- Garlic of Ufita, in Campania
- White garlic Polesano, in Veneto
- Garlic of Resia, in Friuli-Venezia Giulia
- Garlic of Caraglio, in Piemonte
- White garlic of Piacenza, in Emilia-Romagna
- Garlic of Voghiera, in Emilia-Romagna
- Coppery onion of Montoro, in Campania
- Onion of Vatolla, in Campania
- Cipollotto Nocerino, in Campania
- Red onion of Tropea, in Calabria
- Red onion of Acquaviva, in Apulia
- White onion of Margherita, in Apulia
- Onion of Cannara, in Umbria
- Red onion of Genoa , in Liguria
- Onion of Certaldo, in Tuscany
It is a perennial herbaceous plant that grows spontaneously in many Italian regions and in the countries overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. It helps prevent respiratory diseases and helps digestion. Generally it is used in dry form to season meat and fish, side dishes, pizza, pasta, focaccia, salads and mushrooms.
Oregano is also listed among Traditional Food Products registered at national level, and there is:
- Wild oregano of Calabria
- Oregano of Matese, in Campania
- Oregano of Molise
- Oregano of Sicily
After having discovered the several properties of these 5 Italian spices, what are you waiting for? Use them in your recipes!