A typical Italian kitchen is full of wonderful herbs

...spices, cheeses, meats and so much more. The Italian kitchen is by far based on fresh, in season ingredients. The fresher the better.

Any time you are cooking Italian food, make sure that you are using the best and freshest ingredients possible and you will be sure to create something amazing!

First and foremost an Italian cook's kitchen is stocked with fresh produce: tomatoes, escarole, garlic, onions, celery, carrots...

they all taste best when they still have that just-picked flavor.

Keep your kitchen stocked with fresh produce and you will never go wrong.

Your Italian kitchen must have fresh herbs and spices

Penne pasta with tomatoes and fresh basil

You must have a good selection of fresh herbs and spices to be able to cook authentic Italian food.

It might be difficult to keep these on hand year round, depending on where you live, because buying these things can get expensive.

However, most places will support herb gardens in the summer time, and if you're really motivated you can keep some pots indoors for year-round delicious flavors.

The most important herbs that I can think of are by far: oregano, basil and parsley.

I feel like everything that has ever come out of my family's kitchen has at least one, sometimes all three incorporated! Of course, the dry variety works in some instances too, so don't be afraid to use it!

Another important Italian kitchen staple is olive oil!

Not only has it been proven as better for you than conventional vegetable oil or butter... it makes everything TASTE even more delicious than without it.

Extra virgin is best, but can become pricey... so really, just go with what works best for your budget.

Sometimes it's worth it to go to a bulk-food store and pick up a giant cannister or jug, you get more for what you pay for. You are gonna need it!

Next, do NOT underestimate the power of cheese to any Italian.

Cheese made from every kind of milk, from cows, to goats to sheep. Fresh ricotta, provolone, pecorino romano, parmiggaino, mozzarella... all of these cheeses play a huge role in cooking, garnishing, and even as main courses for some Italian meals.

Then of course there is the meat, poultry and seafood. The protein family! You can't have a good Italian kitchen without it.

Again, here is where freshness reigns supreme. There are some strange and unusual meat products that Italians gravitate to, but mostly just think about the foods that most Americans enjoy - beef, chicken, fish.. and of course pork - because what is an Italian sandwich without some salami or capicolla?

Let's not forget the importance of fruit in the Italian diet.

It is often considered a dessert, and it is treated with the same fervor and dignity that meat is given. It is important to stock your refrigerator with local, fresh fruits around the year.

From juicy peaches in the summer, to succulent winter oranges, the Italians relish fruit as a delicacy and a necessity to any Meditteranean diet. You should, too! After all it's very good for you.

These are just some of the staples of an Italian kitchen, but there's much more where that came from! Just read on to the recipes on this site and you will see what a real Italian considers a good meal!

And enjoy cooking Italian food in your very own cucina!

Buon appetito!