10 Ways to Expand Your Italian Pantry

Photo credit: Rachael Ray Show

We've been celebrating the launch of Rachael's new cookbook, Everyone Is Italian on Sunday, and sharing must-have Italian ingredients. Read on for eight items you should consider adding to your pantry.

No. 1: Kale

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Rach loves to cook with Kale. She says of her preferred Tuscan variety, “Tuscan Kale is also called Lacionato, or black kale, or flat kale. Not that there’s anything wrong with curly kale, I just prefer stemming and working with the flat stuff, it stacks easier for shredding.”

No. 2: Pepperoncini

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Rach also loves Italian Pepperoncini, which are small hot red peppers. She explains that the Greek variety is light green.

No. 3: Akasha Honey

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Rach loves Akasha honey for adding sweetness without a strong “honey” flavor. “The lighter the color of honey, the less flavor profile it has, so it’s just adding a natural sugar without adding other layers of flavor,” she explains.

No. 4: Porcini Mushrooms

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Fresh porcini are great, but Rachael also loves dried, because “when you simmer [them], you end up with a porcini flavored stock.”

No. 5: Faro

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Of this pasta, Rachael shares, “Faro pasta is a nice way to bump up proteins and fiber in your pasta dinners, but I think it is best when paired with dark leafy greens, and/or nuts.”

No. 6: Short & Long-Cut Pasta

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If you ever wonder what type of pasta pairs best with a given sauce, Rachael explains how to choose: “Short-cut pastas are best for sturdy sauces, long cut pastas are best for thinner sauces.”

No. 7: Chickpeas

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“Chickpeas are a great cheap source of protein. They are always in my pantry in both dried form and cans,” Rachael shares. She adds, however, “If you have the time, cook them from dried. They have a nuttier texture and more of a pop when you bite into them."

No. 8: Canned Tomatoes

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When it comes to the Italian staple, canned tomatoes, Rachael has a warning, “Buyer, beware that many brands use San Marzano in the naming of the brand, [but] they are not actually Italian tomatoes. Just make sure you’re getting what you paid for."

No. 9: Nutmeg

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As for nutmeg, Rachael recommends, “I’ll always pair [nutmeg] with milk or cream sauces like Bechamel and any dark leafy green, from escarole to kale.”

No. 10: Capers

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Rach shares of these salty little nuggets, “If you buy them in salt, they must be soaked and the water changed a few times.”

Click here to purchase Rachael's new book. What is your favorite Italian ingredient? Tell us below, and watch a demonstration of a great recipe featuring chickpeas:

High-Protein Spaghetti with Chickpeas and Roasted Cauliflower

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