Cooking By Feel: Italian Ingredients and Flavors

As we work to become better at cooking without recipes, we're taking a tour of world cuisines, looking at flavors and ingredients in each that play well together. Yesterday it was flavors in Asian and Far Eastern cooking, and today it's Italian. Mangia! as our Italian friends say. Eat! And eat they do, since Italian cooking has some of the best simple yet sublime food in the world...

It's also remarkably easy to assemble meals with basic Italian ingredient and flavors. Once you learn what goes together, it's not hard at all to substitute this for that and create dishes on the fly.

Flavors and Ingredients
Garlic!
• Prosciutto, bresaola and other aged hams like speck
• Parmesan cheese
• Provolone cheese
• Mozzarella cheese
• Pinenuts
• Fresh basil
• Tomatoes - fresh, canned, and sun-dried
• Artichokes
• Pesto made with arugula or basil
• Olives
Olive oil

Meal Basics
Pasta, of course! Test your knowledge of pasta shapes here.
• Rice for risotto
• Bread for pizza and breadsticks

Recipes and tips for Italian cooking
Recipe: Strozzapretti with Pecorino, Prosciutto and Something Green
Good Product: RoyalVKB Garlic Crusher
The Celluloid Pantry: Garlic Prep and Goodfellas (1990)
Recipe: Roasted Garlic
How to Peel Garlic Quickly and Easily
Recipe: Prosciutto Roasted Figs
Recipe: Ridiculously Quick Pasta al Pomodoro
Recipe: Farfalle with Cauliflower and Toasted Breadcrumb
Trader Joe's Pantry: Anelletti Pasta
Dry Pasta vs. Fresh Pasta: What's the Difference?
Recipe: Ricotta Pasta with Fava Beans and Bacon
Spring Eating: Grilled Pizza with Herbed Mascarpone, Smoked Salmon and Asparagus
D.I.Y. Recipe: Pizza Sauce
New Favorite: Lemon Olive Oil Cake

OK - what did we miss? (Something crucial, I'm sure.) What else goes with Italian cooking, and how do you like to to mix and match the ingredients above?

(Image: Faith Hopler)