Greek & Italian Recipes
Thom's Recipe File
Greek food is a wonderful mix of oriental and
European dishes, cooked using different methods, from frying
to broiling to boiling. Food in Greece is both easy to make, as the
following recipes show, and delightful.
Much of Greek food is seasonal and alot of it is prepared during different
times of the year, mainly around dates of religious events, such as Easter,
Christmas or New Year.
Greek food, uses much tomato paste in a liquid form. If you get a can of
peeled tomatoes and mix them well, it will produce an appropriate paste.
In recent years, medical evidence has shown that eating a high quantity of
tomatoes, results in lower cancer rates. Perhaps this is the reason why
Greece as a country has low cancer rates. On the other hand, the incident
rate of heart and stroke diseases increases every year.
Italian cuisine is extremely varied: the
country of Italy was only officially unified in 1861, and its cuisines
reflect the cultural variety of its regions and its diverse history (with
culinary influences from Greek,
Gallic, Germanic, Goth, Norman, Lombard, Frank, Turkish, Hebrew, Slavic,
Arab and Chinese civilizations). Italian cuisine is imitated all over the
To a certain extent, there is really no such thing as Italian cuisine in the
way that one usually understands national cuisines. Each area has its own
proud specialties, primarily at regional level, but also even at provincial
level. Italian cuisine is not only highly regionalized, it is very seasonal.
The high priority placed on the use of fresh, seasonal produce distinguishes
the cuisine of Italy from the imitations available in most other countries.
Roman cuisine, for example, uses a lot of pecorino (sheep milk cheese) and
offal (frattaglie, frattaje in dialect), while Tuscan cooking features white
beans, meat, and unsalted bread. Pizza also varies across the country, the
crusts of pizzas in Rome are thin as crackers, while Neapolitan pizza and
Sicilian pizza is thicker. The influence of Northern Italian cuisine can be
seen in French and German cuisines. Piedmont and Lombardy each grow their
own different kinds of rice, which are used to make risotto. The North of
Italy is the home of polenta. Emilia-Romagna is known for lasagna and
tortellini (stuffed pasta), mortadella, prosciutto, and Parmigianino. Naples
(Napoli) is the home of pizza, mozzarella cheese and pastries (babà,
sfogliatelle). Calabria's cuisine uses a lot of hot pepper for its
distinctive salami (that are common, in several varieties, throughout the
country) and uses capsicum. Sicily is the home of gelato (ice cream) and
granita but its cuisine also has many influences from Arab cuisine (lemon,
pistachio) and also includes fish (tuna, swordfish). Sardinia is famous for
lamb and pecorino.
Northern versus Southern Italian cooking
Traditional Italian cuisine is very regional and does not follow strict
North-South patterns. To most, northern and southern Italian cuisines are
differentiated primarily by the north using more butter and creams and the
south more tomato and olive oil. In general terms, however, there is a
marked difference between regional use of cooking fat and traditional style
of pasta. Inland northern and north-eastern regions tend to flavor more
butter, cream, polenta, mascarpone, grana padano, and parmigiano cheeses,
risotto, lasagna and fresh egg pasta. Coastal northern and central regions
are somewhat of a bridge between north and south and often use tortellini,
ravioli and are known for prosciutto. The southern regions are traditionally
known for mozzarella, caciocavallo, and pecorino cheeses, olive oil, and
dried pasta. Southern Italian cuisine also makes far greater use of the
Most Americans have some favorite
dishes from the Greek and Italian menu even if they are not Italian
or Greek like my family. My family and I regularly choose from the
list of recipes in Thom's Recipe File to select a dish to prepare.
We have many favorite dishes, especially those that include pasta,
that come from the Mediterranean region. Here are some of our
favorite recipes from this region. Our very most favorite of all is
with White Clam Sauce". If you want spaghetti with meat sauce
that is quick and very tasty then you will want "Thom's
Quick Spaghetti with
| A traditional Italian menu consists of:
1. antipasto -
hot or cold appetizer.
2. primo ("first course"), usually consists of a hot dish
like pasta, risotto, gnocchi, polenta or soup. There are usually
abundant vegetarian options.
3. Secondo ("second course"), the main dish, usually fish or
meat (pasta is never the main course of a meal). Traditionally
veal is the most commonly used meat, at least in the North,
though beef has become more popular since World War II and wild
game is very popular, particularly in Tuscany.
4. contorno ("side dish") may consist of a salad or
vegetables. A traditional menu features salad after the main
5. dolce ("dessert")
6. caffè ("coffee") (espresso)
7. digestivo which is liquors/liqueurs (grappa, amaro,
limoncello) sometimes referred to as ammazzacaffè ("Coffee
One notable and often surprising aspect of an Italian meal,
especially if eaten in an Italian home, is that the primo, or
first course, is usually the more filling dish, providing most
of the meal's carbohydrates, and will consist of either risotto
or pasta (both being excellent sources).