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A Glossary of Italian Products to Help American Cooks : Variety of Food and Wines Defined in a Special List That Includes Pasta and Cheeses

March 21, 1985|ROSE DOSTI | Times Staff Writer

Here is a glossary of Italian products found in restaurants and grocery stores where Italian products and wines are sold.


Arborio --short-grain rice farmed in the Po Valley in Northern Italy. It has a rich, creamy texture and full flavor when cooked. This imported rice comes in cloth sacks.

Gnocchi-- small dumplings, sometimes available in frozen form. They are made of corn flour or potatoes and are served with tomato or other sauces.

Agnelotti-- a small round pasta that is cooked, then stuffed with meat or vegetables and served with tomato or meat sauce and cheese.

Bucatini-- long macaroni tubes that are served baked or with sauces.

Cappelletti-- a rather large tortellini that is shaped like a little hat and is usually filled with cheese and minced poultry or sausage. It is excellent served dry with tomato or butter sauce or added to soup.

Capelli d'angelo --Literally translated, capelli d'angelo means "angel's hair." This vermicelli noodle is one of the finest strand pastas, used chiefly with sauces, but also in soups.

Conchiglie-- large or small seashell-shaped pasta is served with sauces.

Farfalle-- the Italian name for "butterfly." This bow-shaped pasta is used chiefly with sauces or occasionally added to soups.

Fettuccine-- long, thin fresh or dry strips of macaroni that are popularly eaten with a butter and cheese sauce, or meat and seafood sauces.

Fusilli-- corkskrew-shaped pasta that is made for sauces.

Linguine-- popular flat, long-stranded pasta that is generally used fresh with cream or clam sauces.

Penne-- thin, diagonally cut tube macaroni that is served with sauces.

Ravioli-- pillow-shaped squares of pasta that are filled with meat, fish, poultry, vegetables or cheese and served with sauces or added to soups.

Rigatoni-- short, fat, ribbed tube macaroni that is served with rich sauces.

Tagliatelle-- long strips of macaroni which are a specialty of Bologna but are found anywhere . They are best served with sauces or simply laced with butter and grated Parmesan cheese.

Tortellini-- small or large cap-shaped pasta that are stuffed with meat, poultry or cheese. They are served with any sauce but are especially good with cream, butter and cheese.


Asiago-- a hard cheese made of cow's milk that is produced in the Veneto region. It is best eaten as an appetizer but can be used for grating.

Bocconcini-- Literally, "little morsels," the tiny balls of fresh mozzarella are usually made of buffalo milk in Italy, but are available at some specialty Italian markets here, made with cow's milk. They are wonderful dressed with olive oil and herbs to serve as appetizers. They can also be breaded and fried, or sliced or diced to add to salads.

Caciocavallo-- This hard, mild cheese is usually available at most cheese stores. It can be eaten at the table. The grating-type caciocavallo is aged and strong in flavor.

Fontina-- a full-cream, medium-hard cheese that is produced in the Piedmont region for table use. It makes a fine after-dinner cheese with fruit or a light accompaniment to soup, pasta or salad.

Grana Padano-- a hard grating cheese gaining in popularity. It is made of partially skimmed cow's milk and is produced in many regions, including Piedmont, Lombary and Venice and Emilia. The cheese is also eaten as an appetizer or after a meal, before or with the fruit.

Mozzarella de Bufala-- Imported from Italy, this fresh, pure-white mozzarella packed in water or brine is made with buffalo milk from buffalo bred in the Campania region near Naples. The fresh mozzarella is about two to three inches in diameter and is used as you would the tiny bocconcini. Imported fresh mozzarella is air-freighted and vacuum-packed in brine and will remain fresh in the refrigerator up to 10 days if properly stored. Fresh mozzarella is sometimes found in smoked form. Domestic fresh mozzarella made with cow's milk is also available at specialty Italian markets here.

Parmigiano Reggiano-- High-quality cow's milk is used for producing this excellent cooking and table hard cheese. Produced in the Emilia region in North Central Italy, the cheese can be eaten alone with fruit or grated to add to pastas or salads.

Pecorino--Pecorino Romano, the full-cream yew's milk cheese produced in Lazio, near Rome, is ripened for eight months before use as a table or grating cheese. The cheese is also produced in Sardinia (Pecorino Sardo) and Sicily (Pecorino Siciliana).

Provolone-- This medium-hard full-cream cow's milk cheese produced throughout Italy has a mild, delicate flavor, which becomes stronger as it ages. It is an excellent slicing cheese for sandwiches or for eating with fruit.

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