Italian cuisine has a tradition of dishes based on wheat products (such as bread and pasta), vegetables, cheese, fish, and meat, usually prepared in such a manner as to preserve their ingredients' natural qualities, appearance, and taste.
This kind of cuisine puts a stress on lightness and healthy nutrition with natural unprocessed foods, and tends to vary greatly not only with the seasons but also between the various regions of the country: mountainous regions have dishes rich in proteins, and prefer meat, butter, and cheese, while seaside regions have dishes rich in vegetables and fish.
In this way, the cuisine is born of the people, the territory and the seasons, and is not pulled out of nowhere for no rhyme or reason.
Owing to its peasant roots, classic Italian cooking is inherently simple, and the cooking techniques used therein are those that were accessible to people who worked long hours and had limited resources. This explains the absence of dishes that include elements such as fine pastry or delicate sauces—things which require long, close attention and precise temperatures.
The most common techniques in Italian cooking are:
One may wonder “what about baked goods?” As Marcella Hazan notes in The Classic Italian Cookbook, “Reliable ovens are only a recent addition to the Italian kitchen....” As such, breads and cakes were rarely made in the home but, rather, were purchased from the local bakery. Dishes which are oven-baked, like pizza or lasagna, usually require no more than 15-20 minutes baking time to finish. These were traditionally prepared at home, then taken to the local bakery for the final baking.
Following is a list of some Italian dishes, divided into general categories.