PAGLIA E FIENO – Translates as “Straw and Hay.” This is a mix of green spinach pasta and yellow egg tagliatelle or tagliolini, commonly sauced with cream, ham and peas. A Tuscan specialty.
PAGNOTTA – A large round loaf of bread.
PALLIARD – Thinly pounded slices of meat, often veal, chicken or beef.
PALOMBO – Dogfish. Commonly stewed or used in soups.
PANE AL LATTE – A light, spongy, cake-like type of bread.
PAN BIGIO – “Gray bread.” Coarse gray-colored bread made of unrefined flour.
PANCETTA - Unsmoked bacon made from pork belly and then cured in salt and spices giving it a mild flavor. It can be eaten raw as an antipasto, but is usually cut into strips and fried to flavor many Italian dishes.
PAN CON UVA – Raisin bread.
PAN DI RAMERINO – Bread flavored with rosemary, a Tuscan specialty.
PAN DI SPAGNA – Sponge cake. Used in many Italian desserts such as Cassata, and Zuppa Inglese.
PANE GRATTUGIATO – Bread Crumbs.
PANETTONE – A tall, fat cylindrical egg-rich cake studded with candied fruit and served traditionally at Christmas and Easter. A specialty of Lombardy.
PANFORTE – A dense, cake filled with dried fruits, nuts and spices that is a specialty of Tuscany at Christmas.
PANINO – A bread roll, generally made for sandwiches.
PANNA – Heavy Cream. Used in sauces and deserts. The most famous sauce using cream is Fettuccine Alfredo.
PAPPARADELLE – A favorite in Tuscany, this pasta consists of long ribbons of fresh pasta about 1 inch wide.
PARMIGIANO REGGIANO – Parmesan. One of the best known Italian cheeses which is made in a strctly regulated fashion around the Parma area. Parmesan is a dry cheese, and has a mild flavor. It can be eaten on it’s own, or grated and used in many dishes in an Italian kitchen, particulary to top a finished pasta dish.
PASSATA – Purée of Tomato. Also used to make sauces. If you pass chopped or whole tomatoes through a food mill or blend them you will get passata.
PASSATELLI – A traditional first course in the neighboring regions of Romagna and the Marche, passatelli were named because they are passed through a special iron that looks like a slotted spoon mounted on two horizontal handles. In Romagna, the dough is made with fresh bread crumbs, eggs, Parmigiano, and a grating of nutmeg and lemon zest; beef marrow can be used to make passatelli particularly rich. In the Marche, passatelli include ground beef, and the lemon is omitted.
PASTA FROLLA – Short pastry used in baking both sweet and savory dishes.
PASTA GRATTUGIATA – Pasta dough that has been dried and then grated into very small grains, and cooked as couscous or served in broth.
PASTA SFOGLIA – Puff Pastry. Also called millefoglie.
PASTA VERDE – Green Pasta, most commonly made with chopped or pureed spinach.
PASTELLA – A basic batter used for deep frying, consisting of flour and water, and sometimes eggs.
PASTINA – Any tiny dried pasta most commonly used in soups, as for Pastina in Brodo.
PATATE – Potato. Patate fritte are french fries, and patatine potato chips.
PECORINO – All Italian cheeses made from sheep’s milk are called pecorino although they may vary greatly in texture and flavor.
PELATI – Peeled Canned Tomatoes. You can either peel fresh tomatoes, remove the core and seeds or buy bottled or canned varieties, either whole or chopped. Buy a good imported brand, as the good brands are less acidic and give a good proportion of tomatoes to liquid. San Marzano tomatoes are an exceptionally flavorful tomato either canned or fresh.
PENNE – Shaped like a quilll from where it’s name originates, this dried pasta shape is very common.
PEPATO – Sicilian pecorino cheese, with black peppercorns set in the middle of the cheese. Has a very sharp flavor.
PEPE NERO – Black Pepper. Pepe bianco, white pepper, and pepe rosso, red pepper are also commonly used.
PEPERONI – Sweet Peppers. These peppers, also know as capsicums, come in a variety of colors. They have a sweet taste and crunchy texture, and are used in many regional recipes across Italy, often being roasted first.
PEPERONCINI – Red chilies. These dried, hot peppers are added to many southern Italian specialties, including pasta sauces and pizza.
PERA – Pear. Eaten fresh in place of dessert but also made into preserves, sorbetti and pastries.
PESCA – Peach. Eaten fresh in place of dessert but also made into preserves, sorbetti and pastries.
PERCIATELLI – Dried, thick strands of spaghetti with a hollow center.
PERSICO – Fresh Water Perch. Most commonly fried.
PESCE SPADA – Swordfish. Most often sold in steaks, they can be found throughout Italy. Often grilled or roasted, they are also sliced thinly and rolled around a flavorful filling before grilling.
PESCIOLINI – Tiny fish that are coated in a light batter and deep fried.
PESTO – A sauce made from blending fresh basil with garlic, parmesan cheese and toasted pine nuts. Traditionally, it is made by hand with a mortar and pestle. This sauce is used on pasta, as well as to flavor other dishes such as soups as a garnish.
PIADINE – Thin rounds of bread that are grilled on a special pan called a testo and served with cold meats and cheeses such as prosciutto, salami and provolone.
PICCIONE – Cultivated Pigeons. Also known as torresani. These are farm-grown birds, preferably less than seven months old. Piccione selvatico, is a wild pigeon, also called colombaccio or palombaccio.
PICI – Twisted Tuscan noodles made by hand with a grooved rolling pin like tool.
PINOLI – Pine Nuts. These are actually the seeds from the stone pine trees that grow along the Adriatic sea. They are usually toasted before using, and are used in many Italian dishes both sweet and savory.
PISELLI – Peas. Usually boiled and served with onions and garlic as a side dish, or added to soups and stews. Pisellini are small or baby peas.
PISTACCHIO – Pistachio. A favorite nut for snacking, pastrymaking, gelato and as a flavoring.
PIZZA – A flat yeasted bread topped with a variety of toppings, commonly including tomato sauce, cheese, meats, and vegetables.
PIZZA DOLCE – Sweet Pizza. A dessert form of pizza which is topped with a variety of nuts, candied fruit, citrus and sweet flavorings.
PIZZA RUSTICA – A savory tart made with ricotta, mozzarella, prosciutto, mortadella and seasonings that originated in Abbruzzi.
PIZZOCCHERI – Fresh buckwheat noodles that are usually 1/2 inch wide and 4 to 5 inches long. The dish is completed with chopped potatoes, cabbage, cheese, butter and garlic.
POLENTA – A staple in northern Italy for centuries, polenta is a type of cornmeal made from ground maize. Generally, in Italy two common types are used, coarse and fine. Polenta can be served soft as a porridge type of dish topped with sauce and meat, or allowed to cool and harden and then served fried or grilled.
POLIPI – Octopus. Much larger than squid, they are generally coked long and slow to tenderise them after being pounded with a mallet before cooking. Great in salads with other seafood, or on it’s own.
POLLO – Chicken. Very popular in many dishes such as Pollo Cacciatore, A gallo is a cock or rooster, a gallina a hen. The free-range variety is pollo ruspante, while pollastro or galletto is a young chicken.
POLPETTA – Meatball. Made from a variety of ground meat, fish or vegetables, that is most commonly fried, boiled, or cooked in sauce.
POLPETONE – Meatloaf. Commonly made with a combination of ground meats, often with some vegetables such as mushrooms and onions, and cheese added.
POMMAROLA – A simple tomato sauce.
POMODORI – Tomatoes. Most definately one of the most important ingredients in Italian cuisine, a number of varieties of tomatoes are grown across Italy. The best tomato for cooking is always said to be the San Marzano tomato which can be found now canned and imported from Italy.
POMPELMO – Grapefruit. Eaten fresh or made into marmalade.
PORCHETTA – Whole suckling pig, boned, stuffed with herbs and roasted over an open fire or in a wood-burning oven. In North America, porchetta can also refer to a boneless, rolled roast of pork studded with garlic and herbs.
PORCINI – Porcini mushrooms are definitely the most famous of Italian mushrooms and many varieties can be found across Italy. Young, fresh porcini can be sliced and eaten raw, while larger caps are best grilled or sauteed. Dried porcini are also popular, and added an earthy depth of flavor to many dishes.
PORRO Leak. Most commonly used in cooking, particulary soups and stews.
POWDERED SUGAR – Icing sugar or confectioner’s sugar.
PREZZEMOLO – Parsley. The Italian version is the flat leafed variety which has a fresh, robust flavor. It is used throughout Italian cooking to flavor an unlimited number of savory dishes.
PROSCIUTTO – Italy is famous for it’s prosciutto crudo, or cured ham, and the most famous ones come from the area around Parma. San Daniele hams, produced in the Friuli region are also a very popular prosciutto. Commonly eaten fresh as an antipasto, it can also sometimes be cooked to flavor other dishes.
PROVOLONE – This is a southern Italian cheese that is straw white in color, with a smooth texture. Milder, fresh provolone can be eaten on it’s own, although once aged it is generally used in cooking and for Cheese Platters
PRUGNA – Plum. This fruit is commonly eaten fresh, stewed, or made into preserves and dessert pastries. Prugna secca refers to dried prunes.
PUNTARELLE – Wild chicory spears, with a sharp, bitter flavor that are eaten raw and dressed with olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, garlic and anchovies.