CACIOCAVALLO – From southern Italy, caciocavallo (meaning “cheese on horseback”) comes from cow’s milk and has a mild, slightly salty flavor and firm, smooth texture when young (about 2 months). As it ages, the flavor becomes more pungent and the texture more granular, making it ideal for grating.
CALAMARI – Squid or cuttlefish. Very popular in Italy either deep fried or lightly boiled and served in a seafood salad. The black ink from this seafood is used to flavor and color both pasta and risotto.
CANERDERLI – A specialty of Trentino-Adige, these bread dumplings are the Italian version of Austrian and German knödel. Often served in rich meat broths, they are made with stale white or rye bread moistened in milk and bound with eggs, and frequently flavored with parsley, speck (a local cured ham), nutmeg, and caraway seeds. Liver is sometimes add to make canederli al fegato.
CANNELLA – Cinnamon. It is most often used for baking desserts and cookies.
CANNELLINI BEANS – A white bean popular across Italy but particularly in Tuscany. Mild in flavor and shaped like a kidney bean, it is rarely eaten fresh, only dried.
CANNELLONI – Literally translated as “big tubes”, this pasta is rolled around a savory filling, topped with a sauce and baked.
CANTUCCI – Hard, almond flavored biscuits or cookies commonly called biscotti outside of Italy. Originating from Tuscany, they are designed to be dipped into coffee or a sweet wine called vin santo.
CAPPELLACCI – Named for their appearance as “small hats”, this pasta originates from Emilia Romagna.
CAPELLI D’ANGELO – Angel hair pasta. Best served with a light sauce.
CAPPERI – Capers are intensely flavored flower buds of a wild Mediterranean shrub. Either preserved in vinegar or salt they add a piquant, peppery flavor to Italian dishes.
CAPRINO – Goat cheese. This cheese has a very pungent flavor which becomes much stronger as it ages. Fresh it is used in salads or as an appetizer
CAPRA – Goat. Either roasted, grilled, or, if tough, stewed.
CARDI – Cardoons. This vegetable which resembles celery is actually part of the artichoke family. They are eaten raw in salads, and fried, braised or baked as a side dish.
CARCIOFI – Italian artichokes. Originating in Sicily where they grow wild, they are now cultivated across Italy. A specialty of Roman cooking, they are often braised or boiled before eating. Small, tender, young artichokes can be thinly sliced, dressed as a salad, and eaten raw.
CARNE – General term referring to all meat.
CAROTA – Carrot. Combined with onions and celery it is part of the “holy trinity” in soffritto.
CASTAGNE – Chestnuts. An important ingredient in Tuscan, Ligurian and Sardinian cuisine, both fresh, and dried and milled into flour. Chestnuts are poached in wine, roasted, or fried in butter as a garnish. In Piedmonte, they candy chestnuts to make marrons glace.
CAVOLO – Cabbage. An important ingredient in many hearty winter soups, there are a number of varieties found in Italy. Cavolo Nero is a very dark leafy cabbage found in Tuscany.
CAVATELLI – This pasta looks like a small ridged square that has curled up.
CAVOLFIORE – Cauliflower. Cooked in many ways including in tomato sauce. Also is used in a traditional pasta sauce.
CECI – Also known as garbanzo beans, or chickpeas. Shaped like small hazelnuts, they have a nutty flavor.
CHITARRINE – A traditional pasta of Abruzzo made with a board with wires running across it on which the dough is rolled creating square shaped spaghetti like strands.
CIOCCOLATA – Chocolate.
CICORIA DI CAMPO – Dandelions. This peppery wild leaf can now be found in a cultivated version which tends to have a little milder flavor. Young leaves are served in salads, while older, more bitter leaves should be braised.
CIMA DI RAPE – Broccole Rabe. A green bitter vegetable unless harvested young. Looks like broccoli but has skinnier stalks. The leaves, stems and florets are eaten. Really good sauteed with garlic and olive oil and served over pasta. Also known as Italian broccoli, rabe, rapini.
CINGHIALE – Wild boar. These are the ancestors of domestic pigs which used to roam wild in the forests of Tuscany and Sradinia. The meat is used in the same manner as pork.
CIPOLLE – Onion. This vegetable plays an important part in Italian cuisine, and a number of varieties grow in Italy. The red variety are the most common variety used for general cooking.
CONFETTURA – Jam. Also called marmellata, which originally meant citrus fruit marmalade.
CONIGLIO – Rabbit. Farmed and wild rabbits are often used in place of veal or chicken in Italian cuisine. It is often slow braised with herbs, wine and vegetables.
CONCHIGLE – A shell shaped dry pasta that cradles a chunky sauce well.
CONCENTRATO O PUREA DI POMODORO – Tomato Paste or Tomato Concentrate. A thick deep red paste bought in tubes or cans used in small quantities to thicken sauces or give colour and to enhance flavour.
CONFECTIONER’S SUGAR – Powdered Sugar.
COPPA – A salted and dried sausage made from the neck or shoulder of pork often used in sandwiches or as an antipasto. It is deep red in color and can be found in both mild and spicy versions.
COSTOLETTA – Cutlet or chop of pork, lamb or veal, also called cotoletta, the popular term for breaded veal cutlet. Cotoletta Milanese is a thinly breaded veal chop fried golden brown and served with lemon wedges.
COTECHINO – This is a large, fresh sausage lightly spiced and salted. It is a specialty of Emilia Romagna, and is often served on a bed of stewed lentils.
COUSCOUS – The separated grain of the wheat plant. When dried and milled, it becomes semolina flour, which is what pasta is made out of. However, as a grain, it makes a terrific rice substitute that has the advantage of being more flavorful (nutty with an interesting texture as long as it is not over cooked) as well as about five times quicker to make than rice.
COZZE – Mussels. These are used in many pasta and fish dishes, as well as served on their own after steaming them in a flavorful broth.
CREMA – Pastry cream or custard.
CRESCENZA – A rich, creamy, fresh cheese, also known as Crescenza Stracchino , that’s widely made in Italy’s regions of Lombardy, Piedmont and Veneto. Its texture and flavor are similiar to that of a mild cream cheese, and it becomes very soft and spreadable at room temperature.
CRESPELLE – Crepes. These thin pancake like sheets are filled with a savory filling for a first course, or a sweet filling for dessert.
CROSTATA – An open faced tart, either sweet or savory.