Photo by Clinton Hussey

At its best, Italian cooking is highlighted by simple, fresh ingredients. There’s a reason cacio e pepe, or margherita pizza are so beloved€”every single ingredient sings because nothing distracts from them.

Planning your own Italian feast? Be sure to have these quality ingredients on hand.

1. Carnaroli rice by Acquerello

This risotto rice from the North is aged one year and then put into vacuum-packed tins or bags for freshness.

2. Italian (or Spanish) tinned tuna

Often packaged in beautifully retro tins€”it's the taste and texture that can’t be replicated by domestic brands.

3. Grissini

These breadsticks can be made quite easily, but there are plenty of great store-bought brands that are imported from Italy. Serve on their own with an aperitif, or wrapped with salumi for a great party snack.

4. Tipo ’00’ flour

The secret ingredient for making authentic Napoli pizza and fresh pastas.

5. Domenica Fiore Olio Novello

This organic olive oil from Tuscany is pressed from the first olives of the season and packaged in stainless steel bottles€”brought to you by Vancouver mining mogul Frank Giustra.

6. Salumi

If it’s bought from your Italian butcher it needs nothing€”slice and serve.

7. Carpano Antica Formula red vermouth

Made from a recipe dating back to 1786, this slightly sweet vermouth (served cellar cool) makes for a perfect aperitif€”guaranteed to get those taste buds ready for a party.

8. Imported dry pasta

Look for brands like Maccheroni Calabresi€”not that expensive, and far superior to those made in North America.

9. Auricchio provolone

This is far removed from the bland domestic variety Americans put on sandwiches. Its unexpected sharp bite makes it the star of any antipasti platter.

10. San Marzano tomatoes

These tomatoes are perfectly balanced in terms of sweetness and acidity. They’re pricey but they don't need much else to make them into a sauce€”Mother Nature (and a few farmers in Italy) have already done the heavy lifting. Not all San Marzano tomatoes are created equal€”shop around and find a brand that suits your taste. Look for the D.O.P. (Denominazione di Origine Protetta) designation to ensure it's really from the area.

Originally published April 2015