There are hundreds of different cuisines in the world and few of them have been acclaimed worldwide. Italian, Indian, French, Thai, and Chinese are known and loved worldwide. However, Moroccan, Hungarian, Lebanese, and Vietnamese dishes are also served in restaurants. Today we will be talking about Italian cuisine and its contorni. Are you aware of the contorni meaning? What does contorni mean on an Italian menu? What is usually served in a 7 course Italian meal? Let’s find it out.
1. How to Define Contorni?
The term has its origin in Italy. It can be defined as a side dish made from vegetables or served with vegetables. In some places, it is also written to be a mix of vegetables. This side dish can be served with different meals, and mostly it is enjoyed with the 7-course meal. (See 24 Oldest Fast Food Chains in the World)
2. What is Contorni means?
In terms of food, the meaning of the word contorni is a side dish that is healthy and delicious. In Italian cuisine, the contorni meaning is used to refer to the vegetables on the side, but in the Spanish language, it has different meanings. However, the most commonly used contorni meanings based on the use of the word contorno are as follows:
- Italian: It is a side dish served with the main meal. Its noun meaning is vegetables; contorno is a singular term and contorni is plural.
- Spanish: In Spanish, it refers to the boundary or a girth, probably an outline or outside line of a space or a figure.
3. What does Contorni mean on an Italian Menu?
An Italian menu has 5 sections that include appetizer, 1st course, 2nd course with side dish, 3rd course, and beverages. In an Italian menu, contorni are vegetable dishes, served as side dishes with the second course. The vegetables are raw or cooked and mainly served on a different platter than the second course. It prevents the contorni to mix with the main course. Must read 270 Really Delicious National Food of the World.
4. What are Different Vegetable Side Dishes in the Italian Menu?Photo by Tim Toomey on Unsplash
Vegetable side dishes are a must in Italian cuisine. You will find it in every restaurant, whether it be a traditional, classic, or healthy Italian restaurant. These may seem simple vegetables, but Italians are skilled in cooking them along with maintaining their freshness. After learning about contorni meaning, look at the list mentioning basic vegetables served in side dishes:
- Asparagi: Spears of fresh asparagus are served blanched or pan-roasted.
- Broccolini: Tender stalks or rabe of broccoli are sautéed in garlic and olive oil.
- Caprese: It is a fresh salad made from mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil leaves, with a drizzle of olive oil.
- Carciofi Ripieni: It means stuffed artichokes made from whole steamed artichokes stuffed with seasoned breadcrumbs. The stuffing is added to each open leaf of the artichoke.
- Insalata Mista: It means mixed salad and is usually a house salad served with its own twist in a different restaurant. One thing that is common in all places is the use of tomatoes, fresh greens, olive oil, and vinegar dressing.
- Fava Beans: On the American menu you know them as broad beans and in Italian cuisine, they serve them cold in salads and warm as a side dish.
- Peperonata: This dish comes with sweet Italian peppers roasted or grilled, sauteed with onions, tomatoes, or some seasonal veggies.
- Patate al latte: Thick potato slices cooked in milk and strained. The boiled potato milk is seasoned with nutmeg, pepper, and salt and topped with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (Parmesan cheese typically aged 1 to 3 years and not less than that).
- Spinach: Fresh spinach cooked with garlic and olive oil then topped with freshly shaved cheese.
- Zucchini: Squashed zucchini can be served sautéed, sauced, or stuffed.
5. What is a 7 Course Italian Meal?Photo by Klaus Nielsen on Pexels
There is much more to look forward to after knowing contorni meaning. Italians are traditional people and their rich culture can be witnessed through their food too. An Italian 7-course meal is like a feast that everyone enjoys. It is not just a meal because each course has many items. Here I will mention the 7 course Italian meal and the food items served in them.
a) Aperitivo and Antipasti
The meal begins with the bubbly beverage known as aperitivo. It contains champagne, prosecco, spumante, or wine. It is served with antipasti, a small dish of olives, cheese, or nuts. Antipasti mean appetizers and the singular term is antipasto. It contains a few or all of the following items:
- Artichoke hearts
- Assorted cheeses
- Assorted olives
- Ceviche with freshly caught mahimahi
- Crusty bread with garlic-balsamic vinegar and olive oil for dipping
- Mozzarella-prosciutto-basil logs
- Mozzarella-salami logs
- Tomato and mozzarella with sea salt, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar (Insalata Caprese)
It is a type of salad that can be served with an appetizer or with the main course. Insalata can contain all or a few of the following salads:
- Caesar salad with anchovies on the side with homemade Caesar salad dressing or ready-made dressings
- Marinated vegetables (cauliflower, carrots, smoked green olives)
- Pasta salad
c) Primi or 1st Course
After the contorni meaning, we are just getting started with our 7-course meal. Primi is the first course and is served after the appetizers and Insalata. Every dish served before Primi is at room temperature or chilled (beverages). Primi is the first hot food on your table and is heavier than appetizers. There is no meat in primi course, but it does have luxurious and rich food items like seafood or truffle, soup, lasagna, risotto, broth, gnocchi, or pasta. (See Why is it called Continental Breakfast?)
d) Secondi or 2nd course
It is served once you finish the 1st course. The second-course meal is full of different meat and seafood options. Meat options largely depend on the region and commonly there is beef, chicken, turkey, lamb, etc. prepared in different styles. Meat can be served as sausages or grilled. Seafood options that you might get are lobster, fish, shrimp, etc. You can get yourself two dishes for the second course. In the 2nd course, you also get contorni.
e) Formaggi e Frutta
This course is rich and delicious because it has fresh fruits and cheese. After the heavy main courses, you are headed towards the end of this 7-course meal where you can enjoy a selection of regional cheese. The delicate flavors of the cheese will be complemented by the flavors of the seasonal fruits. After learning about contorni meaning, are you not enjoying this delicious journey? (See What meanings and symbolism do fruits have?)
f) Dolce and Caffe
Every meal has something sweet after the meal and in Italian cuisine, you get to enjoy Dolce. It is an Italian term for dessert that includes cake, pie, panna cotta, tiramisu, gelato, or sorbetto. They have cannoli and zeppole which are regional special desserts. As you enjoy Dolce, your warm and strong espresso will be served without sugar or milk.
After a day full of all these courses and desserts, one last item of the cultural Italian meal is digestive. It is a type of digestive alcoholic drink that will help you in digesting all that you have enjoyed eating the entire day. Amaro, grappa, or limoncello are a few digestive traditional Italian alcoholic drinks. Check out 54 Best Dip for Chip Fries and Tortilla.
6. What is Bevande on an Italian Menu?Photo by Lee Myungseong on Unsplash
There is a separate section for wine and other hard drinks on the Italian menu. Different restaurants have different options of drinks that are served by bottle or glass. You can get red, white, or sparkling wine. Italian people rarely drink cocktails with meals. Beers are enjoyed with pizza. Water is customarily ordered because they do not serve water. You can get frizzante (sparkling water) natural (still water) with fresh meals.
So, today you get to know that contorni meaning is different in Italian and Spanish languages. What does contorni mean on an Italian menu? The answer to this question is hidden in all those healthy veggies. Have you tried the 7 course Italian meal yet? (See 26 Lesser Known Wine Cork Art Ideas)