Italians tend to be fairly orthodox when it comes to pasta: Bolognese sauce with tagliatelle, carbonara sauce with spaghetti, and never ever chicken with any pasta dish whatsoever! And there is one basic ingredient in almost every single genuine Italian pasta dish: extra-virgin olive oil. The star of the show, able to liven up any dish, bind sauces (or ruin them, if you don’t use good-quality olive oil), and add that unique taste that makes dishes really stand out.
Here’s an example: you can’t make basil (or any other) pesto without a good base of extra-virgin olive oil. The same is true of many other recipes, from the most elaborate down to the most basic, such as spaghetti with tomato sauce, made with an onion-and-carrot sofrito where extra-virgin olive oil is key.
And who would dream of making a lasagne without a drop of extra-virgin olive oil? Not to mention one of the great recipes of Italian cuisine: spaghetti all’aglio e olio, proof once again that simplicity lies at the heart of exquisite perfection.