If you love Italian food, grow an Edible Italian Garden to have a fresh supply of tastiest vegetables and herbs. Even if you’re short of space, you can grow them in containers!
These herbs and vegetables are most important part of any Italian cookbook. And you can even grow them without a garden, in containers.
1. Cima di Rapa
Cima di Rapa is related to broccoli, it is quick to produce harvest and hardy enough to withstand off-season climates. Delicious when stir-fried in olive oil with garlic and chili flakes or in the salad.
How to Grow: Cima di Rapa requires full sun, drainage, regular watering and some staking to grow into a prolific and healthy plant. As it can be grown in a small space, it is easy to grow in containers.
Crispy, fresh head lettuce leaves are commonly preferred in salads, brushed with olive oil, and grilled.
How to Grow: Growing this leafy green is super easy in pots. Full to part sunlight, rich soil, cool weather and slightly moist growing medium. Learn how to lettuce in containers here!
3. Bell Pepper
Red, yellow, orange, green and purple, bell peppers can add color and flavor both to the recipes you prepare. You can roast them to make antipasti like they do in Italian restaurants.
How to Grow: Bell peppers are not difficult to grow in pots and need a sunny, warm location to thrive. The detailed growing guide is here.
4. Italian Basil
Use freshly picked leaves to make quick pesto sauce to top your pasta. Basil is indispensable for soups, salads, salsas, and even desserts.
How to Grow: Growing basil in pots is easy, you can even plant it in a small container like other herbs, place it in a warm and sunny space.
Check out why you should use leftover pasta water on your plants here
5. Allium Porrum
Also known as wild leeks, this Italian vegetable pairs well with bell peppers, garlic, eggs and even fish. You can try them solo as a sautéed starter dish or toss them blanched in a wholesome vegetable soup.
How to Grow: To grow, choose a pot that is 8-10 inches deep and place the place it in a spot that receives at least 6 hours of direct sun. See more of it here!
Cauliflower may not sound as Italian as other edibles; this is a versatile ingredient that can be used for adding a crunchy zest to pasta, soups, and roasted side-dishes. You can toss it with penne, cook it in fritters or add it to pizza crusts.
How to Grow: Surprisingly growing cauliflowers in pots is fun and easy, the growing guide is here.
Feed your Italian spirit with Italian Spinach Recipes. You can sauté this leafy green with olive oil or use it steamed in a spinach strata. In addition to being a super-food packed with fiber and vitamins, spinach is also easy to grow in containers.
How to Grow: Here’s our detailed step by step growing guide.
8. Red Onions
Red onions have a pungent flavor and are used in almost every cuisine. Italian chefs prefer to bake them with eggplants and oregano.
How to Grow: For growing onions in containers, choose a pot that is at least 10 inches deep, and as wide as possible. Maintain 3 inches of spacing, keep the planter in full sun.
When growing an Edible Italian garden in containers, don’t miss planting rosemary. It adds a pleasing taste to seafood, meats, baked potato and practically any dish that could do with a wee bit of garnishing.
How to Grow: Grow rosemary in a 10-12 inches deep pot, place it in a space that receives ample sunlight and water moderately.
10. Italian Chicory (Radicchio)
Despite bearing a resemblance to cabbage or red lettuce, the maroon-red leaves of radicchio are bitter-tasting and meaty. You can use them in salads, grilled or to make sauces and pasta fillings, or steam as a side-dish to comfort an upset stomach.
How to Grow: Radicchio is quick-growing and hardy and grows well in cool temperature. In climates with mild winters, winter is the best time to grow this.
Silky, tender eggplant is at the heart of many Italian favorites, including eggplant parm and caponata, not to mention molto pasta and pizza creations.
How to Grow: This tropical vegetable requires warm temperatures and regular watering. Like tomatoes and peppers, growing eggplant is easy in containers.
12. Plum or Roma Tomatoes
If you plan on using home-grown tomatoes for Italian cooking, make sure you don’t forget to grow Plum tomatoes. The regular tomatoes contain more water and less ‘flesh.’ Whereas, Roma or Plum tomatoes have thick meaty flesh with fewer seeds. You can use them to make sun-dried tomatoes, passata or bottled tomato sauce.
How to Grow: San Marzano is the most famous Italian plum tomato variety, growing these is similar to other tomatoes.
This aromatic herb is used commonly in Italian cuisines and pairs well with chicken and fish recipes. A primary herb in soups and stews, it also complements tomatoes and roasted potatoes.
How to Grow: Like other Mediterranian herbs, thyme prefers warmth, you can also grow it indoors near a sunny window.
14. Squash Flowers
Squash flowers are usually zucchini flowers, they can be eaten raw in salads, sauteed, or one of the most popular preparations is to stuff and fry them, as the delicate petals turn deliciously crispy.
How to Grow: The best part is you can harvest these edible flowers if you’re growing zucchini. Pick up male flowers as they don’t produce the fruits. Learn 5 ways to eat squash blossoms here!
There are two types of fennel that you can grow: Herb Fennel (Common Fennel) and Florence fennel (Bulb fennel). The herb fennel’s fragile, fine leaves are often used to garnish salads and roasts, while the bulbs (swollen stem base, which is used as a vegetable) are braised whole or roasted as a crunchy side dish served alongside roasted fish.
How to Grow: Both of them grow similarly, plant them in minimum 8-10 inches pot and keep the plants in full sun.
This edible thistle is a common staple of Italian gardens, where they are grown to grace borders or add life to a dull garden bed. Italians are the number one producer of artichokes in the world. You can add steamed artichokes to soups, or roast them with olives and fava beans for a fiber-rich diet, besides this the web is full of traditional Italian artichoke recipes.
How to Grow: Growing artichokes is most suitable in regions with mild winters and warm temperatures like California. Choose a really large container for each plant– a pot that is 36 to 40 inches wide and half deep at least is required.
Broccoli is one of the most nutritious vegetables with dark green, crisp and sturdy florets. You can bake, saute or grill it, or use it in salads or soup; there are myriads of ways.
How to Grow: You can grow one broccoli plant in 8-10 inches size container. Use well-drained soil and water in a way that soil remains slightly moist during the growing period.
Whether you grow Cannellini or Borlotti varieties, beans are sure to add an authentic Italian flavor to your minestrone and vegetable au gratin. The Borlotti type is a large speckled red bean that is preferred for use in soups; Cannellini, on the other hand, produces beautiful cream-colored beans. Both types can be dried for out-of-season use.
How to Grow: Both of them can be grown in containers, especially the Borlotti beans (also called Cranberry beans). Keep the plants in full sun, provide support.
Oregano is not common in Italian recipes as parsley or basil are but still an essential herb. A key ingredient in pizza and pasta and is often used to add a spicy zest to sauces and most Italian recipes featuring eggs, cheese, olives or tomatoes.
How to Grow: Oregano grows well in containers, even indoors, if the right amount of sunlight and warmth is available. Keep this pungent herb in full to part sun and water moderately.
Favored for its distinct, refreshing flavor, parsley is an essential Italian herb that can be added to any roast recipes, pasta or casserole. Here’re the 25 uses related to parsley we found interesting. Chopped fresh parsley leaves pair well with most savory dishes and ethnic recipes from around the world.
How to Grow: Probably one of the easiest herbs you can grow. Grow parsley in a small but wide pot, place this herb in a spot that receives full to part sun and keep the soil slightly moist.
This herb is similar to oregano but milder in taste and can be used interchangeably with oregano. Leaves, flowers, and tender stems can be added to stews, poultry stuffing, syrups, salad dressings, cheese mixtures for sauces and spreads, seafood, omelets, pizza, and sausages. Here’s an interesting article to read on Marjoram Uses in Italian cooking!
How to Grow: Considered as an annual herb, growing marjoram is no different than its other Mediterranean cousins. You can also grow it on a windowsill; a small 6 inches pot is sufficient for one plant.