Capers: These are the tiny flower buds from a bush that grows in the Mediterranean. They're typically pickled in vinegary brine or sometimes packed in salt. For something so small, they add big pungent flavor to sauces, condiments, and meat and vegetable dishes.
Pine nuts: Italian pine nuts have a delicate flavor and are used in sweet and savory dishes. They are probably best known as an ingredient that lends big flavor to Italian pesto.
Almonds: Available whole, sliced, chopped, candied, smoked, in paste, blanched, roasted and salted, almonds are loaded with good stuff. They contain calcium, fiber, folic acid, magnesium, potassium, riboflavin and vitamin E. Toast them to intensify flavor and add satisfying crunch.
Prosciutto di Parma: Another classic ingredient from the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy in the province of Parma. Proscuitto means "ham" in Italian and salt-cured prosciutto di Parma is tops in the field. The secret is the pig's diet of chestnuts and whey.
Anchovies: Real anchovies are found only in the Mediterranean. They are typically filleted, cured in salt, and canned in oil. Anchovies can be soaked in cool water to dilute the saltiness. Use sparingly to add depth of flavor to sauces, salads, and pizza.
Olives: Along with grapes and bread, olives were part of the sacred triad of Roman ingredients. They remain an important ingredient in Italian cuisine, appearing in everything from antipasto plates, to pasta and secondi dishes.