30+ Most Common (And Important!) Vegetables in Italian

When you picture a luscious Italian dinner, does your mind jump to pizza, pasta and gelato?

You’re not alone—but you might be surprised to learn that verdure (vegetables) also play a leading role in making Italian food so good.

That’s right. Fresh, delicious vegetables star in some of Italy’s best-loved dishes!

In this post, you’ll learn the Italian names for a smorgasbord of veggies, setting the stage—and the table!—for Italian vocabulary mastery.

And afterwards, you can check out this post on Italian fruit.


Most Common Vegetables in Italian

These common vegetables are available at any Italian supermercato (supermarket) or fruttivendolo (greengrocer).

I’ve also found that stopping by my local mercato contadino (farmer’s market) is a great way to sample local produce and practice my Italian speaking skills.

You may notice that some of these Italian vegetable names sound like their English equivalents, but be careful: If you order a peperoni pizza in Italy, you’ll receive a pizza with bell peppers!

Additionally, some vegetable names that are singular in English are plural in Italian, like asparagi (asparagus) and spinaci (spinach).

Aglio Garlic
Asparagi Asparagus
Broccoli Broccoli
Barbabietola Beetroot, beet
Carota Carrot
Carciofo Artichoke
Cavolfiore Cauliflower
Cavolo cappuccio Green cabbage
Cetriolo Cucumber
Cipolla Onion
Fagiolini Green beans
Lattuga Lettuce
Melanzana Eggplant
Patata Potato
Peperone Bell pepper
Piselli Peas
Pomodoro Tomato
Porro Leek
Ravanelli Radishes
Rucola Arugula/rocket
Sedano Celery
Spinaci Spinach
Zucca Squash
Zucchina Zucchini

Important Vegetables in Italy

Foodies around the world cherish Italian dishes made with common ingredients like tomatoes and eggplants. However, some of the most treasured vegetables in Italian cooking are little-known outside of Italy.

It might take some searching, but adding these vegetables to your plate will be worthwhile for both your taste buds and your knowledge of Italian culture!

Friarielli (Broccoli Rabe)

This bitter green may look like your standard broccoli, but it’s actually a closer cousin to turnips and bok choy!

Broccoli rabe goes by many names in Italy’s different regional dialects: friarielli in Naples, cime di rapa in the Apulia region, and rapini in Tuscany, to name a few.

It’s particularly beloved in Naples, where it’s often sautéed and paired with sausage in sandwiches or on pizza.

Peperoncino Calabrese (Calabrian Chili Pepper)

These small but fiery peppers from the sun-kissed Calabria region rank at 15,000 to 30,000 Scoville units (a little spicier than a Serrano chili).

They add heat and heartiness to Calabrian staples like ‘nduja, a spreadable sausage. I’m also a fan of bomba calabrese, a spicy chili sauce I first tasted while visiting relatives in small-town Calabria.

Cicoria (Chicory)


If you’ve never eaten it before, bitter chicory could be a bit of an acquired taste. In Italy, however, it’s valued for its versatility—the entire chicory plant is edible!

While its leaves can be enjoyed both raw and cooked, the roots have long been toasted, ground and brewed as a coffee substitute. Even those pretty purple flowers can be eaten raw in salads.

Chicory is also an excellent source of dietary fiber and vitamins A, C and K.

Finocchio (Fennel)


Just like chicory, the flowering fennel plant is entirely edible! Italians serve the crisp fennel bulbs (pictured on the right) in salads, stews and gratins.

Fennel flowers, seeds and leaves are also used to provide a licorice-like flavor to products like finocchiona (a Tuscan salami) and fennel liqueur.

Cavolo Nero (Tuscan Kale)

Kale may be a trend in the English-speaking world, but it’s been a staple of Tuscan cuisine for centuries.

This sturdy vegetable is known as cavolo nero (literally “black cabbage”) in Italian and is often used in ribollita, a hearty vegetable stew with beans and leftover bread.

Fiori di Zucca / Fiori di Zucchina  (Squash Blossoms)

The delicate yellow-orange flowers of the zucchini plant are a much-loved delicacy throughout Italy.

Although they’re usually battered and fried, I also enjoy eating oven-roasted squash blossoms stuffed with ricotta and mozzarella. Che buoni (how delicious)!

How to Learn Vegetables in Italian

Even if you can’t make it to an Italian mercato for a combination vocab practice session and grocery shopping trip, there are many ways to grow your newfound veggie vocabulary! These include:

To help you learn Italian vegetables in context, you can also watch Italian TV shows and movies that use these words.

Not sure which ones include your vocabulary terms? You can use FluentU to search real Italian video clips that include specific topics or words.

The FluentU language learning program uses authentic videos, interactive subtitles, flashcards and personalized quizzes to help you learn Italian in context—and learning words in a useful context means you’re more likely to remember them later.


In addition to being healthy and yummy, the vegetables used in Italian cuisine provide a great glimpse into what makes Italian food so special—fresh ingredients prepared simply but masterfully, allowing tastes and textures to really shine.

Stocking up on Italian vegetable vocabulary is a wonderful way to whet your language learning appetite, and it might just help you add some fabulous new flavors to your own dinner table.

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