25 Authentic Recipes That Will Transport You to Italy
These authentic Italian recipes are mouth-wateringly delicious and true to the classics. Whether it's a seafood stew, a hearty pasta dish or a sweet dessert, these recipes come from Italian chefs like Fabio Viviani, Domenica Marchetti, Lidia Bastianich and more. Recipes like Macaroni with Sausage & Ricotta and Italian Rice & Peas (Risi e Bisi) are hearty and flavorful.
Brodetto di Pesce (Adriatic-Style Seafood Stew)
You will find versions of this hearty fish stew all along Italy's Adriatic coast. In Abruzzo, the stew is spiked with hot pepper and served with grilled or toasted bread to sop up the sauce. Be sure to find the freshest fish possible and serve with your favorite Italian wine.
Macaroni with Sausage & Ricotta
A bit of sausage goes a long way in flavoring the creamy ricotta tomato sauce in this healthy and quick pasta recipe. Serve with a green salad and crusty Italian bread.
Cauliflower with Anchovies & Oil-Cured Olives
This healthy cauliflower side dish recipe features assertive flavors that Italians covet: garlic, anchovies, olives, capers, plus a splash of good wine vinegar.
Peeled shrimp may be convenient, but here the shells--and heads if you are lucky enough to find them still on--are transformed into a quick stock that adds a boost of flavor. Serve the garlic-sautéed shrimp as an appetizer or use them as a topping for pasta or risotto.
Ribollita, a traditional hearty Tuscan soup, typically uses day-old bread to add body and thicken the broth. This ribollita recipe uses a bean mash, which keeps the soup gluten-free and adds fiber. Garnish with extra-virgin olive oil or pepper and grated Parmesan.
Fresh Pasta with Quick Bolognese Sauce
Bolognese is not your average spaghetti sauce--it's known for its richness that's developed through a slow cooking process--but on a weeknight, it's not practical. This version speeds up the classic Italian recipe for a quick and easy Bolognese sauce with Italian sausage to build flavors fast. The cooking time is about 35 minutes for this mind-blowing pasta sauce. If you don't have Grana Padano cheese, Parmesan works just as well in a pinch.
Italian Rice & Peas (Risi e Bisi)
This risotto-like combo of rice and peas is made with a very cool technique that infuses the dish with one of the great tastes of spring.
Created by chef Fabio Viviani of Siena Tavern in Chicago, this Amatriciana sauce is a classic of modern Roman cooking (though it most likely came from the town of Amatrice about 90 miles away). Typically, it's made with few ingredients: garlic, guanciale (cured pork jowl), cheese and tomato. This version doctors up jarred sauce to keep it quick and calls for easy-to-find pancetta in place of the guanciale. This tomato sauce is sometimes paired with bucatini; here, Fabio dresses up rigatoni with it.
Venetian Spice Cookies (Bicciolani)
The intense blend of spices in these cookies is a tip of the hat to Venice's history as a conduit for the spice trade between Europe and the Far East.
Tomato-Basil Soup with Herbed Focaccia Croutons
Created by chef Fabio Viviani of Siena Tavern in Chicago, this vegetarian tomato-basil soup recipe takes full advantage of fresh tomatoes. Roma or plum tomatoes are fleshy, low in seeds and cheap--making them a good candidate for tomato soup. During peak season you may also see other suitable plum-shaped heirloom varieties at your farmers' market, but you can also ask for any low-seed, fleshy varieties they may have. While this silky soup is the perfect partner for grilled cheese sandwiches, the homemade croutons add an herby-crunchy accent that should not be missed.
Fried Asparagus & Squash Blossoms
Fritto misto, mixed fried foods, is a typical Italian nibble. Be sure to salt the asparagus and blossoms as soon as they're out of the oil so that the crystals will stick to the food.
Dandelion Greens with Toasted Garlic & Almonds
This salad recipe works for just about any green, but we especially love it with the light bite of assertive greens like dandelion or escarole. If you want to make it with mellower greens like chard or spinach, skip the blanching (Step 1), which is included to tame the bitter flavor.
Gnocchi with Truffle Parmesan Sauce
This gnocchi recipe was created by chef Fabio Viviani of Siena Tavern in Chicago. No need for homemade gnocchi when you can dress up store-bought pasta with this special sauce. A bit of truffle oil is the magic ingredient that turns pillowy gnocchi into an extraordinary dish with minimal effort. You can find it in most well-stocked supermarkets near other flavored oils.
Herb-Crusted Mediterranean Sea Bass
This whole fish smothered with herbs and buttery breadcrumbs is simple enough to let the flavor of the Mediterranean seafood shine through. If cleaning and prepping the fish for this sea bass recipe isn't your thing, most fish counters at larger markets will do it for you.
Shaved Artichoke Salad with Shrimp
Venice was built on saltwater marshes in the 6th century, and many local crops like the city's Sant'Erasmo artichokes, have a delicate taste of the sea. For this healthy salad artichokes are sliced thin--a great use for a mandolin if you have one--and served raw. When paired with the sweet-salty shrimp the combo evokes the flavors of the lagoon. For tender and tasty results, buy the smallest, freshest artichokes you can find.
Bucatini alla Puttanesca
This classic Italian pasta recipe for bucatini (spaghetti with a hole in the center) with a flavorful tomato sauce, seasoned with olives, anchovy, oregano and capers, comes together in just 30 minutes. Puttanesca was named after the "ladies of the night" who, according to legend, cooked it to seduce their clients. Serve atop sautéed chicken cutlets with a simple tossed salad for a restaurant-worthy meal.
In this take on tiramisù, the Italian Christmas bread pandoro is used instead of ladyfingers to make this praiseworthy dessert. If you prefer ladyfingers, use 8 ounces in place of the pandoro.
Pasta alle Erbe
Lidia Bastianich's rustic pasta recipe from Umbria would typically be made with foraged greens, but certainly chard, spinach and common chicory are delicious in this dish. Collard, dandelion or mustard greens would be good too. (Adapted from Lidia Cooks From the Heart of Italy, Knopf, 2009.)
Sweet & Sour Rabbit (Rabbit Saor)
Here rabbit (or chicken) is cooked in the style of sarde in saor, a classic dish where sardines are fried in olive oil, mixed with onions and raisins sautéed in the same flavorful oil and then finished with a jolt of vinegar. Juniper berries add a woodsy essence.
Cartwheel Pasta with Peppers & Onions
This simple pasta recipe is one of the best ways to enjoy sweet bell peppers. The pasta sauce--red peppers stewed with caramelized onions and tomatoes--is tossed with wagon-wheel pasta for an easy and filling pasta dinner.
Called sea beans in the U.S., samphire is crunchy seaweed that adds brininess to dishes and can be eaten raw or cooked. Look for it in gourmet markets or fish markets or order online at melissas.com.
Mixed Greens Salad with Blood Oranges
Bitter greens are balanced with a honey-orange dressing in this quick and satisfying salad. Serve with garlic shrimp, grilled chicken or cheese toast to round out a meal.
Salsa alla Capricciosa
This is a beautifully simple, but full-flavored tomato sauce from Lidia Bastianich. Serve over spaghetti or linguine, tossing the cooked pasta with half the sauce and some Grana Padano cheese, serving the rest of the sauce on top and passing more cheese.
Salmon Crudo with Fennel & Crispy Capers
Briefly freezing the fish makes it easier to slice in this healthy raw salmon salad. Serve as a first course or alongside your favorite Italian pasta recipe.
Ragù alla Bolognese (Classic Bolognese Meat Sauce)
This is a version of the famous meat sauce of Emilia Romagna, of which Bologna is the capital. Giuliano Hazan's family is from Emilia Romagna, and he learned to make Bolognese sauce from his mother, Marcella, who learned it from her grandmother, Mary. Its classic pairing is with homemade tagliatelle or pappardelle but it's also very good with rigatoni, shells or any substantial pasta shape, preferably one with ridges, that has nooks and cavities to trap the sauce. Adapted from How to Cook Italian by Giuliano Hazan; Scribner, 2005.