There’s a reason Italian food is so popular here in America. It’s just flat-out delicious. Whether a recipe is exactly like you’d find an Italian Nonna (or her grandson) making in Italy or it’s an Italian American dish created by immigrants, the combinations of flavors the Italians have perfected over centuries appeal to all.
These 21 recipes all call on the Italian tradition, and you’ll find them in Italian restaurants—both independent and fast casual—throughout the US. They range from irresistible tomato, cheese, and pasta casseroles and flavorful soups to everyone’s favorite spaghetti and meatballs. These don’t need to be relegated to restaurants.
Adding a few of these Italian recipes to your regular rotation will make your taste buds happy, your tummy happy, those you cook for happy, and you happy.
Bruschetta with Tomato and Basil
Bruschetta at home will always be better than any restaurant starter. Blanched, peeled tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, basil, salt and pepper. Does it get more Italian than these simple ingredients? Mixed together they become a topping for toasted baguette slices.
While this may not be a traditional dish from Italy, it’s inspired by its flavors and served in many Italian restaurants. It’s so easy and quick to put together that you’ll serve it often. Cook flour-dredged thin chicken breasts in olive oil, white wine, and chicken stock, squeeze in some lemon, and throw on handfuls of beautiful, briny capers. In about 30 minutes, you’ll have all the yumminess!
Classic Minestrone Soup
Italians have as many recipes for minestrone as they have individual families. It’s that customizable. This version has the trio of carrots, celery, and onion of course, and also fennel, potatoes, cabbage, zucchini, and tomato plus white beans. Pasta is optional but recommended.
Cheese Stuffed Manicotti
Ricotta, parsley, and mozzarella—with a touch of lemon—create a manicotti filling that’s hard to resist. Cook manicotti shells and fill them with the cheesy mixture, or make it easier by piping the filling on fresh sheets of pasta and then rolling them. Then bake with seasoned tomato sauce for a satisfying Italian feast.
Spaghetti and Meatballs
Adding mushrooms keeps these beef and pork meatballs from drying out. Cremini mushrooms are in both the meatballs and the sauce. Make the sauce. Make and brown the meatballs. Then finish the meatballs in the sauce, mingling them together for maximum flavor. Spoon over pasta and make everyone happy.
Easy Tuscan Bean Soup
In Italy, simmering pots of soup are plentiful in homes throughout the country. This version makes use of canned beans to make a little less work of it all, but it’s still a robust Italian-inspired soup with plenty of vegetables that begs for a topping of Parmesan cheese.
Potato Gnocchi From Scratch
Gnocchi is easy to make and needs no special equipment. Bake potatoes, then mash them and work in flour, egg yolks, and salt. Roll into long cylinders and cut into 1-inch pieces. Then cook or freeze to serve with any sauce such as Butternut Squash Parmesan Sauce.
This Italian dish of braised veal shanks gets the flavor for its rich sauce from the marrow of the shank bone. Brown the shanks in fat rendered from pancetta and then sauté carrots, celery, and onion in the fat of both. Then add wine and simmer it all for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. It’s not difficult, but it does take time. Serve with gremolata.
Skillet Eggplant Parmesan
Why make eggplant Parm in a skillet instead of the traditional baked method? You’ll have a much easier cleanup because you bread and fry the eggplant in the same skillet you cook the whole dish in. You’ll need an oven-safe skillet—like a cast iron skillet—because it has to go from stovetop to oven.
When you need to serve a crowd, go for the classic. As opposed to frying on the stovetop, these eggplant rounds are roasted in the oven before assembling the casserole, which makes far less of a mess. Don’t skip salting the eggplant first to drain its moisture, or you’ll end up with a soggy mess.
Entrees are great and all, but don’t overlook how well received a good starter can be. Antipasto salad is hearty and perfect for sharing. Most of the work is chopping and assembly.
The Best Homemade Lasagna
Easy in the eye of the beholder, right? Some may find building this lasagna from scratch easier than buying a sub-par store-bought version that’s so very disappointing. Taking the time to make this ooey, gooey, scrumptious lasagna does not disappoint, especially if you freeze half of it (it freezes really well) and have a second lasagna dinner with no work at all!
Baked ziti has many of the attributes you love about lasagna but with less fuss. Choose your favorite—ground pork, beef, or veal—for this version that’s bursting with mozzarella, ricotta, and Parmesan. Use store-bought or homemade pasta sauce.
Stracciatella alla Romana
Sometimes referred to as Italian egg drop soup because of its resemblance to Chinese egg drop soup, Stracciatella is full of hot chicken broth, and drop dumpling-noodles of beaten egg, Parmesan cheese, spinach, and panko. It’s ready to serve in just 20 minutes.
Meatballs don’t have to be the partner to pasta or a hot sandwich filling. They can be a dish all of their own, and these meatballs are perfect for just that. Made with ground beef and pork, ricotta, Parmesan, fresh bread soaked in warm milk, and the rest of the usual meatball ingredient suspects, you tuck them in homemade or store-bought sauce to finish cooking them.
Risi e Bisi
Risi e bisi is Italian for rice and peas. This Venetian, risotto-like dish also has ham, either in the form of diced prosciutto or other dry ham, and gets finished with plenty of Parmesan cheese and parsley.
Classic Bolognese Sauce
A good Bolognese sauce is a thing of great beauty. Simmer slowly for 2 hours with onions, carrots, celery, clove, cinnamon, tomatoes, milk, and meat such as beef or pork. Serve it over fresh pasta or your favorite cooked dried pasta.
Pasta e Fagioli
This traditional peasant soup is full of beans and pasta plus vegetables and tomatoes. Made with chicken stock, leftovers get thicker after refrigeration because the pasta absorbs the stock, but it’s still delicious either way.
Linguine With Clam Sauce
This red-sauced version of the classic Italian American linguine dish uses both fresh and canned clams. It gets a punch of flavor from some fennel and a little dash of anise liqueur. Serve with crusty Italian bread to sop up all the yummy sauce.
This versatile Italian relish can be a pasta sauce, a dip, or a spread. Made with eggplant, onions, garlic, tomatoes, pine nuts, olives, raisins, capers, parsley, vinegar, sugar, and basil, then cook then cool the ingredients before serving.
Quick puttanesca uses pantry staples: canned tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, canned anchovies, and jarred olives and capers. Garlic, onion, and oregano season the sauce that’s traditionally served with spaghetti.