Italy probably makes you think of the “Dolce Vita”, the Trevi Fountain in Rome, and the spectacular rise and fall of the Roman Empire.
There’s another thing Italy’s really famous for... the flavours of the food grown and made there. Italian food is often thought to be the best in the world and we’re inclined to agree!
In terms of simplicity and freshness, Italian food is pretty unbeatable. Mediterranean ingredients are both delicious and healthy.
Whether you’re just learning to cook or you’re quite experienced in the kitchen, there are plenty of Italian dishes that anyone can enjoy!
While we're not going to give you the recipe for each thing, there are plenty of Italian cuisine and cooking websites you can check out for step-by-step guides.
By the end of this article, you should have some ideas for cucina della mamma or homemade Italian cooking. There's no tinned spaghetti and meatballs and instant minestrone soup here!
Italian Pizza Recipes
The average person in the UK consumes 75 grams of pizza per week. This is just under a quarter of a typical pizza per person. It just goes to show how popular they are.
Much to the chagrin of Italian pizza chefs, though, most pizza aren’t cooked or prepared how they should be.
To make a pizza worthy of their praise, you’re going to have to focus on the dough. In order to get a thin base, you’ll need the following ingredients:
- 00 flour, which is rich in gluten and gives the dough its elasticity.
- Around 25 grams of salt per kilo of flour.
- Baker’s yeast
- Patience since you’re going to have to knead the dough for around 30 minutes and then let it sit for at least 8 hours.
The dough is then spread out without using rolling pin and baked in a very hot oven. Now that we’ve got the base, let’s have a look at the toppings.
Here’s our non-exhaustive list of the best traditional Italian pizza recipes for you to keep in mind for your next cooking tutorial.
1. Margherita Pizza
The magherita pizza is arguably one of the most popular pizzas of all time. It’s an Italian speciality, too.
It was made to seduce Margherita of Savoy but has since become a staple of most pizza parties.
- Tomato sauce
- Italian olive oil
2. Marinara Pizza
Despite the name, marinara pizza isn’t a seafood pizza. It was regularly eaten by Italian sailors in Naples, where it was created.
You don’t need a love of the sea to enjoy it, though.
- Tomato sauce
- Slices of fresh tomato
- Two minced garlic cloves
- A dash of olive oil
- 4 or 5 anchovies (optional)
3. Neapolitan Pizza
Anyone who’s visited Naples will know that pizza reigns supreme there. The following ingredients will be necessary:
- Cherry tomatoes
- Buffalo mozzarella
The calzone, which probably gets its name from a stocking due to its shape, can come with a number of different fillings.
The authentic Neapolitan calzone is made from these main ingredients:
- Spicy salami
Italian Pasta Recipes
There are 14 billion plates of pasta consumed around the world every year! Let’s be honest... who doesn’t have a couple packets of pasta in their cupboards at all times?
Fusili, penne, spaghetti, ravioli, etc.: there are as many types of pasta as there are Italian towns!
Pasta is regularly cooked al dente, which means “to the tooth”.
When cooked in this way, pasta is better for your health and it tastes better! You should generally take the pasta out a minute before the time on the packet.
Don’t hesitate to put the pasta in a lot of water to. Pasta that’s free to move around tends to taste better.
5. Carbonara Pasta
This is one of the most popular dishes in the world. We have to warn you, though, as any Italian chef will tell you, even though it's creamy, there’s not actually any cream in a traditional Italian carbonara.
The Italian recipe calls for:
- Onion, garlic, and bacon, which are then browned in a pan with some olive oil.
- Two eggs beaten with parmesan.
That’s it! It’s so simple... There are no words to describe how tasty it is.
6. Bolognese Pasta
A delicious bolognese sauce is made from:
- Minced beef or pork
- Tomatoes and carrots
- A glass of red wine and meat stock
- Olive oil and milk
- Salt and pepper
7. Pesto Pasta
Authentic Genovese pesto, which goes great with pasta, is made of:
- Pine nuts
- Pecorino Romano cheese
- Fresh basil leaves
- Garlic, salt, and olive oil
Lasagna is layers of pasta sheets with filling between them topped with cheese which is then cooked in the oven. Traditional lasagna has bolognaise sauce but there are varieties with spinach and ricotta, salmon, etc.
While we can't go into details on all the different pasta dishes, special mentions need to go out to spaghetti alla puttanesca, meatballs with a marinara sauce, fettuccine alfredo, and stuffed pasta like tortellini.
Italian Risotto Recipes
The first thing you need to consider when making an Italian risotto is the rice! Arborio or carnaroli rice, which are both grown in the north of Italy, are both good choices.
9. Traditional Italian Risotto
Whatever the flavour of your risotto, you have the get the basics right if you want it to be good.
For a traditional risotto, you’ll need:
- Dry white wine
- Parmigiano Reggiano
- Meat or vegetable stock
- Butter, salt, and pepper
You’ll also need a lot of patience. Don’t take your eyes off your risotto and stir it constantly.
10. Squid Ink Risotto (Risotto al Nero di Seppia)
Squid ink risotto originated in Venice and that’s where you’ll find the best in the world. In addition to the basic risotto ingredients, you’ll also need 500g of seafood, a pot of squid ink, and shallots.
11. Risotto al Porcini
Here you can just add porcini mushrooms to the traditional risotto recipe. Regular mushrooms can work, too.
Arancini, which are fried rice balls from Sicily, are often eaten as a starter (or antipasti). You’ll need the following ingredients:
- Long-grain rice, butter, salt, and saffron.
- Onions, bay leaf, celery, and a carrot.
- Minced beef, peas
- White wine and extra virgin olive oil
While this is the original recipe, there are other variations which can be stuffed with tomato and mozzarella, for example.
Traditional Italian Recipes
Italy isn’t just pizza and pasta, after all! There are many more traditional Italian recipes that you should be aware of if you want to start cooking delicious Italian dishes.
This popular Italian dish, which is often served with rice or potatoes, is made up of:
- Braised beef shank
- Bone marrow
- White wine
- Ripe tomatoes
14. Veal Milanese
Thin, crunchy, and golden (at the same time!), the secret to veal Milanese is in the breadcrumbs.
You’ll need the following ingredients:
- Slices of milk-fed veal
- Breadcrumbs you can add a few spices to
- Two eggs
- Clarified butter
Here’s another Italian starter which might surprise you with its simplicity. Layers of aubergines breaded with flour and eggs with a layers of mozzarella, parmesan, and tomato sauce between each one. Then you can pop it in the oven!
Carpaccio, which works great as a starter, is slices of finely cut raw beef atop parmesan, olive oil, basil, and sometimes a bit of rocket. You can also get salmon, aubergine, or tomato/mozzarella carpaccio (a good vegetarian option).
The Best Italian Dessert Recipes
Before you get your limoncello or coffee, don’t forget to get a delicious Italian dessert! Italian desserts have made their way into almost every restaurant due to how good they are.
This amazing coffee dessert is one of the most popular in the world. However, you really need to try an authentic Italian one.
Here’s what you’ll need to make tiramisu:
- Bitter cocoa powder
- Dark chocolate shavings
- Ladyfingers or biscotti
You should use mocha coffee and let it cool.
18. Panna Cotta
Panna cotta is another famous Italian dessert. It originated in the Piedmont region. To make an authentic Italian panna cotta, you only need 4 ingredients:
- Liquid cream
- A vanilla pod
It’s particularly nice with a raspberry coulis, chocolate, or caramel.
In Italy, panettone is popular for celebrating the end of the year. It’s also popular in a few other European countries.
This sweet bread with raisins and fruit can be quite complicated to make, but with a bit of practice, you’ll get there. You’ll need:
- A gluten-rich flour and yeast
- Warm water and caster sugar
- Egg yoke
- Butter, salt, and orange tree honey.
The traditional recipe calls for raisins, candied oranges and cirtron, two vanilla pods, and rum. However, you can also have chocolate chips.
Cassata is a delicious Sicilian cake made from:
- Icing sugar
- Candied oranges
Water and liqueur is also used to keep it moist.
Now you should have a few ideas for Italian dishes to make, just make sure your cupboards and fridge are kept well stocked with Italian sausage, prosciutto, pancetta, porcini mushroom, potato (for gnocchi), plenty of vegetables, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil, of course.
Patience, passion, and practice are the three most important ingredients, though. Nevertheless, a tutor in Italian style cooking could help you progress more quickly!