Italian cuisine is one of the most recognizable in the world. When we think pasta or pizza, we think Italian; but there is so much more to Italian food than just these two dishes.
Italy is composed of 20 different regions, and depending on where you are, the local cuisine can vary greatly. Northern Italy is known for hearty risotto and polenta dishes and is abundant in seafood. Central Italy has longer, warmer summers and is thus more suited to farming; hence, this is where you’ll find a lot of tomato-based dishes and even one of the world’s most expensive spices: saffron. It also features meat platters that have poultry, pork, beef, and lamb.
On the other hand, Southern Italy is known for dried pasta and bread, and they also eat a lot more greens and vegetables. They feature lamb and goat more heavily, and their cheeses also tend to be on the harder side, except for burrata and mozzarella.
Are you drooling yet? Don’t worry, you don’t have to go to Italy to enjoy Italian food! Here are some Italian recipes you can try that will have you doing a chef’s kiss!
1 Antipasto Recipes
Antipasto comes from the Latin root word anti which means “before” and pastus meaning “meal.” As its name suggests, it is the first course of a traditional Italian course meal: the appetizer. It usually includes olives, anchovies, cured meats, and hard and soft cheeses. It is very similar to the French charcuterie board, but whereas charcuterie has a focus on cured meats and cheeses, antipasto can also include seafood, mushrooms, and vegetables in oil.
2 Spaghetti a la Carbonara Recipe
Carbonara recipes abound on the Internet, but true traditional Italian carbonara only needs five ingredients: egg yolks, hard cheese, cured pork, black pepper, and pasta. The egg yolks give the pasta its signature creamy texture. The cheese, which is usually Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano-Reggiano (or a mixture of both, adds depth of flavor, balanced by the black pepper. The cured pork is usually guanciale (cured pork cheek) or pancetta (salt-cured pork belly), but if you can’t find these at the nearest deli, you can also substitute either with bacon. Timing is key in preparing this dish as the heat from the freshly-cooked pasta will heat the eggs and melt the cheese to create a silky sauce, so make sure to toss the pasta gently but quickly.
3 Bolognese Recipes
Bolognese is an Italian meat sauce that is used in pasta dishes like ragu, lasagna, and spaghetti alla bolognese. Pronounced /bow-luh-nayz/ in English or /boh-loh-nye-ze/ in Italian, this versatile sauce is made with ground beef or pork, soffritto (a mixture of celery, carrot, and onions braised in oil), tomato paste, wine, and sometimes, milk.
4 Pesto Recipes
Pesto is a green, herb-based sauce that is usually tossed with pasta or used to flavor bread, or added to meat and seafood. It is made with basil, particularly, the sweet basil called Genovese basil, which originates from Genoa, Italy. It is what gives pesto its signature green color and unique herby taste. The classic pesto alla genovese recipe also includes garlic, Parmigiano cheese, and toasted pine nuts are added, and all of these are blended together with olive oil. If you want to make pesto but can’t source pine nuts, you can also substitute them with cashews.
5 Margherita Pizza Recipe
The Margherita pizza or pizza Margherita is a classic Neapolitan pizza that is topped with basil, mozzarella, and tomato. It is a simple pizza, but one that has complex flavors from its well-balanced ingredients. Pizza Margherita was supposedly invented in 1889 by Raffaele Esposito, a chef at Pizzeria Brandi. It is said that he made this in celebration of the unification of Italy, and thus used ingredients that represented the Italian flag: basil for green, mozzarella for white, and tomato for red. He then named the pizza after Margherita of Savor, the Queen of Italy.
6 Focaccia Recipe
Focaccia, pronounced /foh-ka-cha/, is an Italian flatbread that is made using olive oil and flavored or topped with herbs and flaky salt. It has roots all the way back to ancient Rome, where it was called panis focacius, which translates to “flatbread baked on the hearth.” Its signature look, which involves holes poked into the bread before baking, allows it to stay flat while it is in the oven. It is most commonly topped with rosemary, but it can also be baked plain and then used as a sandwich bread later on.
7 Osso Buco Recipe
Osso buco is an Italian beef casserole that features veal or beef shanks. Osso buco ingredients also include vegetables like carrots, celery, and onions. These are all braised in tomato sauce, wine, and broth, and topped with gremolata, which is a green sauce made up of chopped parsley, garlic, and lemon zest. Osso means “bone” while buco means “hole,” which translates from Italian to “bone with a hole,” referring to the marrow in the shank bone, which is one of the highlights of this hearty beef casserole.
8 Tiramisu Recipes
Tiramisu means “pick me up” in Italian, which is the perfect name for this coffee-based dessert. It is made by dipping ladyfingers in espresso or strong coffee and layering it with sweetened mascarpone cream. It is then dusted with a layer of cocoa powder.
9 Panna Cotta Recipes
Panna cotta is a bit of a misnomer, as it means “cooked cream” in Italian even though the most “cooking” involved in making this creamy dessert is simply heating the cream to dissolve the sugar. The cream can also be infused with flavors such as vanilla, coffee, chocolate, or even fruits. It is then mixed with gelatin, which is the main ingredient responsible for the panna cotta’s signature silky texture. Panna cotta is a no-bake Italian dessert that is best made ahead and served cold.
10 Other Italian Recipes
If you can’t get enough of Italian food, here are more Italian recipes you can try: