21 Introductory Recipes for Italian Cooking (2024)

For those of us who didn't grow up making pasta with our nonna, these classic recipes make an excellent and beginner-friendly introduction to the wonders of Italian cooking. From spaghetti with clams and garlic to Samin Nosrat's perfect panzanella, these easy Italian recipes span appetizers, salads, pastas, mains, sauces, sides, desserts, and drinks.

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Tomato Bruschetta

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Just about any summer co*cktail party can use a platter of bruschetta. This appetizer comes together in just minutes, making it easy on the host. It’s a great way to show off tomatoes when they're ripe and in season, whether they came from your garden, the farmers market, or the grocery store.

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02of 21

Pasta Aglio e Olio

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This simple, garlicky pasta uses pantry ingredients — the beauty comes from building out the flavor profile in theolive oil. Better yet, the whole thing comes together in the time it takes for the water to boil, making it the perfect back-pocket pasta to add to your weeknight rotation.

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03of 21

Potato Gnocchi with Butter and Cheese

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American chefs are busy riffing on this Italian classic. Here, recipe developer Liz Mervosh shares a traditional recipe for incredibly light, tender gnocchi dressed in a simple butter and Parmesan pan sauce.

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04of 21

Marcella Hazan's Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter

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13 Essential Tools for Italian Cooking

This butter-laced tomato sauce is as iconic as its author, the late Marcella Hazan, and it's easy enough to make a double batch to freeze for later.

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05of 21

Tomato, Basil, and Cucumber Panzanella with Grated Tomato Balsamic Vinaigrette

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Got stale bread? Put it to its highest purpose with a glorious panzanella by Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat author and TV host Samin Nosrat. Here, she grates the tomatoes into a gloriously balanced vinaigrette that brings fresh tomato, cucumber, and red onions together in harmony with just-baked croutons and a pop of basil.

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Basil Pesto

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Longtime test kitchen assistant David McCann loves to get wild with his pesto, and who could blame him? We've got a plethora of recipes for the pungent, pounded sauce, but start with this basic basil recipe, then branch out from there.

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Italian Wedding Risotto

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Former F&W culinary director at large Justin Chapple marries the best of two Italian favorites — Italian wedding soup and risotto — for a festive flavor bonanza that is worthy of its own celebration.

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08of 21

Florentine Butter Chicken

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This recipe, inspired by Food & Wine editor in chief Hunter Lewis' trip to Trattoria Sostanza in Florence, features tangy cultured butter, which has a higher butterfat content. The butterfat gives cultured butter a slightly higher smoke point and — when combined with olive oil — provides enough cooking time to finish the chicken and sauce simultaneously.

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09of 21

Easy Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta

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Panna cotta — literally "cooked cream" in Italian — is a silky, eggless custard thickened with a touch of gelatin.This easy recipe is an especially rich version made with all cream. Though often served unmolded, chef E. Michael Reidt's vanilla panna cotta is so tender that he serves it in ramekins.

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Campari Spritz

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Recipe developer Jasmine Smith played with the formula of an Aperol Spritz to create this refreshing and slightly more bitter take on the classic sipper. Grapefruit fizzy water, Prosecco, and blood orange juice make the whole thing sparkle and shine.

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Candied Almond Affogato

21 Introductory Recipes for Italian Cooking (11)

Technically, all you need for an affogato is gelato and espresso, but why not live a little? This easy, adaptable recipe adds almond liqueur (or orgeat if you want to skip the booze), candied almonds, and crushed amaretti cookies for a delightful crunch.

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The F&W Guide to Making Pizza at Home

21 Introductory Recipes for Italian Cooking (12)

F&W editor in chief Hunter Lewis dedicated himself to the art of at-home pizza, and the team broke down the process into bite-sized pieces, from crust to toppings, with recipes aplenty. Start with our classic Cheese Pizza recipe and soon you'll find yourself a little pizza heaven.

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13of 21

Spaghetti with Clams and Garlic

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"I look forward to going to Sicily for many reasons," says chef Frank Castronovo of his biannual trip to southern Italy. "One of them is because I'm amazed at how many times Frank [Falcinelli, his co-chef] can order linguine con vongole." Their exquisite, super-simple version is packed with garlic and a judicious amount of crushed red pepper. If you prefer, shell the clams before tossing them with their juices in the pasta.

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14of 21

Pappardelle with Red Wine and Meat Ragù

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This spectacular pasta dish combines wide, flat pappardelle with a meaty ragù made from red wine, ground beef and turkey, and dried porcini mushrooms. It takes only about a half hour to pull together.

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15of 21

Broccoli Rabe and Ricotta Frittata

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Though frittatas are often served cooled as a first course, they make an equally good main dish, either warm or at room temperature. Here, creamy ricotta mellows the bitter bite of broccoli rabe.

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16of 21

Tuscan-Style Veal Chops

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"When you grill a piece of meat and then anoint it with some kind of fat, it mixes with the meat juices and creates instant sauce," grilling expert Steven Raichlen says. "At Peter Luger Steakhouse, in Brooklyn, steaks get finished with a pat of butter; other places use beef tallow." In Tuscany, olive oil is the fat of choice for finishing herbed veal chops like these.

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17of 21

Soft Polenta with Mixed Mushrooms and Gremolata

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1999 F&W Best New Chef Suzanne Goin melts down young greens and a mushroom blend (whatever you have on hand) with a generous helping of mascarpone to make a luscious, soul-stirring dish you'll whisk together over and over again.

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18of 21

Eggplant Caponata with Golden Raisins

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Spread it on crostini, serve it with Parmesan, or just eat it by the spoonful. Chef Ben Towill's golden raisin-loaded caponata balances sweetness with the tang of jalapeños, tomatoes, olives, capers, and eggplant that caramelize in the pan. Make a giant batch and serve it with everything, as an appetizer or a super-happy snack.

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Antipasto Salad with Bocconcini and Green-Olive Tapenade

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In 2018, Food & Wine named this recipe from legendary chef Nancy Silverton as one of our all-time best. The salad combines crisp iceberg lettuce, creamy balls of mozzarella, spicy-tangy peperoncini, salty olives, and savory salami into a celebration of bold flavor, thrilling texture, and all-around delight.

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Spinach Salad with Bagna Cauda Dressing

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In the Piedmont region of Italy, the warm anchovy–olive oil sauce called bagna cauda is typically served as a dip for vegetables. Here, chef Justin Smillie turns it into a warm dressing for baby spinach, adding fresh breadcrumbs for crunch.

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Pinzimonio with Tonnato Sauce

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Raw vegetables take center stage in 2009 F&W Best New Chef Nate Appleman's knock-your-socks-off appetizer that replaces the traditional olive oil dressing with tonnato — a sauce made here from canned tuna, lemon juice, anchovies, mayonnaise, and capers.

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21 Introductory Recipes for Italian Cooking (2024)

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