37 Recipes for Old-World Italian Food (2024)

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37 Recipes for Old-World Italian Food (1)Kristin SutterUpdated: Sep. 26, 2023

    These classic Italian foods are heavy on the Parmesan. What could be better for a dinner with the whole family?


    Great-Grandma’s Italian Meatballs

    My great-grandmother started this easy meatball recipe with our family. We use ground beef and turkey for these meatballs, and the flavor’s so good, you won’t miss the extra calories. —Audrey Colantino, Winchester, Massachusetts

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    Check out these must-have Italian cookbooks for eating your way through Italy.


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    Pasta fa*gioli Soup

    My husband enjoys my version of this dish so much that he doesn’t order it at restaurants anymore. With fresh spinach, pasta and seasoned sausage, this fast-to-fix soup is a meal on its own. —Brenda Thomas, Springfield, Missouri

    (Sop up this soup with a piece of one of these types of Italian bread.)

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    Pasta fa*gioli al Forno

    The name of this Italian-inspired dish means "baked pasta with beans." But my busy family translates it as "super satisfying dinner." —Cindy Preller, Grayslake, Illinois

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    Taste of Home

    Nana's Italian Roulade

    My great-aunt from Sicily taught my mother how to stuff and bake a steak in a jelly-roll style. It’s unique and really special in our family. —Roseanne McDonald, Days Creek, Oregon

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    Taste of Home

    Beefy Eggplant Parmigiana

    I developed this recipe one summer when my husband grew eggplant in the garden. I was thrilled when it won high honors at a national beef contest. —Celeste Copper, Baton Rouge, Louisiana

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    Chicken Piccata with Lemon Sauce

    Once you've tried this tangy, yet delicate lemon chicken piccata, you won't hesitate to make it for company. Seasoned with parmesan and parsley, the chicken cooks up golden brown, then is drizzled with a light lemon sauce. —Susan Pursell, Fountain Valley, California

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    Pressure-Cooker Penne with Meat Sauce

    This pressure-cooker pasta is delicious and super easy. I like to serve it alongside a chopped salad with Italian dressing. If you have leftovers, try them spooned into individual ramekins and baked with a little extra sauce and cheese on top. —Virginia Butterfield, Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania

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    Taste of Home

    Chocolate Almond Pizzelles

    If you love fun baking gadgets, you'll enjoy making these crispy, almond-flavored cookies, which get their unique waffle design from a pizzelle maker. They bake up golden brown in only a few minutes. Feel free to double the chocolate drizzle if you'd like to cover the cookies more generously. —Hannah Riley, Norwalk, Ohio

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    Creamy Polenta

    Serve this creamy polenta with roasted chicken or grilled pork instead of potatoes or rice. Dress up the polenta by topping it with sauteed mushrooms, onions and spinach. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen


    Best Lasagna

    Want to know how to make lasagna for a casual holiday meal? You can't go wrong with this deliciously rich meat lasagna recipe. My grown sons and daughter-in-law request it for their birthdays, too. —Pam Thompson, Girard, Illinois

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    Italian Shredded Pork Stew

    Need a warm meal for a chilly night? Throw together this slow-cooked stew that’s brightened with fresh sweet potatoes, kale and Italian seasoning. The shredded pork is so tender, you’re going to want to make this dish all season long. —Robin Jungers, Campbellsport, Wisconsin

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    Slow-Cooker Short Rib Ragu over Pappardelle

    An irresistible sauce gives the beef in this short rib ragu another dimension of flavor. Nearly any starchy side, such as potatoes or polenta, will work in place of the pasta. Short ribs are my crowd-pleaser weekend meal for all occasions. —Missy Raho, Morristown, New Jersey

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    Shrimp 'n' Spinach Risotto

    I enjoy concocting new, healthy recipes and spinach is one of the few vegetables that my husband will eat. My creamy risotto makes a great side dish, but doubles as a meal-in-one as well. —Jennifer Neilsen, Williamston, North Carolina

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    My family eats this flavorful bread as fast as I can make it. Sometimes I add different herbs, red onion or crumbled bacon. It's one of my best recipes!—Mary Cass, Baltimore, Maryland

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    Taste of Home

    Turkey Scallopini with Marsala Sauce

    My family requests this entree at least once a month. The slightly sweet Marsala sauce is yummy over the turkey slices and hot cooked noodles. —Briana Knight, Ferndale, Washington

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    Eggplant Zucchini Bolognese

    I roast the veggies while the pasta cooks, making this a quick dish. This meal-in-one dish blends rustic comfort with fresh flavors. —Trisha Kruse, Eagle, Idaho

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    Taste of Home

    Spaghetti Meatball Supper

    It was such a joy to come home and find my mom making spaghetti and meatballs for dinner. This recipe has always been dear to my heart. —Debbie Heggie, Laramie, Wyoming

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    Homemade Ravioli

    I love to bake and cook, especially Italian dishes like this homemade ravioli recipe. In fact, my idea of a perfect day consists of cooking my family's favorite foods then watching them dig in!—Lori Daniels, Hartland, Michigan

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    Eggplant Rollatini

    Want to learn how to cook eggplant? Here's where to start. These authentic eggplant roll-ups may take some time to prepare, but the end result is restaurant-quality. Your family will request this recipe time and again. —Nancy Sousley, Lafayette, Indiana

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    Chicken Escarole Soup with Meatballs

    This is an old recipe from southern Italy. My mother gave it to me when I was first married. It started out as a holidays-only dish...but my children and grandchildren love it so much that we have it every chance we get!—Norma Manna, Hobe Sound, Florida

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    Pepper Ricotta Primavera

    Garlic, peppers and herbs top creamy ricotta cheese in this meatless skillet meal you can make in just 20 minutes. —Janet Boulger, Botwood, Newfoundland and Labrador

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    Taste of Home

    Spinach and Tortellini Soup

    A simple tomato-enhanced broth is perfect for cheese tortellini and fresh spinach. Increase the garlic and add Italian seasoning to suit your taste. —Debbie Wilson, Burlington, North Carolina

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    A healthy and refreshing appetizer, I enjoy bruschetta anytime of year. For serving guests, I like to slice the garlic instead of chopping it for both beauty and flavor infusion. This is also a simple make-ahead dish: You can mix it up, cover and refrigerate for a few hours before serving.—Gina Bergamino, Chanhassen, Minnesota

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    Summer Carbonara

    Basil and bacon make best summer buds in this smoky-sweet pasta. I pair it with a simple spring mix salad with balsamic dressing and a glass of good Chardonnay or cold iced tea. —Cathy Dudderar, Lexington, Kentucky

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    Traditional Italian Wedding Soup

    You don’t have to be Italian to love this easy-to-make soup with tiny round pasta! Homemade meatballs pair beautifully with ready-made stock and rotisserie chicken. —Mary Sheetz, Carmel, Indiana

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    Pastina can also taste wonderfully in this soup.


    Taste of Home

    Ricotta Gnocchi in Tomato Sauce

    If you like trying out new dishes and enjoy Italian food, you should give this recipe a try. Wethink you'll agree that homemade pasta just tastes better.—Jenn Martin, Sebago, Maine

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    Sicilian Pizza (Sfincione)

    My favorite pizza from childhood is still my favorite today. The crunchy bread-crumb topping sets it apart from its American counterpart. I like to top this pie with fresh basil. —Susan Falk, Sterling Heights, Michigan

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    Penne alla Vodka

    This easy and impressive pasta is always on the menu when my husband and I invite first-time guests over for dinner. Many friends have asked me to make the recipe again years after they first tried it. —Cara Langer, Overland Park, Kansas

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    Tuscan Fish Packets

    My husband does a lot of fishing, so I'm always looking for different ways to serve his catches. A professional chef was kind enough to share this recipe with me, and I played around with some different veggie combinations until I found the one my family liked best. —Kathy Morrow, Hubbard, Ohio

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    Lemon Parmesan Orzo

    A splash of lemon and a shower of chopped parsley make this orzo one of my family's most requested springtime sides. It's fantastic with chicken, pork and fish, or you can eat it on its own as a light lunch. —Leslie Palmer, Swampscott, Massachusetts

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    I learned how to make this dish from friends in Genoa, Italy, where they're known for creating tasty combinations of veggies, pasta and beans. You can sub feta cheese to give this a Greek twist. —Trisha Kruse, Eagle, Idaho

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    Sea Scallops and Fettuccine

    This luscious and lemony pasta dish is so easy, it's become one of our weekly meal mainstays. But it's also elegant enough to serve to guests. —Donna Thompson, Laramie, Wyoming

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    White Seafood Lasagna

    We make lasagna with shrimp and scallops as part of the traditional Italian Feast of the Seven Fishes. Every bite delivers a tasty “jewel” from the sea. —Joe Colamonico, North Charleston, South Carolina

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    Taste of Home

    Contest-Winning Easy Minestrone

    This minestrone soup recipe is special to me because it’s one of the few dinners my entire family loves. And I can feel good about serving it because it’s full of nutrition and low in fat. —Lauren Brennan, Hood River, Oregon

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    Shrimp Scampi

    This shrimp scampi recipe looks elegant enough to serve to company, but it’s easy to prepare. The bright flavors of lemon and herbs enhance the shrimp. Serve it over pasta and wait for the compliments. —Lori Packer, Omaha, Nebraska

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    Taste of Home

    Make-Ahead Spinach Manicotti

    When I invite people to dinner, many have started requesting this pasta bake ahead of time because it's that good. Plus, the manicotti is stuffed before it's cooked, making it even more convenient. —Christy Freeman, Central Point, Oregon

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    Chicken Cacciatore

    This easy chicken cacciatore recipe makes a good Sunday dinner, since it's so simple to prepare. This recipe is the best because it's loaded with lots of vegetables and is a family favorite. —Barbara Roberts, Courtenay, British Columbia

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    Originally Published: March 25, 2019

    37 Recipes for Old-World Italian Food (38)

    Kristin Sutter

    A big fan of homegrown cooking, Kristin has been a writer and editor for nearly 20 years. She has mastered the art of learning from her inexpert riffs on other people's truly good recipes.

    37 Recipes for Old-World Italian Food (2024)


    What is the oldest Italian dish? ›

    Testaroli has been described as "the earliest recorded pasta". It is also a native dish of the southern Liguria and northern Tuscany regions of Italy. Testaroli is prepared from a batter that is cooked on a hot flat surface, after which it may be consumed.

    What are 3 traditional Italian foods? ›

    Famous food and drink of Italy
    • Pizza.
    • Pasta.
    • Risotto.
    • Polenta and cured meats.
    • Seafood.
    • Gelato and Dolce.
    • Coffee and famous tipples.

    What is the most classic Italian dish? ›

    Pizza. Besides pasta, pizza is perhaps the most popular and recognized Italian food. Pizza is considered a national symbol representing Italy to the rest of the world, so much so that UNESCO has acknowledged pizza as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

    What is a classic Italian meal? ›

    Pasta, risotto, soup, polenta, and casserole—the “pastabilities” are endless when choosing what primo piatto you want to indulge in. By the time primi rolls around, you're absolutely famished. As you can tell, this course is definitely heavier than the first two but will be a little lighter than the Secondi Piatti.

    What is Italy's national dish? ›

    Answer and Explanation: The national food of Italy is a pasta dish that is called Ragu alla Bolognese, which is a Bolognese sauce of meat and tomatoes with tagliatelle pasta. The dish is also sometimes just called Bolognese, because the sauce has become so popular that it is often identified as the meal itself.

    What is the rarest Italian dish? ›

    Su filindeu—literally “threads of God” in Sardo—is unfathomably intricate. It's made by only three women on Earth, all of whom live on Sardinia. And they make it only for the biannual Feast of San Francesco. It's been this way for the last 200 years.

    What Italian food did America invent? ›

    Five Italian specialities that were not invented in Italy but… the United States
    • 01 ⸻ 06. New York pizzas. ©Rawf8/Getty Images Plus.
    • 02 ⸻ 06. New York pizza. ©James Andrews/Getty Images Plus.
    • 03 ⸻ 06. Chicago deep dish pizza. ...
    • 04 ⸻ 06. Spaghetti and meatballs. ...
    • 05 ⸻ 06. San Francisco cioppino. ...
    • 06 ⸻ 06. Garlic bread.
    May 24, 2023

    What did Italy eat before tomatoes? ›

    Before tomatoes, the Italian diet was largely similar to the diet throughout the rest of the Mediterranean. Bread, pasta, olives, and beans were all staples, and Italians also made a variety of different types of polenta.

    What do Italian locals eat? ›

    If you plan to eat lunch with locals, block out time. A typical Italian lunch consists of a primo (pasta, soup or risotto dish), a secondo (meat or fish-based dish) and a contorno (side dish). Italians love their carbs and enjoy adding freshly grated Parmesan cheese to their dishes.

    What is the trinity of Italian food? ›

    True Italian cuisine is made up of a holy trinity of Italian starches: pasta, risotto, and polenta.

    What is real authentic Italian food? ›

    Authentic Italian food uses fresh, seasonal produce in its dishes. This keeps things natural, and only quality ingredients make it into your meal. Plump tomatoes, crunchy asparagus, and aromatic basil help create those flavors for which Italian food is famous. Tender zucchini deserves its place on your plate too.

    What is the hardest Italian dish to make? ›

    Pasta alla carbonara! If the mixture of egg yolk and grated cheese is to thick it will be difficult to coat the pasta evenly, if it's too thin one risks cooking the eggs to a mess of scramble eggs and cheese. If the guanciale is cooked for too long it will be too crispy or even hard as bullets.

    What do Italians eat for Christmas? ›

    In Southern and Central Italy, baked pasta is a must. In Northern Italy, Lasagne Bolognese and filled pasta like manicotti and ravioli are traditional Christmas fare. Next comes the main event, the meat. Roasted veal, baked chicken, sausages or braised beef are common Natale entrées worth celebrating.

    What is the most famous Italian dish in America? ›

    1. 1 Garlic bread84%
    2. 2 Lasagna83%
    3. 3 Macaroni and cheese80%
    4. 4 Spaghetti with meatballs80%
    5. 5 Ravioli79%
    6. 6 Pasta with Tomato Sauce78%
    7. 7 Taco Salad76%
    8. 8 Fettuccine Alfredo75%

    What is a typical menu in Italy? ›

    Most dinners consist of a salad, the primo (pasta or soup dish) and the secondo (meat or fish dish). The Italians also enjoy cooked vegetables like artichokes, eggplants, mushrooms, spinach and zucchini, which they either buy at the market or grow in their gardens.

    What is the main food of Italy? ›

    The Mediterranean diet forms the basis of Italian cuisine, rich in pasta, fish, fruits and vegetables. Cheese, cold cuts and wine are central to Italian cuisine, and along with pizza and coffee (especially espresso) form part of Italian gastronomic culture.

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