10 Italian Recipes Everyone Should Know

From lasagna to carbonara, these classic dishes will never let you down.

  • Carbonara. Six ingredients. A pound of bacon. Are you not sold yet?
  • Minestrone. This minestrone follows the Italian tradition of relying solely on the vegetables, beans and a scrap of parmesan rind for the flavor of the broth, which is made with a base of water. You can handle that. Really, you can.
  • Lasagna. Will you just look at the top of this thing? When it comes to lasagna, the more heat-tortured the top layer of cheese is, the better. (A recipe for bolognese is included. If that’s all you’re into, that’s fine by us.)
  • Risotto. It’s time to stop being intimidated by risotto. You’re just stirring rice for goodness’ sake. Turn on some music, revel in the bicep workout, and stop when it’s cooked through. Simple as that.
  • Ricotta gnocci. Forget about those potato-based belly bombs by the same name. These ricotta-based dumplings are easy, forgiving, and require little more than a bit of butter.
  • Meatballs. Ok, maybe ground short ribs aren’t an everyday ingredient, but this recipe can easily be made with good quality ground beef, so it stays. We like how the instructions command us to scoot some sauce into the pasta folds as we “bunch” the lasagna sheet on the plate.
  • Tomato sauce. Remembering that it’s winter, make this with canned tomatoes. It shouldn’t surprise you that butter makes this recipe sing. An onion and salt are the only other ingredients.
  • Hunter's-style chicken. You might know this belly-warming winter staple by its Italian name, cacciatore. Polenta, mashed potatoes or couscous would all be happy landing pads for the rich sauce and fall apart-tender chicken.
  • Pesto. You probably already know how to make a panini, so the arugula pesto is the focal point here. What, you thought we were going to tell you to make basil pesto? It’s winter!
  • Spinach and raisins. The Italians know how to meld sweet and savory in a single dish better than just about anyone, and this recipe is the case in point. One bite and you’ll be forever demanding wine-soaked raisins with your sauteed spinach.

So you wanna cook like an Italian nonna without shelling out for a ravioli stamper, sausage stuffer, or some other soon-to-be-collecting-dust piece of specialty equipment? No problem. Here are 10 essential Italian recipes you can master with average-Joe kitchenware and grocery-store staples. And since it’s chilly, we’ve tucked in plenty of carbo-loading opportunities. Let’s get started—click through the gallery above to see all the recipes.

Written by Food52 (@Food52)


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