15 Italian Recipes So Good, You'll Think Nonna Made Them

Updated 05/08/19

Foodie Crush

While there's a myriad of different ways to enjoy Italian food, homemade salad, pasta, and pizza never fail to satisfy. Whether you're serving a crowd or just yourself, a fresh, flavor-packed salad served with a bowl of pasta or a slice of pizza is always delicious.

Next time you're craving Italian food, try your hand at these 15 recipes. They're shockingly easy to make and include both classic flavors and innovate ingredients. From traditional chopped salads and pasta with red sauce to pear and gorgonzola pizza and white pesto spinach lasagna, these might just be the best Italian recipes of all time.

SALAD

Italian Chopped Salad

Italian Chopped Salad
The Modern Proper

The Recipe: Italian Chopped Salad

The Hero Ingredient: A traditional Italian chopped salad calls for ingredients like salami, olives, bell peppers, and tomatoes, but this recipe also includes pickled red onions for a little something extra.

Pro Tip: Be sure to sharpen your knives before trying your hand at this dish. It makes all the difference according to Holly Erickson of The Modern Proper.

Why We Love It: This salad is a healthy option that's seriously easy to make. It's full of fresh vegetables and coated in a simple homemade dressing that you can whip up in a snap.

Tuscan Tuna and White Bean Salad

Tuscan Tuna and White Bean Salad
Foodie Crush 

The Hero Ingredient: White beans provide a nice kick of protein to this salad that's perfect for lunch on busy days when you need plenty of energy.

Pro Tip: "You can certainly mix and match more Mediterranean or Tuscan ingredients into your salad as well like artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, pickled beans, or capers," Heidi Larsen of Foodie Crush points out.

Why We Love It: This fresh salad is made of healthy ingredients that you likely already have in your pantry. Think white albacore tuna, arugula, canned cannellini beans, cherry tomatoes, olives, red onion, and feta cheese.

Watermelon, Tomato, and Feta Farro Salad

Watermelon, Tomato, and Feta Farro Salad
Salt & Wind

The Hero Ingredient: Watermelon definitely stands out as the hero ingredient of this refreshing salad.

Pro Tip: Aida Mollenkamp, the founder of Salt & Wind, recommends letting the tomatoes, watermelon, olive oil, salt, and pepper set aside for 20 to 30 minutes in order for the flavors to combine and intensify.

Why We Love It: While this salad isn't exactly traditional Italian cuisine, it uses Italian staples in a fresh and new way. It would make a lovely light lunch or a small side dish with dinner.

Simple Italian Salad

Simple Italian Salad
The Modern Proper 

The Recipe: Simple Italian Salad

The Hero Ingredient: Pepperoncinis and olives give this classic Italian salad its authentic flavor.

Pro Tip: "This simple Italian salad is the perfect sidekick to any pasta dish and finds good company with a whole roasted chicken or delicate fish dinner," writes Erickson.

Why We Love It: It's a simple salad that packs in plenty of flavors. Along with romaine lettuce, red onion, pepperoncini, black olives, cherry tomatoes, and parmesan cheese, the dish is topped with an easy (and healthy) homemade dressing. All you need is red wine vinegar, olive oil, and some Italian herbs.

Class Caprese Salad

Classic Caprese Salad
Salt & Wind 

The Recipe: Classic Caprese Salad

The Hero Ingredient: You can't have a Caprese salad without fresh tomatoes. This recipe calls for both heirloom and cherry tomatoes.

Pro Tip: Whip up this easy salad in the spring and summer when the tomatoes will be at their freshest.

Why We Love It: Not only is this classic salad absolutely delicious, it takes just five minutes to make. All you need are tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, basil, olives, extra virgin olive oil, and salt.

PASTA

Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Burrata

Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Burrata
Half Baked Harvest 

The Hero Ingredient: Fresh burrata cheese takes this ordinary pasta dish to the next level. It's a cool, creamy addition to the meal that will make you feel like you're at an Italian trattoria.

Pro Tip: "I like to use both the tomatoes and the oil the tomatoes are packed in to create an extra flavorful sauce," Teighan Gerard of Half Baked Harvest explains. "Sun-dried tomatoes are a pricy ingredient, so why not use up every last bit of that jar, you know?"

Why We Love It: This pasta is simple and can be made with ingredients that you likely already have on hand. It's flavored with garlic, dried oregano, and chili flakes and the sauce is made with leftover pasta cooking water—a traditional method for creating a flavorful sauce.

Linguine with Clam Sauce

Linguine with Clam Sauce
Foodie Crush

The Hero Ingredient: Clams are definitely the star of this traditional Italian dish that calls for a homemade white clam sauce.

Pro Tip: "Fresh clams that are both open and closed can be used for the sauce, but if the shells don’t open, toss them! They’re dead," Larsen explains.

Why We Love It: Although it's not for everyone, anyone who enjoys fresh seafood will love this pasta—and if you can believe it, this dish is not as complicated to make as it might seem. In fact, it only requires about 10 minutes of prep time.

Baked Turkey Sausage and Mascarpone Stuffed Shells

Baked Turkey Sausage and Mascarpone Stuffed Shells
Spoon Fork Bacon

The Hero Ingredient: For this recipe, pasta shells are stuffed with mascarpone instead of ricotta and it's this creamy cheese that gives the dish its rich flavor.

Pro Tip: "Not only is this a great meal for a crowd, but it also freezes really well, which makes this dish a great one to gift to friends and family; or just to have in your own freezer to pull out at a future date, for a lazy night in," Jenny Park of the food blog Spoon Fork Bacon points out.

Why We Love It: This is a great dish to make ahead of time and save for later. To make the filling, you'll need Italian turkey sausage, onion, garlic, mascarpone, parmesan cheese, and Italian seasoning. It all goes into jumbo pasta shells topped in marinara sauce and mozzarella before baking in the oven.

White Pesto Spinach Lasagna

White Pesto Spinach Lasagna
Half Baked Harvest

The Hero Ingredient: Two words: pesto ricotta. This recipe calls for a combination of ricotta cheese, spinach, and pesto, but honestly, the nutty pesto sauce is the star of this creamy, cheesy lasagna.

Pro Tip: To make this recipe easier, opt for no-boil lasagna sheets. "In my honest opinion, I think these are just as good as fresh pasta and so much easier," writes Gerard.

Why We Love It: This Italian dish is fit to serve to a crowd. It's a delicious white lasagna that differs from traditional lasagna with Bolognese sauce. You'll taste carmelized mushrooms, cooked spinach, pesto, and a rich cream sauce all layered in between thick ribbons of pasta.

Cashew Alfredo

Cashew Alfredo
Minimalist Baker 

The Hero Ingredient: This vegan alfredo sauce wouldn't be possible without cashews. This nut is used as the base for this modern play on the classic Italian favorite.

Pro Tip: If you're going for a gluten-free pasta dish, you can substitute noodles for zucchini spirals, according to Dana Shultz, the cook behind Minimalist Baker.

Why We Love It: This cashew alfredo pasta dish comes together in just 30 minutes and it's a healthy, vegan version of the traditional Italian meal. You'll need cashews, arrowroot starch, nutritional yeast, garlic, almond milk, and vegan parmesan cheese to bring it together.

PIZZA

Roasted Delicata and Spicy Italian Sausage Pizza

Roasted Delicata and Spicy Italian Sausage Pizza
Spoon Fork Bacon

The Hero Ingredient: Delicata squash is the main ingredient of this fall-inspired pizza recipe. Thin slices of this vegetable top the pizza for extra flavor.

Pro Tip: Teri Lyn Fisher suggests topping the finished pizza with crushed pepper flakes to complement the spicy Italian sausage.

Why We Love It: It's an elevated dish, bursting with fresh flavors and is quite simple to make. You can even use store-bought pizza dough to cut down your time spent in the kitchen. Along with the dough, you'll need thinly sliced delicata squash, marinara sauce, crumbled spicy Italian sausage, red onion, and mozzarella.

Gluten-Free Summer Salad Pizza with Socca Chickpea Crust

Gluten-Free Pizza
Feed Me Phoebe

The Hero Ingredient: The gluten-free pizza crust for this recipe comes together with chickpea flour and water, making chickpea flour the hero ingredient of this Italian dish.

Pro Tip: "Since socca pizza is really the type of pizza that is best eaten with a knife and fork anyway, it’s also the perfect vehicle for salad," according to Phoebe Lapine of Feed Me Phoebe.

Why We Love It: This Italian recipe features a gluten-free crust that requires just two simple ingredients. Then, it's topped with tomato sauce, tomato slices, and dollops of nut cheese to bake. After that, top the healthy pizza with a mixture of radicchio, arugula, and lemon juice.

Pea and Prosciutto Pizza

Pea and Prosciutto Pizza
The Modern Proper

The Hero Ingredient: Prosciutto, the Italian dry-cured ham, makes this pizza feel gourmet.

Pro Tip: Erickson advises using store-bought pizza for this recipe. "Of course, if you have time you can always make the dough yourself, but there’s no shame in letting someone else do the work for you," she writes.

Why We Love It: All you need in order to prepare this luxe pizza is pizza dough, parmesan cheese, prosciutto, goat cheese, and peas. You'll also need butter, garlic, flour, and milk to make the creamy white sauce that replaces the traditional red sauce. It's a recipe perfect for spring, thanks to the light and fresh toppings.

The Montanara Pizza

Montanara Pizza
Half Baked Harvest

The Recipe: The Montanara Pizza

The Hero Ingredient: San Marzano tomatoes give this pizza a traditional Italian flavor that can't be beaten.

Pro Tip: In order to make this pizza, you'll need to fry the dough before adding your toppings and popping it in the oven. "Fry the circle of dough for about one minute per side and remove from the oil," Gerard explains.

Why We Love It: This is no ordinary pizza recipe. It's a classic Italian fried pizza recipe that will change the way you look at regular pizza. It's essentially a Margarita pizza made with San Marzano tomatoes and then fried (because why not?).

Pear and Gorgonzola Pizza with Arugula

Pear and Gorgonzola Pizza with Arugula
The Butter Half 

The Hero Ingredient: The star of this pizza has to be the thin slices of pear that top the dish. They're unexpected and seriously refreshing.

Pro Tip: Abbey Rodriguez of The Butter Half prefers using ready-made pizza dough from Trader Joe's if you're not up to make the dough from scratch.

Why We Love It: It's a light pizza that won't leave you feeling overly stuffed after a few slices. Pear, gorgonzola cheese, and arugula create a fresh, tangy variety of flavors you'll want to enjoy again and again.

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