36 Recipes for Old-World Italian Food

Updated: Apr. 12, 2024

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

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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

Go to Recipe

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

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Pasta Fagioli 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 Fagioli 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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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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Beefy Eggplant Parmigiana

I developed this recipe one summer when my husband grew eggplant in the garden. I was thrilled when the parmigiana 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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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
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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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Vegetable & Cheese Focaccia

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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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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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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Spinach 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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Tomato & Artichoke Bruschetta

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

Pastina can also taste wonderfully in this soup.

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Ricotta Gnocchi in Tomato Sauce

If you like trying out new dishes and enjoy Italian food, you should give this recipe a try. We think 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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Penne with Tomatoes & White Beans

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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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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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