19 Quick Recipes Inspired by the Flavors of Italy

spaghetti vongole
Lennart Weibull

Crispy chicken topped with marinara sauce and mozzarella. Cheesy polenta or savory risotto that warms the soul with each bite. Long noodles like spaghetti or linguine tossed with fatty bacon and eggs or fresh tomatoes and basil. These are the makings of classic Italian and Italian-American recipes that everyone knows and loves. Some of these elemental dishes—like lasagna or homemade pasta—can be time-consuming, which is where these quick Italian-inspired recipes come in. When you're short on time but don't want to compromise on flavor, turn to these dishes.

Start with a spectacular seafood staple: Martha's Spaghetti alle Vongole. Spaghetti is tossed in a sauce made with homemade roasted-garlic butter, crushed red-pepper flakes, dry white wine, clam juice, and small clams. The dish is topped with lots of freshly chopped parsley and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and dinner is served. A few Italian side dishes are also quick and easy favorites—make our Basic Polenta, which is made with coarse-ground polenta meal, unsalted butter, dried bay leaves, freshly ground Parmigiano-Reggiano, and plenty of salt and pepper. Try it in our Parmesan Pork with Polenta and Asparagus or serve a hearty ladle of chili and roasted vegetables over the polenta for a satisfying winter meal. Another dish that can serve as either a side dish or the main event is risotto—in just under one hour, you can create a rich, creamy bowl of arborio rice with lemon and parsley, saffron, or mushroom and herbs.

Of course, every good meal ends on a sweet note. While homemade gelato or tiramisu can be time-consuming, one quick Italian-inspired recipe that we love is Cannoli Dip. This fun and totally genius take on the classic handheld dessert features a bowl of creamy dip topped with mini semisweet chocolate chips. Serve it alongside homemade cannoli chips made from wonton wrappers for a treat that will surely disappear in a flash.

Enjoy these quick Italian recipes for dinner.

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No-Bake Lasagna with Ricotta and Tomatoes

no bake lasagna

In just 25 minutes, you can create this quick, rich pasta recipe that has all the colors of the Italian flag. Lasagna noodles are cooked and layered with ricotta cheese, basil leaves, cherry tomatoes, lots of garlic, and Pecorino Romano.

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Basic Polenta

Marcus Nilsson

No matter which way you slice it, polenta is an Italian staple. This basic recipe is perfect for serving alongside hearty, braised meats or earthy poultry.

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Lemon-and-Parsley Risotto

lemon parsley risotto
Sidney Bensimon

Master the art of making risotto with this quick Italian recipe. Here the creamy rice dish is flavored lemon and parsley, which adds bright, fresh flavor to cooked arborio rice.

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Red Wine Pasta

red wine pasta on plate
Bryan Gardner

There's an entire bottle of red wine (yes, really!), in this quick Italian-inspired recipe. Spaghetti is tossed in a sauce made from sautéed pancetta, shallots, garlic, and plenty of wine.

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Pasta Carbonara

Pasta Carbonara recipe
Bryan Gardner

This Italian-American staple calls for just a few ingredients—pancetta, eggs, heavy cream, and Parmigiano-Reggiano—but the result is super special.

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Spaghetti with Tomato Sauté

Spaghetti with Tomato Sauté
Frédéric Lagrange

Take a twirl of this summer twist on classic spaghetti pomodoro. Instead of using jarred marinara sauce, create a quick sauce using three pints of cherry tomatoes, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and ricotta cheese.

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Cannoli Dip

A quintessential Sicilian dessert is cannoli. And while we love the crunchy outer shell, there's nothing like the sweet, creamy filling. That's why we turned it into a genius dip made with full-fat ricotta, mascarpone cheese, and confectioner's sugar.

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All you need is a food processor and five minutes for this pesto. Try it drizzled over a caprese salad or roasted vegetables, tossed with pasta, or folded into omelets or scrambled eggs.

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Roasted Branzino with Lemon and Thyme

Whole-Roasted Branzino with Lemon and Thyme on plate with lemon wedges and silverware
Ryan Liebe

Bring a taste of the Mediterranean home with this quick and easy fish recipe. Whole roasted branzino is stuffed with sliced lemon and thyme sprigs—it comes together in just 30 minutes.

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Spaghetti with Fresh Tomato-Basil Sauce

Spaghetti and Fresh Marinara with Basil
Marcus Nilsson

Fresh beefsteak and heirloom tomatoes shine in this simple six-ingredient pasta recipe. Spaghetti or linguine is tossed with lots of extra-virgin olive oil, minced garlic, basil sprigs, and salty Parmigiano-Reggiano.

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Ravioli with Roasted Eggplant, Tomatoes, and Capers

Ravioli with Roasted Eggplant, Tomatoes, and Capers
Kate Sears

Dress up cheese ravioli with roasted summer vegetables; use the starchy pasta water to create a thickened sauce for the pasta. Top with capers, basil, and of course Parmigiano-Reggiano for a quick Italian-inspired dinner.

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Cacio e Pepe with Lemon


Think of this as grown-up macaroni and cheese. This quick Italian pasta recipe, which translates to cheese and pepper, features two kinds of cheese—Grana Padano and Pecorino Romano—plus freshly cracked pepper. The secret ingredient? The zest and juice from a Meyer lemon.

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Prosciutto Carbonara with Spinach

Prosciutto Carbonara with Spinach
Kate Sears

Prosciutto isn't just for an antipasto board. We've mixed it with spinach and rigatoni in a carbonara-inspired sauce for a delicious twist on the Italian-American classic.

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Simple Risotto


Use this quick Italian-inspired recipe as the base for making savory, satisfying risotto then try four spectacular variations—Milanese-style with saffron, tomato, mushroom, or seafood with shrimp and scallops.

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Spaghetti and Eggplant "Meatballs"

Spaghetti and Eggplant "Meatballs" recipe
Chris Simpson

In under one hour, this vegetarian twist on spaghetti and meatballs, an Italian-American classic, will be on the table. The meatballs are made with a combination of roasted eggplants, breadcrumbs, and white beans—and we're sure you won't miss the meat!

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Chicken Parmesan

chicken parmesan

No Italian-American dinner is complete without this crispy chicken staple. Make our Breaded Chicken Cutlets, then top with basil leaves, marinara sauce, and grated mozzarella cheese.

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Every good Italian meal starts out with a stunning antipasto board. The combination of ingredients is up to you, but we love mozzarella balls, fresh figs, artichoke hearts, mixed olives, pepperoncini, and lots of cured meat.

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Chicken Marsala

Instant flour helps to create a crispy crust on chicken cutlets, which are dressed with mushrooms and a marsala wine sauce. This Italian-inspired recipe is a breeze to make—and it's absolutely delicious.

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