Italian cuisine is well known as being up there with the best in the world. The Mediterranean diet forms the basis of Italian food and many tourists visit places such as Milan, Bologna, Napoli and the Amalfi Coast to enjoy authentic Italian recipes, most of which have been perfected over centuries by homemakers who made the most of the ingredients at their disposal.
Therefore, it is possible to recreate some of the finest Italian food right in your kitchen. These recipes will be sure to rival any of your local Italian restaurants, provided you have the right ingredients, most of which can usually be found at your local supermarket. This list includes foods enjoyed in all corners of Italy but which are not be as well known outside the Bel Paese. Moreover, they are relatively simple to make and this list also includes one of the best Italian instant pot recipes.
1. Authentic Italian Recipes – Spaghetti alla Puttanesca
This Neapolitan dish dates back to the 19th century and has an interesting history. The word ‘puttanesca’ derives from the word ‘puttana’ which means ‘whore’ in Italian. There is a theory that the dish was invented by prostitutes in one of the bordellos in the working class neighbourhoods of Naples, and that the sauce was designed to lure customers in with its powerful aroma. This dish is actually quite simple to make and requires few ingredients. The anchovies are optional as the original Neapolitan dish does not include them, but they are quite popular outside Naples. Serves 3-4.
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 2 large cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- ½ tsp chilli flakes
- 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
- 400g can chopped tomatoes
- 3 or more anchovy fillets, finely chopped
- 100g pitted black olives
- 2 tbsp capers
- 400g dried spaghetti
- ½ small bunch of parsley, finely chopped
- Bring a pot of water to the boil with a tablespoon of salt. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a pan and add the onion, garlic and anchovies.
- Stir in the tomatoes, anchovies, olives, chilli flakes and capers into the and let simmer for 15 mins. Season to your taste.
- Cook the spaghetti while the sauce simmers until al dente. Drain and toss with the sauce and the last tablespoon of oil. Add the parsley
2. Authentic Italian Recipes – Polenta
This dish is a staple of Italian cuisine, as well as Swiss cuisine and Balkan cuisine. Originating in Northern Italy, this simple dish was essential among the poorer peasant classes. It was traditionally made using grains such as farro, millet and spelt until corn was introduced to Europe from America in the 16th century. It usually accompanies a main course, but butter, cheese and sauces can also be used to enjoy polenta as a meal in itself.
Polenta usually takes a long time to cook, simmering for around 45 minutes and requires constant stirring. However, this cheesy polenta with sausage ragout recipe uses store-bought instant polenta which takes just a few minutes. Serves 4.
- 200g instant polenta
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 onion
- 5 pork sausages
- 250ml chicken stock
- 400g can chopped tomato
- 1 tbsp tomato purée
- 4 rosemary sprigs
- 150g smoked cheese
- Use a large casserole dish and heat the oil. Cook the chopped onion and garlic and throw in your sausages. Break the sausages into smaller pieces as they cook. When cooked, add the chopped tomatoes, most of the rosemary, the stock and the tomato purée. Simmer until the sauce is thick and season to your taste.
- While the sauce simmers, prepare the polenta according to the packet’s instructions. Stir in the cheese and add seasoning. Next, place the polenta onto each plate, top with the ragout sauce and sprinkle with the rest of the rosemary.
Polenta is particularly popular in Italian ski resorts. Check out our article on best apres-ski foods to read about other dishes on offer when hitting the slopes.
3. Baccala Mantecato
A dish that is often served alongside polenta, baccala is a delectable meal of salted and dried cod. This dish dates back to a time when cod was particularly abundant in Italian waters and has a mild flavour that can absorb any seasoning. Baccala mantecato is an iconic dish of Venetian cuisine whose tradition dates back to when the Venetian Republic was a major European trading hub. The cod is poached with garlic and whipped with olive oil into a creamy texture. Serves 3-4.
- 600g of pre-soaked salt cod fillet
- black pepper
- 1 litre of milk
- 10 black peppercorns
- 1 bay leaf
- 250 milliliters of extra virgin olive oil
- chopped parsley
- Place the cod, milk, peppercorns and bay leaf in a saucepan. Simmer very gently for 10 minutes. Take off the heat, cover and leave for a further 10 minutes
- Next, remove the cod from the milk and mash it into flakes with a fork, removing all remaining skin and bones.
- Place the fish in a food processor along with 2–3 tablespoons of the milk and pulse until a paste forms.
- On a low speed setting, add the oil but by bit. Once the oil is used up, the baccala should have a light, fluffy consistency.
- Finally, taste and add seasoning to your liking. Let cool and garnish with some parsley. Place in the fridge until ready to serve.
4. Authentic Italian Recipes – Bucatini with Mushrooms and Sausage
This pasta dish originates in Umbria in central Italy, the only landlocked region in the Apennine peninsula. Umbria is famous for its meat dishes and you’ll find sausages in many of the meals from here. This authentic Italian recipe includes a rich and creamy sauce and can be made with various types of pasta or meat depending on what you have available. Serves 4.
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 400g bucatini
- 20g dried porcini mushrooms
- 4 large sausages
- 2 teaspoons chilli flakes
- 100ml white wine
- 3-4 garlic cloves
- 150ml double cream
- grating of nutmeg
- handful of chopped parsley
- grated parmesan
- Place the dried mushrooms in a large pan with 500ml boiling water. Set over a low heat and let simmer for 10-15 minutes to make a mushroom stock.
- Next, heat the the oil in a large pan over a medium heat and squeeze the sausage meat from the skins into the pan. Fry for 5-8 minutes. Break it up with a wooden spoon as it cooks, until it is lightly browned.
- While it cooks, bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and drop in the bucatini. Move it around to ensure it doesn’t stick together and cook for 10 minutes. In the meantime, add the garlic and chilli flakes to the sausage meat and fry for 1 minute.
- Next, pour in the wine. Cook for 5 more minutes until the wine has reduced. Then, add in the rehydrated mushrooms and the stock. Season with salt and black pepper and simmer.
- After about 10 minutes, transfer the bucatini straight from its cooking water into the mushroom sauce. Keep cooking the bucatini by simmering it in the broth so as to allow it soak in the flavour.
- Continue to move the pasta in the broth until most of the water has been absorbed. Stir in the cream, parsley and a grating of nutmeg.
- Stir and add seasoning to taste. Serve with parmesan.
5. Authentic Italian Recipes – Chicken Piccata
Lastly, for those of you who are a fan of instant pot cooking, we have an instant pot recipe which combines fresh herbs, tangy lemon, capers, butter and chicken to make chicken piccata, a modern combination of classic Italian cooking techniques, including sautéeing thin slices of meat and dressing fried meat with a lemon and butter pan sauce. Serves 4.
- 4 chicken breasts
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1/4 cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp drained capers
- 2 tbsp fresh parsley
- lemon slices
- 300g rice
- Cook rice in a pot.
- Season the chicken, select sauté on the Instant Pot and adjust to normal. Heat oil in the pot and add chicken. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes per side until chicken is browned.
- Add the chicken stock. Press cancel and secure the lid on the pot.
- Next, close the pressure-release valve and select manual. Cook at high pressure for 3 minutes. Once cooked, use a quick release to depressurize. Then, press cancel.
- Place the chicken on a serving platter and cover it to keep warm.
- Add lemon juice to cooking liquid in the pot. Select sauté and adjust to normal. Simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Press cancel.
- Then, whisk the butter into the sauce.
- Add the capers and parsley.
- Finally, pour the sauce over the chicken and serve with the rice. Serve alongside lemon slices.
Interested in trying more Italian instant pot recipes? Check out https://www.allrecipes.com/gallery/instant-pot-italian-recipes/