10 authentically Italian recipes

Helen Best-Shaw 9 June 2021

Here are ten authentically Italian recipes to showcase real Italian food

Poor Italian cuisine! Is there any other cooking as debased as Italian? From pasta with chicken to carbonara recipes using cream, what sometimes passes as Italian food would generally horrify any self-respecting Italian!

Here are 10 authentic Italian recipes that aren't so offensive.

Ragu alla Bolognese

Ragu alla Bolognese

I have to start with this; definitely not spag bol! Authentic Bolognese sauce or ragu alla Bolognese is one of the most comforting and delicious things you'll ever eat: a rich beef ragu made with pancetta, tomato and white wine and served with tagliatelle pasta.

This traditional recipe is really simple to make at home with minimal prep work involved! I will say, though, that it can’t be rushed. Take your time and enjoy the rich flavours.

Ciambellone Italian breakfast cake

If you want to try a traditional Italian breakfast, make soft and delicious Ciambellone to pair with cappuccino (oh, and no milky coffee after 11am either). It’s a soft and fluffy sweet cake, with a rich aroma of citrus and vanilla and shaped like a big donut. In Italy it can be made with chocolate, vanilla or a combination of both (marmorizzato). The recipes vary; this one uses yogurt.

Grissini—traditional Italian breadsticks

Making your own breadsticks is easy, and I think they’re far nicer fresh straight from the oven. Grissini originated in the Turin region of Northwest Italy, supposedly as an easily digestible food for a young duke. They are delicious and easy breadsticks; long, twisted and crunchy and enjoyed as an appetizer or served along with soup.

Pappa Al Pomodoro

Pappa al pomodoro is a classic Tuscan tomato soup which uses up stale bread; this is frugal, tasty peasant food at its very best. Adding some Grana Padano and Prosciutto di San Daniele makes it a dish worthy of a dinner party. Just like with all these dishes, there are innumerable variations that have developed over the years, handed down over the generations from cook to cook in the family. 

Spaghetti Alla Siciliana

This authentic Sicilian spaghetti recipe uses only five ingredients. This dish is a fiery mix of hot pasta mixed with lots of garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, chillies and olive oil. I love strong robust flavours like this; the added advantage here is that it takes only minutes to make. Simple and gorgeous!

Italian bean soup

An easy, hearty, filling, protein-packed and flavour-filled bean soup, just like Nonna used to make. It's naturally plant-based so it makes a great option for meat-free days. I love the way this recipe uses a mixture of beans to give a full variety of flavours. Serve with your own home made Grissini from the recipe above.

Gnocchi alla Romana

Gnocchi alla Romana, also known as Semolina Gnocchi, is Italian comfort food. I love gnocchi, but I’m more used to the potato version. However, there are many types of gnocchi and I love them all. Gnocchi alla Romana, meaning “gnocchi in the Roman manner”, means gnocchi made from semolina flour, and baked rather than boiled. They are crispy and golden on the outside and tender on the inside. So good!

Beef Ossobuco

Ossobuco is a rich stew from beef or veal shanks. The meat is braised in a fragrant broth which includes wine and loads of vegetables. Long, slow cooking extracts all the flavour.

Tiramisù

OK, so this recipe isn’t quite the absolute original from the late 1960s. But the only change is to cook the eggs, rather than use them raw—I’m quite happy with eating Lion mark eggs raw. But other than that, this is your favourite restaurant dessert.

Caprese cake with almond and chocolate

In 1920 Chef Carmine Di Fiore made a chocolate almond cake but forgot to add flour. The resulting cake wasn’t a disaster—it was creamy on the inside but with a crunchy crust.

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