Italian Main Dishes
"Sautéed mushrooms can make almost any inexpensive red wine taste better," says sommelier Jake Kosseff.
Sun-Dried Tomato and Arugula Pizza
The secret to this crispy pizza: giving the dough lots of time to rise so it's pliant enough to stretch very thin.
Free-Form Sausage-and-Three-Cheese Lasagna
The style of this gooey lasagna is called free-form because the pasta can be arranged in different ways—for instance, folded over the filling—instead of traditionally layered.
Tuscan Tomato Bread Soup with Steamed Mussels
There are many versions of bread soup; this one, based on traditional peasant fare, is as thick as a bread pudding. The soup is delicious on its own, but we think the steamed mussels with their broth make a wonderful addition.
Grilled Fish with Artichoke Caponata
To top meaty mahimahi, Michael White makes a vinegary caponata (a Sicilian relish) with fresh artichoke hearts, not the traditional tomatoes and eggplant. Trimming artichokes can be time-consuming, so buy marinated artichoke hearts from the grocery store instead.
Beef Brasato with Pappardelle and Mint
Chris Cosentino braises beef shank and oxtail in red wine to make a brasato he serves with house-made mint pappardelle. This easier version uses just beef shank. Fresh pappardelle from a store replaces the house-made kind.
Risotto with Capers and Espresso
Massimiliano Alajmo's trick for risotto is to stir in a little reserved hot stock at the end, a technique that keeps the rice from getting too gummy. Here, Alajmo infuses the stock with espresso beans, then garnishes the risotto with pungent capers. Then he sprinkles the dish with ground espresso beans to intensify the coffee flavor, though they add a slight graininess.
Spinach and Ricotta Gnudi with Tomato-Butter Sauce
Chef Tommy Habetz describes gnudi as "ravioli filling without the pasta." Gnudi are of Tuscan origin, and a fresh Tuscan white wine—particularly a Vernaccia—makes a perfect pair for Habetz's recipe.
Grilled swordfish steaks with a touch of lemon make for a healthy and quick dinner.
Gorgonzola, Fig and Pancetta Pizza
This sweet and salty pizza is topped with salty pancetta, gorgonzola, and juicy fresh figs.
Braised Chicken all'Arrabbiata
All'Arrabbiata means "in an angry style" in Italian. At the new Marzano in Oakland, California, chef Robert Holt braises his chicken with five kinds of peppers in a wood-fired oven. Spice the chicken with poblano and chile flakes, then braise it. For extra kick, toss in some hot pickled cherry peppers.
Celery Root and Mushroom Lasagna
In Marche, we only make lasagna for special occasions like Christmas," Fabio Trabocchi says. For this streamlined version of his luxe lasagna in bianco (white lasagna), he layers flat noodles with a supremely rich sauce, along with a root-vegetable ragù, fresh mozzarella and whole basil leaves.
Italian Meatballs in Caper-Tomato Sauce
Milk-soaked bread helps make chef Massimiliano Alajmo's beef-and-pork meatballs incredibly light; bits of chopped olive make them extra-flavorful. The thick tomato sauce coats the meatballs nicely and doubles as an excellent pasta sauce.
Balsamic-and-Rosemary-Marinated Florentine Steak
Chef Nancy Silverton adores Antica Macelleria Cecchini, Dario Cecchini's famous butcher shop in the Tuscan town of Panzano, where she buys thick porterhouses to make this classic recipe. Chef Matt Molina and his entourage prepared the dish on their last night in Italy, marinating the meat in olive oil, balsamic vinegar and rosemary.
Butcher's Ragù with Fusilli
This sauce, an ever-so-slightly creamy ragù made with ground beef, pancetta and ham, is flavored with tomato paste instead of canned tomatoes.
Sweet peas and salty bacon come together n this creamy risotto.
Sardinian Stuffed Eggplant
Chef Efisio Farris, says that his mother used only eggplants from the first pick of the season (le primizie) for this dish because of their supple texture and earthy-sweet flavor without a hint of bitterness. But if you don't have the primizie option, you should seek out firm, heavy eggplants with smooth, evenly colored skin. Check for ripeness by pressing them lightly; if this leaves an imprint, the eggplant is ready to use.
Lamb Chops and Ragù with Malloreddus
"I learned to make ragù from sausage or the bits of meat and fat left over from butchering animals—including the scraps and tough shoulder meat from pigs, wild boars and lamb," says Efisio Farris. "This recipe honors the technique I learned from my mother, Katerina." Farris tosses the ragù with the classic Sardinian pasta malloreddus, then serves it with succulent lamb chops.
Tuscan-Style Spareribs with Balsamic Glaze
Bruce Aidells loves to barbecue spareribs, but his favorite way to prepare them is to generously season the ribs with a mix of aromatic herbs and spices and slow-roast them until tender and crisp. Like his favorite Tuscan cooks, he finishes the ribs with a simple balsamic glaze.
Osso Buco with Citrus Gremolata
Ethan Stowell sticks to Italian tradition when making osso buco, topping braised veal shanks with a citrusy gremolata (orange and lemon zest mixed with garlic and parsley). He advises spooning out and eating all of the marrow from the bones for what he calls "a mouthful of fatty goodness.
Shellfish Paella with Fregola
Fregola replaces rice in this Sardinian paella; the chewy, dot-shaped semolina pasta comes from the western part of Sardinia, near Oristano, where more than four centuries of Spanish occupation left Catalan influences that are still prominent today. In another change from the traditional Spanish recipe, this version is made with only seafood (no chorizo).
Smoky Pork Pappardelle
For the luscious meat sauce here, Gerard Craf braises pork with apples and honey, which adds some unexpected sweetness. Another surprise: He finishes the pasta with a sprinkling of smoked salt.
Roman-Style Braised Chicken with Roasted Peppers
This lush, homey Roman favorite is a simple braise of chicken with white wine, tomatoes, garlic and a colorful mix of roasted red, green and yellow bell peppers. As a shortcut, substitute roasted peppers from a jar.
Potato Gnocchi with Garlic Butter, Mushrooms and Snails
Chef Gabriel Kreuther makes gnocchi using fromage blanc, a fresh French cheese that creates a light texture and lovely tang; sour cream is a fine replacement. Snails add an earthy flavor to the dish (though the recipe is also delicious without them).
Spaghetti with Anchovy Carbonara
Chris Cosentino adds briny flavor to his pasta with cured tuna heart. He shaves it on right before serving. This recipe calls for anchovies, rather than the tuna heart Cosentino uses. Egg yolks form a silky sauce.
Seafood Stew with Saffron Zabaglione
To prepare this brothy stew full of wonderfully moist snapper, tender squid and plump mussels and clams, chefs at Don Alfonso teach students to prepare the ingredients separately so nothing gets over- or undercooked. A lush saffron zabaglione, which gets stirred into the stew, presents another fun challenge: to cook egg yolks in wine slowly over the gentle heat of simmering water until they're fluffy but not scrambled.
Cavatelli with Mussels, Lillet and Dill
The perfect match for this creamy cavatelli-and-mussels dish: Muscadet, a coastal wine that's superb with shellfish.
Chicken Parmesan with Pepperoni
Chef Bryan Vietmeier merges two Italian-American favorites here: chicken parm and pepperoni.
Slow Cooker Sunday Sauce on Spaghetti
This tomato-based pasta sauce is easy to make—just let all the ingredients simmer in a slow cooker for a few hours and serve with your favorite spaghetti.
To make her Sunday-supper scarpariello—chicken sautéed in a tangy lemon glaze with bell pepper—Fran Parisi always uses a whole chicken cut into pieces, then cooks it on the stove for hours. Grace Parisi opts for faster-cooking boneless thighs and skips the bell pepper in favor of jarred Peppadews, sweet-spicy pickled peppers from South Africa, sold in many US supermarkets.
Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe
Pasta cacio e pepe ("cheese and pepper") is made with Pecorino Romano, a tangy aged sheep's-milk cheese originally from Rome, and lots of freshly ground black pepper. In Lazio, chef Antonio Ciminelli serves an elegant version with short pasta on the menu, and a rustic one with spaghetti for staff.
Grilled Salmon with Preserved Lemon and Green Olives
Green olives add more heart-healthy fat and a hit of cell-protecting vitamin E to this crisp grilled salmon dish.
Sizzling Shrimp Scampi
Scampi refers to shrimp that are split, brushed with garlicky butter and broiled. The recipe here calls for flavoring butter with lemon, garlic, parsley and thyme, then dotting it liberally on shrimp and roasting the shellfish until it sizzles.