Serious Eats / Maureen Celestine

Italian food can be one of the easiest cuisines to work from, so long as you have the right recipes. Maybe you’re getting home late at night and are starving, or you have a table of hungry people and haven’t been to the store in the week—rest assured, there’s something in this collection of easy Italian recipes for you. Whether you have summer-ripened perfect tomatoes, or just a tube of tomato paste, we’ve got you covered.

Salads and Starters

Caprese Salad

Serious Eats / Julia Estrada

The only trick here is to use high-quality, in-season ingredients…and not add balsamic. Get the best tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil you can find, put ’em on a plate, sprinkle them with salt and pepper, drizzle them with the best olive oil, and stop right there.

Fresh Summer Tomato Bruschetta

Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

These classic, garlic-rubbed toasts are perfect for savoring peak tomato season. Using ripe, perfect tomatoes and a combination of different varieties add lots of color and a better balance of tomato flavor.

Soups and Sauces

Pasta e Fagioli (Italian Bean and Pasta Soup)

Serious Eats / Fred Hardy

This minimalist version of the classic starts with dried beans for a creamy finish. Get nice beans that haven’t been sitting on a shelf for years and cook them properly, and you’ll unlock the beauty of what a bean can really be.

Tuscan Pappa al Pomodoro (Tomato and Bread Soup)

Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

This Tuscan bread-and-tomato soup is one of the best ways to enjoy tomatoes in the winter.

Quick and Easy Italian-American Red Sauce

Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

Simmered with plenty of garlic, dried oregano, red pepper flakes, and basil, this Italian-American tomato sauce can be made quickly without missing out on that long-cooked flavor.


Spaghetti Aglio e Olio (Pasta in Garlic and Oil Sauce)

Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

Most classic pasta sauce recipes begin with gently cooking garlic in oil, but this is the original, and it makes one of the greatest—and easiest—pasta sauces all on its own.

Penne alla Vodka

Serious Eats / Daniel Gritzer

This vodka sauce is a powerhouse of tomato flavor smoothed over with the silky richness of heavy cream. Use both an entire tube (or can) or tomato paste, plus a small can of whole peeled tomatoes. Combined, they yield a sauce that’s nuanced and layered, with richness, depth, and brightness.

Pasta al Limone

Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

Bright and fragrant citrus finds its way into this comforting bowl of spaghetti. Using starchy pasta water instead of cream lets the bright lemon flavor shine through.

Cacio e Pepe (Spaghetti With Black Pepper and Pecorino Romano)

Serious Eats / Julia Estrada

The Roman pasta dish cacio e pepe is as easy to make as it is delicious. A few simple techniques take it from basic to perfect.

Spaghetti Puttanesca (Spaghetti With Capers, Olives, and Anchovies)

Serious Eats / Melissa Hom

This pasta packs an aromatic punch, thanks to garlic, anchovies, capers, and olives.

Penne With Hot-as-You-Dare Arrabbiata Sauce

Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

This simple pasta dish is made with a sauce that’s spicy enough to earn its “angry” moniker.

Bucatini all’Amatriciana

Serious Eats / Maureen Celestine

Amatriciana is a pasta sauce made with tomato, guanciale, black pepper and/or red pepper flakes, Pecorino Romano, and white wine—though there’s lots of argument about what should and shouldn’t go into it.

Stracciatella alla Romana (Italian Egg Drop Soup)

Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

Chicken soup Italian-style, featuring a rich broth filled with a deeply flavorful mixture of beaten eggs and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

Pasta alla Gricia

Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

Gricia is a beautiful dish of dry pasta that’s cooked and dressed in a sauce made with rendered guanciale, black pepper, pasta cooking water, and grated Pecorino Romano cheese.

Sicilian-Style Spaghetti Alla Carrettiera (Fresh Tomato and Garlic Sauce)

Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

Fresh tomatoes, basil, and a few other pantry staples are all you need to whip up a wonderfully fresh Sicilian pasta sauce.

Classic Italian-American Stuffed Shells With Ricotta and Spinach

Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

These pasta shells are plumped with a seasoned ricotta cheese spinach filling and baked with tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese.

Shrimp Fra Diavolo (Shrimp and Pasta with Spicy Tomato Sauce)

Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

A simple technique and a pantry ingredient imbues this spicy Italian-American classic with rich shellfish flavor.

Chicken and Fish

Chicken Marsala

Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

Quick and easy, this chicken Marsala is packed with flavor, thanks to Marsala wine, sautéed mushrooms, shallots, and garlic.

Sicilian-Style Baked Cod Recipe

Serious Eats

Here, baked fish fillets are cooked with some well-seasoned breadcrumbs and some good olive oil, paired with sweet red onion, plenty of fresh mint and basil, a sour note from a shot of vinegar, and a squirt of anchovy paste to add the salty intensity of the sea. Olives bring a final touch of richness to the plate.

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