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20 Italian Food Recipes You’ll Never Get Tired of Eating

It’s hard to find meals that satisfy better than Italian recipes. Whether you like gooey, savory, spicy, or sweet Italian food delivers, and these recipes are the proof.

 

Show me an American who doesn’t love at least one Italian dish, and I’ll eat my hat.

Actually, scratch that. I’ll eat one of these 20 succulent Italian food recipes instead ! 🙂

What makes these recipes so great?

Well, many people’s idea of an Italian night is to pull out the pasta and a jar of marinara. And oh are they missing out!

As you’ll see, these recipes go far beyond the bland with interesting ingredients, whole grains, and plenty of protein.

So, whether you’re in the mood for Italian meatballs, a healthier take on alfredo sauce, creamy panna cotta, or quick-cooking lasagna, these recipes have got you covered.

Enjoy!

Fresh Tomato & Ricotta Whole-Wheat Pasta

Serves 4

When tomatoes are in season, ditch the jar of pasta sauce. Perfectly ripe tomatoes don’t even need to be cooked down into a marinara – in fact, that’s a waste of a great heirloom.

For this recipe, pick small-to-medium tomatoes that are bigger than grapes but smaller than a baseball. The fresh tomatoes are quickly sautéed in garlicky olive oil, and then cooked pasta gets added to the pan.

Stir in spinach to wilt, put dollops of fresh ricotta on top, and drizzle with olive oil before serving.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

498

Calories

21 g

Protein

47 g

Carbs

26 g

Fat

Ingredients

8 oz. whole-wheat short pasta (such as farfalle)

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

8 cocktail-size tomatoes, quartered

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

2 cups fresh spinach leaves

1/3 cup fresh basil, slivered

1/2 cup (about 2 oz.) grated Parmesan

1 cup fresh ricotta

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Creamy Lemon Pasta with Spinach & Grilled Chicken

Serves 6

Craving creamy alfredo? There are other ways to satisfy your stomach’s demands, like this low-fat pasta dinner. It still has Parmesan for the flavor you’re after, but the pasta sauce is made from ricotta instead of heavy cream.

That means this lightened up chicken alfredo is packed with protein, yet it has less than 20 grams of fat per serving.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

506

Calories

44 g

Protein

46 g

Carbs

16 g

Fat

Ingredients

1 lb. grilled chicken breasts, sliced into strips

1 lb. dry linguine, fettucine or spaghetti

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 cup reserved pasta water

6 oz. fresh baby spinach, steamed just until beginning to wilt

2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1 1/2 tsp. lemon zest

2 Tbsp. lemon juice

1 1/2 cups part-skim ricotta

1/2 cup finely shredded Parmesan (plus more for serving)

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Mini Caprese Skewers with Balsamic Reduction

Serves 2

These veggie skewers are so easy to put together – you’ll find any reason to serve them.

They’re a beautiful appetizer for a dinner party or backyard cookout. But you can also enjoy caprese salad anytime when you enjoy these skewers as a snack or light lunch.

The assembly is most of the work. Cut the tomatoes and basil in half, and put everything on a toothpick. But the only real cooking involved is the balsamic reduction, which simmers over low heat for about ten minutes until it thickens like a syrup.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

217

Calories

11 g

Protein

8 g

Carbs

14 g

Fat

Ingredients

1 cup balsamic vinegar

2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved

4 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese balls

1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, cut in half

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Toothpicks

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Skinny Bruschetta Chicken

Serves 4

Baking chicken breast is extremely easy, but what’s delicious and healthy can become a boring dinner when you have it too many nights in a row.

With this recipe, baked chicken isn’t spiced up with a seasoning blend or stuffed with cheese. Just a simple topping of fresh tomatoes, basil, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil – inspired by basic bruschetta – will liven up your weeknight meal.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

301

Calories

42 g

Protein

5 g

Carbs

12 g

Fat

Ingredients

4 chicken breasts (about 5 oz. each)

4 small tomatoes, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 small red onion, chopped

1 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1 tsp. balsamic vinegar

1/8 tsp. sea salt

Handful of fresh basil, chopped

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Homemade Frozen Pizza

Serves 4

Frozen pizza can seem like a fair compromise when you’re craving takeout. Depending on the brand and toppings, the macros aren’t half bad. But you can do one better by planning in advance.

When assembling a pizza at home using the dough, sauce, and toppings of your choice, it doesn’t have to go in the oven right away. Pre-bake the crust before you build it up, and your homemade pizza can be frozen for up to three months.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

438

Calories

28 g

Protein

53 g

Carbs

15 g

Fat

Ingredients

1 lb. whole-wheat pizza dough (store-bought or homemade)

1/2 cup tomato sauce

1 cup spicy Italian chicken sausage, cooked (or other meat)

1 cup diced bell peppers (or other veggies)

1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella (more or less to taste)

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Chunky Italian Beef Stew

Serves 4

This recipe has beef, potatoes, carrots, and peas, so it’s the seasonings that make it into a delicious Italian stew. Of course you’ll need garlic – more or less, depending on your tastes.

The beef simmers in a mix of tomato sauce, garlic, basil, and oregano. To use fresh herbs instead, substitute a tablespoon of leaves for a teaspoon dried.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

359

Calories

30 g

Protein

34 g

Carbs

13 g

Fat

Ingredients

1 lb. stewing beef, cut into 1” cubes

3/4 cup tomato puree

2 1/2 cups water

1 bouillon cube (optional)

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. dried basil

1 tsp. dried oregano

1 bay leaf

2 cloves garlic, sliced

2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1 1/2 cups frozen peas

2 potatoes, chopped

2 large carrots, chopped

Red pepper flakes to taste (optional)

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Grilled Rosemary Chicken with Farro Risotto

Serves 4

It might seem inauthentic to make risotto with anything but Arborio rice. Farro, however, is another grain that’s been a staple in Italy for far longer than rice, which only arrived by trade in the Middle Ages.

So if you’re going to use anything else in your risotto, farro will keep the dish in line with real Italian cooking. Not only that, but it’s high in fiber and has greater nutrient density than white rice.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

535

Calories

55 g

Protein

47 g

Carbs

15 g

Fat

Ingredients

3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided

1 Tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary

5 cloves garlic, minced

3 boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 6 oz. each)

1 1/2 cups boiling water

1 oz. dried porcini mushrooms

2 3/4 cups unsalted chicken stock

1 1/2 cups finely chopped onion

1 Tbsp. chopped fresh thyme

1 cup uncooked pearled farro

1/2 cup dry white wine

1/2 tsp. salt, divided

3 cups Lacinato kale, stemmed and sliced

1/4 cup (about 1 oz.) grated Parmesan

1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, divided

Cooking spray

2 Tbsp. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

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Italian Pasta Salad with Homemade Dressing

Serves 8

When it’s warm out and you’re craving pasta, hot marinara and melted cheese is probably not the way you want to go. Whip up this refreshing salad with cherry tomatoes and homemade Italian dressing instead.

It doesn’t take much skill in the kitchen, and like any pasta salad, it’s adaptable enough to add or take out ingredients to your liking.

Prefer less fat? Go light on the dressing, and serve the rest on the side. Need more protein? Chop up some pancetta, or add turkey pepperoni.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

620

Calories

17 g

Protein

67 g

Carbs

32 g

Fat

Ingredients

Salad:

2 lb. pasta

2 cups cherry tomatoes

1 red bell pepper, roasted and diced

1 small yellow bell pepper, roasted and diced

1/4 red onion, minced

1 cup (about 4 oz.) Asiago cheese, finely shredded

1 cup fresh basil, cut into thin strips

1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Sea salt to taste

Basic Italian Dressing:

1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp. white wine vinegar

2–4 cloves garlic

2 tsp. Italian seasoning

1 1/2 tsp. sea salt

1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

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15-Minute Lasagna

Serves 4

Normally when you’re cooking lasagna, it takes a long time minutes just to layer the noodles, sauce, and cheese in the pan. But even if you can get it out of the pan in neat slices, it’s going to come apart once you dig in.

So you may as well just forget about the squares of lasagna and make the whole thing in a skillet. The result has all the same flavor, and the noodles are still in thin sheets so it can’t be mistaken for a different pasta dish.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

613

Calories

48 g

Protein

46 g

Carbs

27 g

Fat

Ingredients

1/2 lb. lean ground beef

2 cups diced onion

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 lb. pork breakfast sausage, cooked

8 oz. (about 10) lasagna noodles, broken into quarters

1 can (10 oz.) diced tomatoes

1 cup tomato sauce

2 cups water

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1 cup (about 4 oz.) shredded mozzarella cheese

4 oz. fresh mozzarella pearls

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Healthy Italian Sausage Soup

Serves 10

One trick to making a robust soup that’s lean is to use turkey sausage for most of the protein, yet add a couple slices of bacon for flavor. Since this recipe makes ten bowls of Italian soup, that’s hardly any bacon per person – as if there were crumbles added as a garnish.

Except in this recipe, the bacon gets a chance to enhance the whole thing because it’s stirred in with sausage, kale, and beans 15 minutes before serving.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

140

Calories

8 g

Protein

23 g

Carbs

2 g

Fat

Ingredients

2 slices bacon

1/2 lb. lean Italian turkey sausage, casings removed

2 large russet potatoes, cut into 1/2” cubes

1 large onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 tsp. Italian seasoning

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

4 cups water

3 1/2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth

4 cups chopped fresh kale (or Swiss chards)

1 can (15 oz.) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

1 cup fat-free half-and-half

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Homemade Makeover Italian Cream Cake

Serves 16

Although this dessert likely has American origins, an Italian cream cake is hard to pass up no matter where it’s being served.

And when you make it yourself, it’s possible to make a lighter version by substituting ingredients, like using applesauce in place of half the butter.

Yet this cake is more flavorful than one smothered in buttercream thanks to cream cheese frosting, toasted coconut, and walnuts.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

297

Calories

4 g

Protein

38 g

Carbs

15 g

Fat

Ingredients

Cake:

1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened

1 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 tsp. baking soda

1/8 tsp. salt

2/3 cup buttermilk

1/3 cup chopped pecans, toasted

1/4 cup flaked coconut, toasted

Cream Cheese Frosting:

1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened

2 Tbsp. butter, softened

2 cups powdered sugar

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1/3 cup chopped pecans, toasted

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Eggplant Parmesan

Serves 6

There are countless ways to cook eggplant, but according to some eaters, this is the only one that counts.

This classic eggplant parm is easy to make with thick slices of the veggie topped with thick slices of fresh mozzarella cheese. Although the recipe includes a quick tomato sauce, you can use pre-made marinara to save time.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

414

Calories

30 g

Protein

35 g

Carbs

19 g

Fat

Ingredients

Marinara:

1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil (more if necessary)

1 Spanish onion, diced

4 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced

3 Tbsp. chopped fresh thyme

1/2 medium carrot, finely grated

2 cans (28 oz. each) peeled whole tomatoes, crushed by hand, juices reserved

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Eggplant Parmesan:

3 large eggplant

1 bunch fresh basil leaves, sliced

1 lb. fresh mozzarella, sliced 1/8” thick

1/2 cup (about 2 oz.) grated Parmesan

1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs, lightly toasted

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Lamb Chops with Mint Gremolata

Serves 4

To make tender Italian lamb chops, start by marinating them in olive oil, fresh herbs, and garlic. A couple hours later, remove the chops, brush off the excess oil, and broil them for a few minutes per side.

While the lamb cooks and rests to juicy perfection, throw together an Italian topping that makes almost any dish more amazing.

Gremolata is commonly made with parsley, garlic, and olive oil, but other herbs can easily be substituted. In this recipe, for example, fresh mint makes a great Mediterranean pairing with the lamb chops.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

275

Calories

24 g

Protein

2 g

Carbs

19 g

Fat

Ingredients

Lamb:

4 rib lamb chops, frenched

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

4 sprigs torn mint

2 cloves garlic

1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Gremolata:

1 clove garlic

1/4 tsp. lemon zest

1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 cup mint leaves, loosely packed

2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil

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Chamomile Yogurt Panna Cotta

Serves 6

Italians are known for rich desserts like cheesecake and tiramisu. However, you can end your hearty Italian dinner on a light note with this chamomile panna cotta. It’s so smooth and delicious, you’ll hardly believe this is a low-fat recipe using yogurt instead of heavy cream.

The chamomile adds an extra Italian touch. A traditional herbal tea brewed from flowers, it lends a soothing flavor as well as antioxidant properties.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

130

Calories

8 g

Protein

20 g

Carbs

2 g

Fat

Ingredients

1 1/4 cups low-fat milk, divided

2 chamomile tea bags

1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped

1/4 tsp. coarse salt

1 Tbsp. unflavored powdered gelatin

1/4 cup honey (plus more for drizzling)

2 cups plain fat-free yogurt

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Crock Pot Italian Zucchini Meatloaf

Serves 10

The bulk of this meatloaf is lean ground beef, which is how there can be 25 grams of protein in a 200-calorie serving. Macros don’t reveal anything about the taste, though, because it’s not the bland meatloaf you may have grown up with.

This version is full-flavored with balsamic vinegar and Parmesan, plus mozzarella cheese melted on top. And if you have it on hand, use a homemade marinara instead of ketchup for an extra-special Italian meatloaf.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

174

Calories

24 g

Protein

4 g

Carbs

7 g

Fat

Ingredients

Meatloaf:

2 lbs. extra-lean ground beef

2 large eggs

1 cup shredded zucchini, liquid squeezed out

1/2 cup (about 2 oz.) grated Parmesan

1/2 cup finely chopped fresh Italian parsley

4 cloves garlic, crushed

3 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

1 Tbsp. dry oregano

2 Tbsp. minced dry onion (or onion powder)

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Cooking spray

Topping;

1/4 cup low-sodium ketchup

1/4 cup (about 2 oz.) shredded part-skim mozzarella

2 Tbsp. chopped fresh Italian parsley

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Pasta with Garlicky Broccoli Rabe

Serves 6

Not all pasta dinners require making a sauce. Instead of worrying about marinara, focus on preparing some delicious garlicky greens.

This recipe starts by boiling a pot of water, but it’s not just for the pasta. Five minutes before it’s done, add the broccoli rabe. Mix together a quick sauce of olive oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes as everything cooks.

And of course, any Italian entrée is better with freshly grated cheese on top.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

399

Calories

12 g

Protein

45 g

Carbs

20 g

Fat

Ingredients

1 lb. dry pasta

1 lb. broccoli rabe, stems removed, chopped into 1” pieces

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

5 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes (or more to taste)

1 tsp. salt (or more to taste)

1/4 cup grated Parmesan

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Crispy Prosciutto-Wrapped Cauliflower

Serves 8

This recipe might not be traditionally Italian, but wrapping things in prosciutto is.

And you’ll want to try it because it’s like the fancy version of wrapping food in crispy bacon; yet it’s even easier to do at home to make an appetizer or afternoon snack.

Prosciutto is a kind of cured ham that’s shaved extremely thin, making it possible to wrap around even odd-shaped veggies like cauliflower.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

159

Calories

9 g

Protein

6 g

Carbs

8 g

Fat

Ingredients

1 small head cauliflower

1/2 cup tomato paste

2 Tbsp. white wine

1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup (about 2 oz.) grated Parmesan

20 slices (about 7 oz.) prosciutto

6 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

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Tomato “Bruschetta” with Tuna & Cannellini Salad

Serves 4

It’s hard to say no to bread when you’re watching carbs, even if it’s just for a couple weeks to lean out. Look on the bright side, though, and you can try awesome alternatives like this that might actually make it into your regular meal rotation.

For a bread-free bruschetta, the tomatoes aren’t the topping but become the platform to serve white beans and tuna.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

326

Calories

25 g

Protein

16 g

Carbs

19 g

Fat

Ingredients

5 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

Zest of 1 lemon

3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

3/4 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

3 Tbsp. chopped chives

1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley (plus more for garnish)

1 can (15 oz.) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

2 cans (5 oz. each) tuna, drained and broken into chunks

3 green onions, thinly sliced

8 thick slices large heirloom tomatoes

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Slow Cooker Italian Meatballs

Serves 8

Not all meatballs have to be eaten as a topping for spaghetti or a filling for subs. These are easy to make in a Crock Pot, yet good enough to wolf down without any extras.

These low-fat meatballs make a delicious appetizer, or you can eat a few with Parmesan or mozzarella cheese on top for a high-protein lunch. And, of course, they’re awesome with a bowl of any kind of pasta, and leftovers can make a mean sandwich.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

244

Calories

25 g

Protein

16 g

Carbs

9 g

Fat

Ingredients

1 large egg

1 egg white

1 tsp. salt

1/3 cup seasoned bread crumbs

1 small onion, minced

1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced

6 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup (about 2 oz.) grated Parmesan

1 lb. 95% lean ground beef

1/2 lb. lean ground turkey sausage

1/2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1 can (28 oz.) crushed tomatoes

1 can (14 oz.) diced tomatoes with Italian seasoning

1 tsp. red pepper flakes

2 tsp. Italian seasoning

1 cup low-sodium chicken broth

1 bay leaf

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Hazelnut Protein Cookies

Serves 5

These low-carb Italian cookies are loaded with protein thanks to a combo of casein and whey powder. Aside from that, you only need egg whites, hazelnuts, and a couple squares of chocolate to make this cookie batter.

The result is an awesome sweet snack that has more protein than sugar. And since this recipe only makes a few cookies, you won’t be tempted to overindulge for days.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

144

Calories

8 g

Protein

6 g

Carbs

10 g

Fat

Ingredients

1/2 cup hazelnuts

2 egg whites

2 Tbsp. WHEY+ vanilla protein isolate

1 Tbsp. vanilla casein protein powder

2 squares dark chocolate

Few drops of hazelnut flavoring or Frangelico (optional)

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OVER 100,000 PEOPLE HAVE USED MY COOKBOOK TO GET THE BODY THEY WANT EATING THE FOODS THEY LOVE. WILL YOU BE NEXT?

What if I told you that just about everything magazines and trainers “teach” you about dieting is wrong?

What if you could build muscle and lose fat eating “naughty” foods every week?

What if you didn’t have to suffer through low-carb dieting to get lean? In fact, what if you could eat all the carbs you wanted?

And what if you didn’t have to gorge yourself just to gain muscle and didn’t have to put on pounds and pounds of ugly fat, either?

In short, what if I told you that proper dieting--whether you want to maximize fat loss or muscle growth--is much simpler and more enjoyable than you’ve been led to believe?

Imagine eating delicious, filling meals every day...never feeling starved or stuffed...having great energy levels and workouts...and watching your body respond exactly as you desire, dropping fat or adding muscle each and every week.

And imagine finally understanding how proper dieting really works, never again falling for the BS, tricks, and gimmicks pushed by “gurus” and other shysters.

Well, I have good news.

All these “fantasies” can be a reality...if you know how to do a handful of “little” things correctly.

You see, when you know how to diet properly--and this doesn’t mean learning to eat boiled chicken and raw broccoli six times per day--getting lean and muscular becomes simple, convenient, and dare I say...enjoyable.

And this book will show you the way.

I'm Mike and I'm the creator of Muscle for Life and Legion Athletics, and I believe that EVERYONE can achieve the body of their dreams.

If you like my articles, then you'll love my bestselling books. They'll show you exactly what you need to do to build muscle and lose fat without hating your diet or living in the gym.

If you're a guy, check out Bigger Leaner Stronger, and if you're a girl, Thinner Leaner Stronger is for you.

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