52 Best Italian Recipes

For a country the size of Arizona, Italy has a truly amazing variety of regional cuisines and dishes, along with universally beloved foods like pizza, risotto, pesto, and gelato. However, many of our favorite "Italian," dishes, like baked ziti and chicken piccata, are actually Italian-American in origin. But they are still Italian in tradition and spirit and certainly deserve to be placed alongside authentic dishes.

You'll find plenty of pasta here of course, but also slow-braised meats, soups, salads, and seafood. No matter the dish, or where it comes from, Italian food always rests on a foundation of the best ingredients. So whatever you choose to cook, do it with quality olive oil, good canned tomatoes, and the kind of fresh meat and vegetables that only need salt to taste great. Beyond that, your Italian dinner is up to you, and you'll certainly have your hands full picking a recipe to try first.

1. Special Italian Meatballs

Italian meatballs are a foundational recipe, the kind of thing you keep coming back to for pasta, side dishes, and sandwiches, and this is the full expression of what they can be. A mix of beef and pork or veal provides the right balance of fat and flavor, seasoned with garlic, parsley, onion, and of course, some Parmesan. 

The sauce is no afterthought either, with depth from Chianti, and some extra meatiness and salt from pancetta. Tender and bursting with flavor, they are an essential Italian dish.

Recipe: Special Italian Meatballs

2. Spaghetti Alla Gricia

A relative of cacio e pepe and carbonara, spaghetti alla gricia is your ideal weeknight pasta dish. Incredibly easy, it relies mainly on Pecorino Romano and guanciale for flavor, with just a bit of white wine. After the pasta is cooked, it's finished in the pan with olive oil, the crispy meat, and cheese, forming a smooth, rich sauce. 

Just remember to save that pasta water to mix into the sauce, as it's necessary to thicken it and give it a glossy finish.

Recipe: Spaghetti Alla Gricia

3. Chopped Caprese Salad

Caprese is basically Italy in a bowl, due to its color, rustic simplicity, and reliance on a few ingredients that need to be top quality for the dish to work best. This chopped version is much more of a salad than the standard presentation of slices on a plate, which makes for easier eating. 

A full cup of chopped basil brings plenty of freshness, and only a few tablespoons of balsamic vinegar are needed to complement the olive oil, salt, and black pepper.

Recipe: Chopped Caprese Salad

4. Spaghetti Aglio E Olio And Calabrian Breadcrumbs

This is a spicy variation of another simple Italian classic. Normally garlic, salt, pepper, and oil are all aglio e olio needs, but a little bit of extra texture and heat never hurt anybody. 

The pasta is prepared the same way as the classic recipe but then topped with a mixture of jarred Calabrian chiles and breadcrumbs that have been toasted in a pan for more flavor and crunch. It's just a little something extra, but for a very simple dish, it adds a whole new dimension.

Recipe: Spaghetti Aglio E Olio And Calabrian Breadcrumbs

5. Classic Bruschetta

Bruschetta is an appealing idea that often falls short on execution. The biggest culprit is usually bland, mushy tomatoes, but this recipe rectifies that by using cherry tomatoes, which often have more flavor and a better texture. 

A nice, crusty baguette gets sliced, brushed with olive oil, and rubbed with garlic as a base, then you just mix the chopped tomatoes with a bit more oil, balsamic, salt, and pepper. It's the perfect fresh summer treat and a great use for flavorful tomatoes.

Recipe: Classic Bruschetta

6. Roasted Vegetable Pasta Primavera

Pasta primavera is a fun way to get a big serving of veggies in with your pasta. Usually centered around a medley of spring vegetables (primavera means spring), this version mixes it up with the addition of mushrooms and peppers. The vegetables get roasted separately to brown them and bring out their flavor. 

While the veggies are roasting, you can cook the pasta and make the light, creamy Parmesan sauce, so the dish comes together quickly. Then, all that's left to do is toss everything together for a filling and nutritious meal.

Recipe: Roasted Vegetable Pasta Primavera

7. Baked Stuffed Shells

These stuffed shells bring you all the flavors and comfort of lasagna with almost none of the effort. The filling upgrades the standard stuffed shells mixture of ricotta and spinach with sausage, making the whole meal more satisfying. The cheesy filling is sauteed in a pan for less than 10 minutes, then it's spooned into cooked shells over a bed of sauce. 

Finishing everything in the oven browns the tops, crisps the edges of the pasta, and cooks everything into a perfect single-item dinner.

Recipe: Baked Stuffed Shells

8. Homemade Struffoli

Struffoli are bite-sized balls of fried dough, like the smaller relative of Italian zeppole, which makes them a great dessert for a crowd. The dough is a rich mixture of butter, sugar, and eggs, which gets flavored with vanilla and the killer ingredient: a few tablespoons of citrusy, lightly bitter orange liqueur. 

After they are shaped into small berry-sized balls and fried, the struffoli are coated with a mixture of honey, sugar, orange liqueur, and lemon juice. Piled high in a round and topped with powdered sugar, they make a festive treat for any special occasion.

Recipe: Homemade Struffoli

9. Creamy Chicken Marsala

A classic of Italian-American pasta joints and pizza parlors, chicken marsala is also easy to make at home. Pan-fried chicken cutlets are covered in a silky, lightly sweet sauce, balanced out by earthy mushrooms. 

Fortified Marsala wine is the key ingredient that gives the dish its name and the sauce its depth, and it's used to deglaze the pan after cooking the chicken and mushrooms. Our variation includes cream at the end, which gives the whole dish an extra rich flavor and texture that elevates it above your standard Marsala.

Recipe: Creamy Chicken Marsala

10. Crab Ravioli

Crab can be a pricy meal even when it comes out of a can, but this ravioli is a great way to get a dish full of seafood flavor without breaking the bank. Mixing and shaping homemade ravioli requires no special equipment, and lets you stuff it with a filling of crab meat and ricotta that's briny and slightly sweet. 

The ravioli is so tasty on its own that it doesn't need anything except butter to top it off, lending everything a luscious flavor without drowning out the star of the show.

Recipe: Crab Ravioli

11. Homemade Pepperoni Stromboli

Our pepperoni stromboli takes the best of pizza and rolls it up into a sliceable loaf, ready to be shared as an appetizer or split in half for dinner. The filling mixes pepperoni and salami with mozzarella cheese and sauce, which blend together into a melty package of Italian goodness. 

Sealing the seam after you roll and cutting air vents on the top is essential, as stromboli has a tendency to burst open if it's not made properly. Serve it with a side of extra sauce for dipping.

Recipe: Homemade Pepperoni Stromboli

12. Lemon Spaghetti

Pasta is often a heavy meal, but you can have your carbs and no follow-up nap with this lemon spaghetti recipe. Lemon zest and juice mix with olive oil for a simple, bright dressing that will coat your spaghetti in summer flavor. Some added Parmesan brings a little salt and extra umami flavor, while basil is mixed into the sauce and sprinkled over top for a pop of green and some welcome herbal notes. 

It's a lively variation on your standard pasta that is also one of the easiest things you'll make all week.

Recipe: Lemon Spaghetti

13. Hearty Minestrone Soup

Minestrone is a staple soup for good reason, with a perfect mixture of fresh and filling ingredients that manages to be both nutritious and soothing at the same time. This version has pasta, beans, and potatoes to make it a full meal, while the carrots, celery, garlic, and onion add vegetal depth and light sweetness. 

What makes this minestrone extra special is the tomato broth, which is flavored with a unique mixture of herbs and pesto. There are few better ways to turn a garden's bounty into dinner.

Recipe: Hearty Minestrone Soup

14. Upscale Chicken Piccata

This is not your standard chicken piccata, this dish pulls out all the stops. The chicken cutlet is first pan-fried, adding crunch and browned breadcrumb flavor. The sauce is a delicate, yet deeply flavored mixture of wine, chicken stock, capers, garlic, and shallots. 

A generous helping of butter thickens the sauce and emulsifies it into something smooth, creamy, and gourmet. This is chicken piccata to impress, even if the only person you're impressing is yourself.

Recipe: Upscale Chicken Piccata

15. Crispy And Saucy Chicken Parmesan

We don't want to go too far and suggest that chicken Parmesan is the perfect food, so just try this kicked-up version and decide for yourself. There is flavor coming from everywhere, with Parmesan, garlic powder, and oregano in the breading, and additional herbs in the sauce. 

The surprise ingredient that helps keep everything crispy while adding some flavor of its own is pine nuts, and fresh mozzarella will melt into a far more sumptuous topping than the dried, shredded stuff ever could.

Recipe: Crispy And Saucy Chicken Parmesan

16. Italian Biscotti

You don't need to hunt for an Italian bakery for good biscotti when you have an old-school recipe like this one on hand. Your biscotti will get their unique, hardened texture from being baked twice, once as a whole log, and then sliced and baked again. 

This recipe is only lightly sweet, but packed with a variety of tastes, including vanilla and almond extract, orange juice and zest, and cinnamon. Studded with chocolate chips and almonds, they are made for being dunked, not just in coffee, but wine or tea too.

Recipe: Italian Biscotti

17. Quick Linguine And Clams

Linguine and clams are a salute to the power of shellfish, where the flavor of the clams carries the whole dish. This sauce is pretty darn good on its own, layered with garlic, red chile flakes, shallot, lemon, and white wine, but it's all in service to the main ingredient. 

Tossing the pasta with cooked clams before the last few minutes of cooking means all the seafood notes from the clam juice will infuse the sauce as it thickens, coating the linguine in a briny, slightly fishy flavor.

Recipe: Quick Linguine And Clams

18. Creamy Tomato Tortellini Soup

This is some real grown up tomato soup, swimming with pasta and fit for a full meal. You'll use three different types of tomato to get the best of every kind. Puree gives you the silky, creamy base, chopped tomatoes give you texture, and tomato paste brings some sweetness and depth. 

Tortellini is the ideal, filling pasta to turn this into a main course, and some spinach tossed in at the end adds vegetal balance. It's so satisfying you won't even miss the grilled cheese.

Recipe: Creamy Tomato Tortellini Soup

19. Parmesan Risotto

The time-consuming nature of cooking risotto has been greatly overrated. Yes, this Parmesan version will take a little patience while stirring, but you can still have it on your plate in under an hour. The parm in this dish doesn't just come in the form of a heaping cup mixed in at the end, although you do get that, it also comes from the rind that's simmered with the stock before cooking the rice. 

Parmesan's salty complexity permeates every inch of the saucy rice, for a luxurious, creamy dinner.

Recipe: Parmesan Risotto

20. Baked Eggplant Parmesan

Eggplant isn't just a meaty substitute for chicken here, it brings its own earthy bitterness and tender texture. Fried in breadcrumbs and roasted in the oven, the meat of eggplant will become soft and creamy, with just enough crunch from the coating to add some texture. 

A simple homemade tomato sauce and mozzarella coalesce with the eggplant to form an almost silky bite that will melt in your mouth, and leave you wondering why you make parm any other way.

Recipe: Baked Eggplant Parmesan

21. Simple Spaghetti Carbonara

You can get a lot out of a few ingredients if you know how to use them, and our spaghetti carbonara recipe is proof of that. Pancetta, cheese, eggs, and garlic are all that it takes to turn out one of the most beloved sauces in Italian cooking. 

The secret, like in many pasta dishes, is the starchy pasta water, which brings together the pancetta fat and egg mixture into a unified blend that's impossibly smooth and rich. This is an opulent meal using humble ingredients, basically the definition of Italian cooking.

Recipe: Simple Spaghetti Carbonara

22. White Lasagna With Sausage And Ricotta

Tomato sauce with lasagna may seem essential, but sometimes you have to step back and let the cheese hog the spotlight. In this recipe, a traditional béchamel is mixed with ricotta for a more pillowy and milky filling. 

A host of complementary mix-ins like caramelized onions, red pepper flakes, and spinach add depth and complexity to the mixture, while crumbled sausage lends some heft and salt. The béchamel mixture will get nice and bubbly and browned in the oven for an enticing finish.

Recipe: White Lasagna With Sausage And Ricotta

23. Italian Meatball Sandwich

No frills here is no problem, because what more do you want from a meatball sandwich? The meatballs are center stage, with Parmesan, garlic powder, and Italian seasoning to give them the kick they need and you deserve. 

The sauce is a basic mixture that needs only twenty minutes to simmer as the meatballs cook in the oven. It will all come together at the same time and then all that's left to do is cover the sandwiches with mozzarella and push them under the broiler until the cheese is browned and melty.

Recipe: Italian Meatball Sandwich

24. Classic Pasta E Fagioli

Pasta e fagioli is Italian eating in its purest form. This recipe is easy and hearty, as it should be, with only a mixture of carrots, celery, onion, and a bit of pancetta to complement its base of beans and pasta. That doesn't mean it's not flavorful though. 

The broth is boosted by fresh herbs, tomato paste, and a Pecorino Romano rind, so even if the appearance is simple, the taste is not. This pasta e fagioli also really benefits from extended cooking, which lets the aromatics fully permeate the broth.

Recipe: Classic Pasta E Fagioli

25. Simple Chicken Française

Chicken française keeps the lemons but ditches the briny tang of capers in piccata for buttery comfort. The stand out in française is the coating of the chicken, an eggy batter that browns up nicely while staying soft and tender. Lemon is mixed with white wine, and balanced out by chicken stock and butter, producing a silky, smoother-tasting sauce that takes on a great sheen after being simmered with the battered cutlets. 

The sauce isn't just for the chicken either, as it's wonderful with pasta or poured over roasted vegetables.

Recipe: Simple Chicken Française

26. Egg Yolk- And Ricotta-Filled Ravioli

If you've never had an egg yolk ravioli before, start here. Every aspect of this recipe goes big: the spicy tomato sauce is loaded with pancetta and Calabrian chiles and the ricotta mixture features sage, lemon, parmesan, and basil. 

But of course, you are here because of the egg. A whole yolk is delicately placed into a bed of ricotta inside each raviolo, just waiting to burst open and cover your plate the second you make a cut.

Recipe: Egg Yolk- And Ricotta-Filled Ravioli

27. Spicy Beef Braciole

This beef braciole is a true special occasion dish, a low-and-slow braise of stuffed steak that makes a memorable meal and can feed a family. It features melted provolone cheese and a fatty, salty, garlicky stuffing, both of which are rolled up in sliced flank steak.

Calabrian chili paste and red wine make a robust base for the tomato sauce, which breaks down the meat while absorbing its flavor. The result is a fall-apart tender roll of meat, cheese, and bread, smothered in a complex, spicy sauce. Need we say more?

Recipe: Spicy Beef Braciole

28. Slow Cooker Chicken Ribollita

Slow cooker soups like this chicken ribollita are always a great option for an effortless, rewarding dinner. Like other great Italian soups, this recipe starts with beans and tomato broth, with celery, onion, carrots, and garlic as the aromatic base. 

Shredded chicken and kale fill out the meal, and everything goes in the pot with bay leaves, red chile flakes, and Italian seasoning for four hours on high. With only a little chopping and shredding (and almost no stirring), you can have a Tuscan classic waiting for you any night of the week.

Recipe: Slow Cooker Chicken Ribollita

29. Easy Baked Spaghetti

Is it spaghetti? Is it lasagna? Satisfy your craving for both with this easy baked spaghetti recipe. The spaghetti base is made from an uncomplicated mixture of pasta and tomato sauce with ground beef. Tossing the pasta with an egg, butter, and parm mixture before the sauce helps everything hold together better in the oven. 

The spaghetti mixture then gets layered with a béchamel sauce, Parmesan, and is topped with another layer of béchamel for a double dose of creamy that completes the dish's transformation into squiggly lasagna.

Recipe: Easy Baked Spaghetti

30. Roasted Caprese Sandwich

This recipe smartly recognizes that the way to improve on one of the best salads out there is to just add bread. But there is more than meets the eye going on here, as the tomatoes get a whole new dimension of flavor from being roasted, and fresh mozzarella is swapped out for its more creamy cousin burrata

Topped with balsamic vinegar and basil, it resembles a classic caprese on bread, but it tastes like so much more.

Recipe: Roasted Caprese Sandwich

31. Ricciarelli (Tuscan Almond Cookies)

Toss aside those delicate macarons and get yourself an almond cookie done the Italian way. Eschewing the lightness of the French style, your Italian ricciarelli will come out thick, dense, and chewy, which happens to be a great textural vehicle for the almond flavor. 

The only other thing these cookies need is a little pop of citrus in the form of orange zest for brightness and depth. Rolled into a log and cut into smaller ovals, they feel homespun and upscale at the same time.

Recipe: Ricciarelli

32. Pasta E Ceci

This is a Roman (as in the city not the empire) dish, that takes the simple, limited-ingredient Roman pastas like alla Gricia, and turns those ideas into a soup. The key ingredient this time is chickpeas, which both stay whole and get blended with the broth to produce a soup that's silky and thickened by the aquafaba. 

The chickpea liquid gets infused with herbs before the blending, and everything gets a kick from some acidic tomatoes afterward. Pasta e ceci is part soup, part creamy pasta, and everything good.

Recipe: Pasta E Ceci

33. One-Skillet Chicken Cacciatore

It doesn't get more rustic than cooking up a stew of tomatoes, mushrooms, and wild-caught game in a pot, and that is exactly what you are doing here, minus the game but plus some fatty chicken thighs. 

White wine, or red if you prefer, adds some depth and black olives contribute some nice briny notes that help wake up the savory mixture. Eat it as is, or serve it over rice or pasta.

Recipe: One-Skillet Chicken Cacciatore

34. Easy Zuppa Toscana

This sumptuous and filling soup starts with bacon and sausage, and somehow gets better from there. Shallot and garlic are cooked in rendered bacon fat, and then wine and chicken stock form the beginnings of a deeply flavorful broth. 

Potatoes make a welcome companion for the meats, and kale brings a bit of Tuscan greenery and some helpful vegetal notes. If that wasn't enough for you, it all gets topped off with some cream, transforming an already lush meal into something greater than the sum of its parts.

Recipe: Easy Zuppa Toscana

35. Roasted Balsamic Bruschetta

Bruschetta seems almost too simple to get creative with. If you change almost anything, it wouldn't be bruschetta, but this variation does it right. All the essential components are still here and nothing extraneous is added, but it takes a leap by roasting the tomatoes with garlic. 

What was once bright and acidic is now savory and a little sweet, without losing anything that makes bruschetta great. A drizzle of balsamic vinegar adds extra flavor and complexity while fitting in perfectly. This is what crusty bread was made for.

Recipe: Roasted Balsamic Bruschetta

36. Spicy Penne Arrabiata

Just a few simple additions can transform a basic tomato sauce, and this spicy arrabbiata shows the difference even one ingredient can make. Infusing olive oil with red chile flakes not only turns a fresh tomato sauce into a punchy showstopper, but it also draws extra flavor from the chiles, so you are getting more taste, not just more heat. 

Red onion and garlic further round out the olive oil, before whole peeled tomatoes go in and get quickly cooked down for a chunky sauce that marries bright with earthy warmth.

Recipe: Spicy Penne Arrabiata

37. Roman-Style Fried Cardoons

Cardoons are fibrous plants with an artichoke-like taste that are popular in Italian cooking, and these fried ones are a great introduction. Their raw texture means they need to be boiled for an hour to tenderize, but this is accomplished with a white wine and lemon broth that infuses them with extra flavor. 

After boiling, the cardoons will already be tasty, but a basic breadcrumb coating brings them to the next level. Just think of how good a creamy fried artichoke sounds and you'll understand how this recipe is worth the effort.

Recipe: Roman-Style Fried Cardoons

38. Classic Baked Ziti

Another Italian-American favorite, our ziti is as cheesy and saucy as you expect a cozy baked pasta dish to be. Red wine and crumbled sausage make for a deeply flavored and complex sauce base, with enough moisture to prevent the ziti from getting dry in the oven. 

The mixed pasta and sauce are layered with ricotta, Parmesan, and fresh mozzarella, so it's fatty, creamy, and melty at the same time. A few minutes under the broiler at the end will give you the essential browned top and crispy pasta edges.

Recipe: Classic Baked Ziti

39. Neapolitan Pizza Dough

Like a French baguette, Neapolitan pizza dough is a thing of elegant simplicity. Flour, salt, water, and yeast make an easy dough that gets its flavor and texture from an extended rise and rest period. This version adds a little extra to the dough with garlic granules, Italian seasoning, and sugar, but the result is still everything you want from a Neapolitan pizza. 

Thin and crispy, this dough is made to support lighter, fresh toppings and makes the perfect base for either a margherita pizza or any combination you want to experiment with.

Recipe: Neapolitan Pizza Dough

40. Italian Panettone

This is the quintessential Italian holiday dessert, a cake-bread hybrid with dried fruit that is traditionally made for Christmas. This recipe is all about the technique, as the highly enriched dough has plenty of butter and eggs worked into it until it reaches a smooth consistency that tows the line between batter and bread dough. 

After an overnight rise for extra flavor, you mix in liqueur-soaked fruit and almonds. The biggest trick is at the end: letting it cool upside down stretches out the bread instead of compressing it, leading to panettone's signature spongy texture.

Recipe: Italian Panettone

41. Rustic Italian Wedding Soup

Your standard canned wedding soup can be a surprisingly bland experience, so you should give this version a try to see what it can really be. Parmesan, lemon, and fresh herbs amp up a broth that's normally an afterthought, adding brightness and umami depth. 

And of course, you still get everything that makes wedding soup popular to begin with, bite-sized beef and pork meatballs, pasta, and fresh spinach. It's also quick, with the broth and pasta cooking up in minutes at the same time the meatballs do in the oven.

Recipe: Rustic Italian Wedding Soup

42. Traditional Bucatini all'Amatriciana

All'amatriciana is heavily dependent on one ingredient — guanciale — to make it stand out from other pasta dishes. Guanciale is cured pork cheek that is very fatty, lending the entire sauce a buttery flavor, like bacon without the smoke. 

Calabrian chiles add a bit of heat, and white wine brightens everything up, but the guanciale is the star, as everything else is cooked in copious amounts of the fat rendered from it. If you can't find guanciale, pancetta or bacon will do, but the taste will be affected.

Recipe: Traditional Bucatini all'Amatriciana

43. Small-Batch Tomato Passata

This is a staple ingredient as much as a dish. Passata is a simple, thin tomato puree only flavored with a bit of salt and basil. The key is peeling and seeding the tomatoes before the meat gets crushed and cooked into a smooth, uniform texture. This gives your passata a clean, fresh flavor that can be used as a sauce base, added to soups, or just warmed up with pasta. 

It's a pantry essential for Italian cooking, and easy to make at home when you have an excess of fresh tomatoes.

Recipe: Small-Batch Tomato Passata

44. Homemade Margherita Pizza

The only thing better than a fresh margherita pizza is learning you can make it at home. Invest in some good canned tomatoes here, because the fresh sauce is a big source of flavor. Other than that it's just mozzarella and basil, for that classic tangy, creamy, herbal taste that has stood the test of time. 

Our one secret is a finishing drizzle of herb-infused olive oil, which lends some extra flavor and a nice buttery depth to the whole thing.

Recipe: Homemade Margherita Pizza

45. Classic Basil Pesto Pasta

With the help of a food processor, pesto becomes the ultimate after-work dinner, as everything can be made in about fifteen minutes. Pine nuts, garlic, and basil get chopped fine in the processor, and then olive oil is drizzled in as it runs to emulsion everything so it coheres into a sauce studded with crunchy bits of the pine nuts. 

Grated Parmesan is the last addition, incorporating a big hit of salt and cheese that puts everything over the top and makes this pasta extra satisfying.

Recipe: Classic Basil Pesto Pasta

46. Veggie Antipasti Italian Pasta Salad

Pasta salad is always underrated as a refreshing dining option, and this take on an Italian deli staple makes a full meal out of it. The cooked pasta is dressed in an herby mixture of olive oil, red wine vinegar, and lemon juice that gives the whole dish a light, sharp flavor. 

The meal factor comes from the panoply of veggies and pickled goodies that get mixed in. This recipe features olives, tomatoes, artichokes, hearts of palm, pepperoncini, and onion, with a healthy serving of fresh mozzarella as a final touch.

Recipe: Veggie Antipasti Italian Pasta Salad

47. Italian Easter Pie

Pot pie meets quiche in this rustic Italian holiday dish. A traditional crust envelops a filling featuring eggs, ricotta, Parmesan, and mozzarella. As if that weren't delicious enough, you get a big helping of cubed prosciutto, salami, pepperoni, and ham mixed in, for a flavor combo that's spicy, fatty, salty, and a little sweet at the same time. 

The filling is a cinch, it just needs a little chopping and a quick mix, but you end up with a filling savory pie ready for brunch, lunch, or dinner.

Recipe: Italian Easter Pie

48. Creamy Polenta

Polenta's luscious, creamy texture is worth the hour of stirring it normally takes to do right, but you can also just make this version, which gets great results by moving off the burners and into the oven. An aromatic base of shallots and garlic adds some extra flavor to the broth the cornmeal is cooked in, and then everything goes in the oven for a half hour, with only one stir necessary to keep it smooth. 

Parmesan, salt, pepper, and butter then get mixed in at the end for extra richness and flavor.

Recipe: Creamy Polenta

49. Pasta E Lenticchie (Pasta With Lentils)

Pasta with lentils is a budget dish that tastes like anything but that. This is a unique one-pot pasta that cooks the noodles in the broth first used to make the vegetables and lentils. Once the lentils are cooked, pasta and milk are added to the mixture, and it all reduces down into a silky sauce that's just a little bit creamy from the milk. 

It's made with basic staples like onion, carrot, and tomato paste, so you can whip this up anytime for a hearty taste of Southern Italy.

Recipe: Pasta E Lenticchie 

50. Chicken Parmesan

The chicken and the cheese are the focus of chicken Parmesan, but here you can get an elevated version that makes everything better with a more flavorful sauce. In addition to your basics of onion and garlic, sherry vinegar is added to the tomato sauce for a wake-up call, and tons of depth from simmering with a Parmesan rind. 

The extra Parm lends the sauce a cheesy layer of flavor before the chicken and fresh mozzarella are nestled on top and browned in the oven to crispy perfection.

Recipe: Chicken Parmesan

51. Lobster Risotto

Risotto is a great way to stretch the flavor of a pricey ingredient, and lobster is the perfect food for that treatment. You get some nice tasty chunks of lobster mixed with the rice, but the key is the lobster stock, which uses the shell to extract as much crustacean flavor as possible. 

You get a whole meal where every bite is filled with the lavish taste of lobster, and you can do it without paying luxury-level prices.

Recipe: Lobster Risotto

52. Oven-Roasted Tomato Bucatini

Cherry tomatoes are front and center in this summery pasta dish. Roasting the cherry tomatoes brings out extra sweetness and flavor, and the juices they release mix with the garlic, olive oil, oregano, and red pepper to form the base of a simple, fresh sauce. 

Once it's out of the oven, the tomato mixture gets a splash of pasta water to help coat the bucatini. Adding some capers at the end brings some unexpected brininess that takes everything to the next level.

Recipe: Oven-Roasted Tomato Bucatini