Italian cuisine is beloved for good reason. It has birthed some of the most iconic dishes that restaurants and home cooks alike make on repeat. On Ciao House, a new culinary competition that takes place in stunning Tuscany, 10 chefs will test their mastery of the best Italian dishes, and be judged by hosts Alex Guarnaschelli, Gabriele Bertaccini, some of Italy’s most revered chefs and their fellow competitors. From classic cocktails to pasta dishes, and let’s not forget about dessert, here are the iconic Italian recipes that will take your taste buds on vacation to the Ciao House!
Bolognese sauce dates back to the 18th century, when the earliest known recipe is credited to Alberto Alvis from near the Bologna region. This traditional recipe uses Italian red wine, charcuterie trimmings and veal to build a hearty flavour. Ridged rigatoni noodles are the perfect vessel to coat in all that delicious red sauce (but don’t be afraid to soak up every last bit with some bread!).
Tuscan White Bean Skillet
Try this meatless Tuscan classic that’s packed with protein and flavour and uses commonly available ingredients that are typical of the region. Cannellini beans are stewed in a garlicky tomato sauce that’s hit with sharp Pecorino cheese. Sop all that creamy goodness up with a crusty slice of artisan bread for a 20-minute dinner that will transport you right to the rolling hills of Tuscany.
Italian Pastina Soup
Pastina, which translates to “tiny pasta” in Italian, is a small variety that pairs well with this hearty Italian chicken soup that can compete with any nonna’s. You’ll be surprised how quickly it comes together given the rich and comforting flavour. The secret? Add Parmesan rind to the stock to add richness. It’s an excellent make-ahead meal to have on hand for whenever the sniffles start or you just need a comforting bowl of goodness.
The Negroni is a classic Italian apéritif that will instantly send your taste buds on vacation to the Bel Paese (beautiful country). In this twist on the original cocktail that was invented in Florence, a splash of blood orange juice gives an extra citrus-y taste in addition to the usual orange garnish.
Related: Val’s Classic Negroni
This delicious dumpling that’s a staple in Italian cuisine dates all the way back to Roman times. It’s typically made with potatoes and semolina flour, but Mark McEwan‘s variation uses creamy ricotta cheese for extra soft dumplings reminiscent of a gnudi. These pair perfectly with a simple butter and sage sauce, or with a creamy gorgonzola cheese sauce.
Eggplant parmigiana (or simply, eggplant parm) is a classic Southern Italian dish dating back to the late 18th century. While the original recipe may not have used an air fryer, this deliciously crispy dish made with crunchy breaded slices of eggplant and topped with marinara sauce and Parmesan cheese is still a classic today beloved by fans of Italian cuisine.
Translating to “hunter’s chicken“, this throw-together dish originated in central Italy. As the name suggests, this dish is prepared “hunter-style” with the freshly caught fowl stewed in one pot with vegetables and wine. It was traditionally served with bread, but it’s also great on top of your favourite pasta.
There’s little more comforting than a warm lasagna dinner, fresh out of the oven. It comes in so many varieties that can easily be customized based on your taste or dietary preferences: vegan lasagna, lasagna made with spinach and a creamy sauce, or the classic meat and marinara variety.
Rice was first brought to Italy in the Middle Ages, and the Milanese then used the short-grain variety to create this saucy, pasta-like dish. Risotto is rice cooked in a broth of seafood, meat or vegetable stock and white wine, and then hit with sharp cheese like Parmesan to further enhance this creamy rice dish.
This rich Italian pudding is a delicious way to end any meal. Panna cotta, which translates to “cooked cream” is a simple dessert made of cream, sugar, gelatin and flavouring, the most traditional being vanilla. The dish originates from Piedmont, in the north of Italy, but is served at nearly every restaurant in the country.