If you love Italian food, and you like easy meals, these 30 easy Italian recipes are a great match. We’ve collected our best Italian classics, such as focaccia, rice dishes, traditional pasta, and easy salads – they’re great as appetizers, dinners, and for family gatherings.

All of these recipes are made with simple ingredients and are easy to prepare at home.

Easy Italian recipes

1. Spaghetti aglio e olio

We start this list with a 15minute pasta and a “low-budget” meal that is famous all over the world. Simply use plenty of extra virgin olive oil, fresh garlic, chili peppers or red pepper flakes, and a sprinkle of finely chopped parsley on top.

garlic and oil pasta aglio olio

2. Italian bean stew

This rich and tomato-packed Italian bean stew is a simple and flavorful recipe you can make in one pot in half an hour. Serve it as a weeknight dinner with rice, couscous, polenta, or a slice of crusty bread.

Italian bean stew on couscous

3. Easy tomato risotto

This recipe is so easy to put together, with simple pantry staples you probably already have at home. This risotto will be loved by adults and kids alike, and in just about 30 minutes, you’ll have a delicious Italian dinner on the table.

tomato risotto

4. Italian rice balls

Like the Italian tradition, we make rice balls, or to be more precise, risotto balls. We take leftover risotto and shape it into small balls without filling them (my Italian nonna never did). Then, we coat the rice balls in a tasty breadcrumb mixture and fry them in oil.

Italian rice balls dipped in marinara sauce

5. Carciofi alla romana (braised artichokes)

Carciofi alla Romana is an Italian artichoke recipe of braised artichokes simmered in a pot with water, olive oil, and herbs like mint and parsley. They are primarily served in central Italy, in and around Rome, but the recipe is now famous worldwide.

Artichokes Romana

6. Panzanella salad with bread

Panzanella is an Italian bread salad originating in the centenary peasant traditions of central Italy, especially in the Umbria, Tuscany, Lazio, and Marche regions. It’s a naturally vegan, zero-waste recipe and a great way to reuse stale bread.

panzanella salad in a serving bowl

7. Spaghetti Pomodoro

Pomodoro” in Italian means tomatoSo when Italians say pasta al Pomodoro, they mean pasta with tomato. In 20 minutes flat, and with simple ingredients, you’ll be able to prepare an authentic Italian pasta dish that will leave everyone begging for more.

tomato basil pasta or spaghetti al pomodoro with shaved parmesan

8. Tofu cacciatore

You probably heard of chicken cacciatore. Cacciatore, which means “hunter” in Italian, is a cooking style often used by Italian hunters to cook poultry and game, like chicken. We use tofu instead of chicken to create a plantbased and delicious Italian meal.

You can serve it on pastarice, or with flatbread and a side of greens. This is an excellent make-ahead recipe as it keeps well for a few days.

Tofu cacciatore in a skillet

9. Italian salsa verde dressing

This sauce, sometimes known as bagnet verd or bagnet Piemontese, was invented in the 19th century in the northern Italian region of Piedmont and quickly spread down through the Italian peninsula. It’s perfect with fresh vegetables, potatoes, salads, and bruschetta.

tomato fennel salad with salsa verde

10. Potato gnocchi

Make gnocchi with white potatoes, sweet potatoes, or pumpkin, the result is a family-friendly dinner that is absolutely restaurantworthy.

Here we’ll show you how to make gnocchi with three simple ingredients and shape them with a fork. Our recipe is the original Italian one without eggs.

homemade gnocchi recipe with bolognese

11. Lentil pasta

Lentils are the oldest legume domesticated by humans and are a nutrition powerhouse. They are an inexpensive way of getting all the nutrients you need to lead a healthy lifestyle.

Combined with pasta, they make a tasty and nutritious meal, especially if, like in this recipe, you cook them together in the same pot.

pasta and lentils

13. Tomato or eggplant bruschetta

Bruschetta, pronounced “bruˈsketta,” is a humble yet incredibly delicious meal made from thick grilled slices of stale bread rubbed with garlic and topped with a mix of good quality olive oil, salt, and tomatoes or roasted eggplant.

Italian eggplant bruschetta

14. Eggplant Pizza

From this eggplant pizza recipe, you can expect a familiar, cozy flavor, similar to Italian eggplant parmigiana, sometimes known as eggplant parmesan. The crust is not crunchy like baked pizza dough, but it’s delicious, tender, and a wonderful dish for sharing.

roasted eggplant pizza

15. Italian flatbread (piadina)

Piadina is a very popular type of Italian flatbread that is surprisingly similar to a Mexican tortilla. It’s a thin, flat, circular unleavened flatbread made with wheat flour that is versatile and can be eaten as a snack like a sandwich, or as a main dish for a quick lunch or dinner.

piadina held in a hand

16. Sauteed eggplant

This sauteed eggplant recipe is a lot easier than caponata as it’s done in 20 minutes on a pan. The eggplant dice soak in the tomato juices and garlic aroma, becoming incredibly flavorful, juicy, and tender.

sautéed eggplant in a bowl

17. Chickpea farinata

Chickpea farinata or socca is an easy recipe made by mixing chickpea flour and extra virgin olive oil, then baking it in the oven for about 20 minutes. Serve it as an appetizer with pesto, olive tapenade and roasted vegetable for an authentic Italian antipasto.

socca with pesto and herbs

18. Pesto

Make it with basil, zucchini, or parsley, this green pesto is a fantastic pasta sauce, sandwich spread, and drizzle on pizza. Make it in 5 minutes with simple ingredients, and you’ll have a quick and easy meal at hand.

zucchini pesto pasta in a bowl

19. Pasta e Fagioli

Pasta e fagioli makes the coziest family dinner ever. You can make it with simple and affordable ingredients, yet it tastes fantastic, and it’s incredibly warming and nourishing.

pasta fagioli in a white bowl with spoon

20. Easy white sauce

White sauce, also known as béchamel sauce, is a versatile sauce you can use in many recipes, from pasta bakes to savory crepes, from lasagne to oven-baked veggies. It’s a simple recipe with four ingredients in its basic form, and it’s ready in 10 minutes.

white sauce in a white pot

21. Lemon pasta with spinach

The combination of those simple ingredients – the lemon juice and zest, the olive oil, the garlic, and the chili flakes – creates a meal that is simple but incredibly delicious and satisfying.

Lemon Pasta with parmesan

22. Tomato salad

Tomato and onion salad is refreshing, easy to put together, and perfect to cool you down during those scorching summer months.

Serve it with crusty bread to soak up all the flavorful tomato juices for a simple light lunch or as a side dish.

mixed tomato salad recipe

23. Pasta Puttanesca

Originally from Naples, pasta puttanesca or aulive e chiapparielle in Napolitan (olives and capers in English) is now popular throughout Italy and worldwide thanks to its simplicitybeautiful colors, and, most importantly, its wonderfully rich and yet balanced taste.

Pasta Puttanesca with a fork

24. Lentil Vegetable soup

This easy lentil soup is wholesomehearty, and with a wonderful herby flavor. The lentils make the dish nutritious and fulfilling, packing it with textureproteiniron, and heart and gut-healthy fiber.

Lentil Vegetable Soup with hand

25. Marinara sauce

In just about 15 minutes, you’ll have a rich and tasty homemade tomato sauce you can use with any pasta.

It’s the ultimate last-minute dinner recipe and the best ace up your sleeve when you are short on time but still want to cook a delicious meal.

breaded eggplant on spaghetti with marinara sauce

26. Mushroom ragu

With this mushroom ragu, we wanted to make a quick and easy sauce without the need to simmer for a long time, like a traditional meat-based ragu. The result is a recipe you can make with affordable ingredients such as mushroom, olive oil, onion, celery, carrot, rosemary, tomato paste, salt, and pepper.

Mushroom Bolognese with fork

27. Roasted zucchini

These oven roasted zucchini are made with breadcrumbs, garlic, olive oil, and herbs, and are naturally vegan.

It is a delicious topping as it gives a lot of flavor to the zucchini (much more than the parmesan) and it gets all golden, crisp, and crunchy as the breadcrumbs gratin in the oven.

roasted zucchini on a serving platter

28. Saffron risotto

Saffron risotto originated in Milan, Italy, and it’s sometimes called risotto alla Milanese.

It’s probably the easiest risotto of all, and you can make it with seven simple ingredients following a simple process.

Saffron risotto on a white plate

29. No knead focaccia bread

This recipe shows you how to make the best and easiest focaccia bread without kneading, without any fancy equipment, with just a bowl and a spoon, and in most baking pans.

Regarding toppings, focaccia is usually topped with olive oilcoarse salt, and fresh rosemary.

rosemary focaccia

30. Penne arrabbiata

Whether it’s made with rigatoni or penne pasta, this arrabbiata sauce is a quick and tasty family favorite that’s ready in 20 minutes.

penne arrabbiata in a pan

Basic Italian pantry ingredients

Before getting started with these Italian meals, we highly recommend checking your pantry for a couple of basic but essential ingredients. We use all of these ingredients for basically any of these Italian classic dishes:

  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Passata and crushed canned tomatoes
  • Garlic cloves
  • Dried or fresh herbs, such as basil, oregano, rosemary, parsley, and thyme.
  • Parmesan cheese or dairy-free alternative (if you are vegan).
vegan parmesan
Homemade “almond” parmesan

How to store these Italian meals

Make Ahead: these Italian meals are excellent recipes to make ahead as you can refrigerate most of them for several days (or freeze the soups and sauces for months). Also, on the second and third days, the warm meals taste better than when freshly made because the flavors have time to meld.

Refrigerator: let the dishes cool down completely at room temperature, then transfer them into an airtight container and keep it in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Reheat: you can reheat pasta, soups, and sauces in a pot on the stovetop for a few minutes or in the microwave for 2 to 3 minutes. Avoid reheating them multiple times.

Easy-ish Italian desserts

Pair your easy Italian dinner with a dessert “dolci” of your choice, they are inspired by Italian dessert traditions:

  • Biscotti (flour, sugar, almonds, powdered sugar, lemon, almond milk, etc.)
  • Apple cake (milk, vegetable oil, apples, vanilla extract, baking powder, etc.)
  • Baked pears (cinnamon, walnuts, maple syrup, vanilla ice cream).
  • Coffee mousse (whipped cream, espresso coffee, sugar).

For many more 30-minute meal ideas, check out our 30-minute meal category page.

Easy Italian recipes with pasta and focaccia

Sauteed Eggplant

By: Nico Pallotta
5 from 1 vote
Here are our 30 best Italian easy recipes with plenty of appetizers, dinner, and dessert inspiration for the whole family!
This sauteed eggplant is a classic Italian recipe, and you can eat it as an eggplant side dish, as an appetizer on toasted bread, or mixed with pasta for a healthy and delicious dinner.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 4 people
Course: Appetizer, Main Course, Side dish
Cuisine: Italian

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cups cherry tomatoes halved
  • 2 cloves garlic crushed
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 large eggplant
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 15 leaves basil

Instructions 

  • Cut cherry tomatoes in half and add them to a large skillet with olive oilcrushed garlicsaltblack pepper, and red pepper flakes.
    halved tomatoes on a pan with oil and garlic
  • Fry tomatoes on medium-high heat for 5 minutes, then crush them with a fork.
    crushing fried tomatoes on pan
  • In the meantime, wash and dry the eggplant, remove the stem, and slice into 1-inch cubes (2.5 cm). Add the eggplant to the pan along with one cup of water.
    eggplant cubes added to the pan
  • Stir well, cover with a lid and sauté for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
    Take the lid off and cook for an additional 5 to 10 minutes, or until the eggplant is thoroughly cooked.
    Add fresh basil leaves to the end, stir, and serve.
    sautéed eggplant with fresh basil

SERVING SUGGESTIONS

  • APPETIZER: Serve sautéed eggplant as an appetizer on toasted bread. You can make bruschetta with larger bread slices or crostini with smaller bread slices. Either way, it'll be delicious. Link in notes.
    bruschetta with sautéed eggplant
  • MAIN COURSE: Transform this dish into a delicious main course by using it as a sauce for a tasty and nutritious pasta dish.
    All you have to do is cook a short pasta (penne, rotini, rigatoni) al dente, then add it to the pan with the sautéed eggplant alongside a cup of reserved pasta water and a handful of black olives (optional).
    Toss for a minute on medium heat and serve with plenty of fresh basil and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
    pasta with sautéed eggplant
  • SIDE DISH: This sautéed eggplant recipe was created as a side dish. Try it with one of our easy tofu dishes for a healthy, tasty, and nutritious dinner.
    sautéed eggplant in a bowl

Video

Sauteed Eggplant | tasty eggplant in just 20 mins

Nutrition

Calories: 126kcal, Carbohydrates: 15g, Protein: 3g, Fat: 7g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 5g, Trans Fat: 0g, Cholesterol: 0mg, Potassium: 632mg, Dietary Fiber: 6g, Sugar: 9g, Vitamin A: 721IU, Vitamin B6: 0.2mg, Vitamin C: 30mg, Vitamin E: 2mg, Vitamin K: 21µg, Calcium: 36mg, Folate: 52µg, Iron: 1mg, Manganese: 1mg, Magnesium: 35mg, Zinc: 0.5mg
Tried this recipe? Leave a comment below or mention @theplantbasedschool on Instagram. We are also on Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube, and TikTok.

If you liked these easy Italian meals, you might also enjoy:


Nico and Louise in the kitchen

Hi! We are Nico & Louise

Welcome to The Plant-Based School, a food blog with easy, tasty, and wholesome recipes.

Our aim is to help you and your family eat more veggies through delicious recipes with simple ingredients.

Easy right?

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating