Italian Night Recipe Ideas
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I enjoy making Italian recipes and sharing them with my family–usually with a salad and a nice bottle of wine. And did you know that here in United States, we celebrate Italian-American Heritage Month in October? But for me, every month is a great time to enjoy Italian food! Here are a few Italian Night Recipe Ideas to serve to your family.
(Post modified on 4/12/23.)
Did you know that a Traditional Italian dinner might consist of six courses that would last over 2 hours? This type of meal is more like an event–perhaps on a Sunday afternoon with family and friends and plan for plenty of visiting in-between courses. Because there are so many courses, the portions are smaller than what we might see in the U.S. If you would like to learn more about a Traditional Italian dinner, see this POST about a dinner I made for our family that had six courses!
Let’s Begin with Italian Appetizers
Every Italian meal begins with some type of Antipasto to whet your appetite. This can be as simple as a tray of cheese with salami and olives. Below are a few more ideas that would work as well.
Mozzarella Cheese Sticks – These cheese sticks are simply fabulous and a great start to your Italian dinner. Fried in a seasoned bread coating with oozy mozzarella cheese. Oh yes, please.
Homemade Toasted Ravioli – When we were in St. Louis one weekend, we tried our first toasted ravioli and were amazed at the wonderful flavor. If you’ve never tried these little jewels, please give this recipe a try! I think you will be very pleased, as will your guests for the evening!
Baked Gruyere Cheese Dip is especially good served with a toasted hard bread such as my Tangy Sourdough Bread or with freshly sliced apples or pears.
The Bread Basket
Italians serve bread during the meal, usually some type of breadstick or rustic bread that you break off, or even flatbread. Americans would probably serve a green salad or soup with the bread.
Cheesy Bread Sticks – Everyone loves when I serve these cheesy bread sticks. Soft and perfectly seasoned with herbs and garlic, they go perfectly with any saucy main dishes.
Soft Breadsticks – Everyone loves breadsticks, whether they are loaded with cheese or buttered with garlic and herbs. These soft breadsticks again go well with any saucy main dishes.
Rustic Sourdough Baguettes are so delicious. Our family loves when I make them. Hard and crusty on the outside, chewy on the inside, and just the right taste of tangy sourness.
Sourdough Olive Flatbread is loaded with lots of flavor from the sourdough, olives, and herbs. Plus it’s crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside.
Soups and Side Dishes
Creamy Chicken Gnocchi Soup is so delicious. Serve this creamy soup with a hard, crusty bread for a drool-worthy, but simple dinner fit for your most honored guests.
Butternut Squash Risotto with Saffron is a new favorite. Creamy risotto with tender roasted butternut squash, flavored with the subtle essence of savory saffron. A perfect side dish for autumn, served with your favorite chicken or pork recipes.
Asparagus and Mushroom Risotto is well worth trying! Creamy, satiny rice with bits of asparagus and mushrooms. You’ll feel like you’ve attained a great achievement!
I’ve recently become a fan of homemade gnocchi and this Skillet Gnocchi and Brussels Sprouts is so easy and delicious to make, you’ll be coming up with all kinds of meals to serve it with!
Choosing an Italian Main Entree
Here in America, we often combine our main entree with pasta and vegetables. Sausage is very popular as is chicken. In Italy the portions are probably much smaller and have less meat, but don’t expect that in the US. I remember the first time I ate at an authentic Italian restaurant in Chicago. They served us huge family-style portions. And it was fabulous.
You can make any one of these dishes to enjoy in your own home, which will also be truly fabulous!
Pasta and Italian Sausage Dishes
Baked Five-Cheese Ravioli – My husband loves when I make homemade ravioli. It’s one of his favorite dishes. This casserole is loaded with lots of yummy red sauce and my little cheesy jewels.
Ragu Bolognese with Homemade Pappardelle – Ragu is one of most traditional Italian dishes. This recipe is simmered low and slow on the stove and then served over a bed of thickly sliced homemade pappardelle. So good. One of my favorite Italian comfort foods.
Our family loves Italian food, especially when I make my homemade Spaghetti Sauce and Mighty Meatballs. The sauce cooks long and slow and fills the kitchen with such a delightful aroma it makes everyone hungry.
Bow Tie Pasta with Sausage – This recipe was probably the first Italian dish I made using fresh herbs and seasonings. My eyes were opened to the possibilities and I never turned back. This is a simple dish to make and great for weeknight dinners.
Homemade Lasagna with Ricotta Cheese – Our family loves lasagna and this is a made with homemade lasagna noodles, meat sauce, and lots of cheese. So yummy. Plus it feeds a large family. Serve this up with a nice salad and a hard, crusty bread, and you have a winner for dinner!
Italian Meatloaf with Mozzarella – This Italian Meatloaf is loaded with herbs and spices along with chunks of fresh mozzarella. Serve this dish with your favorite marinara sauce. This is another winning recipe at our house.
Pasta and Chicken Dishes
Chicken Parmesan with Linguine – This dish was one of the first Italian meals that I made. It’s still one of our favorites, with thin servings of chicken in a red sauce and topped with lots of mozzarella. Then served over a bed of homemade linguine. Yum!
Creamy Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo – When I first started making Chicken Alfredo, I used Bertolli Alfredo Sauce. And then I made the alfredo sauce from scratch. Which was amazingly simple. And so very delicious. I encourage you…no, I challenge you to try making your own. I think you’ll love it. Add in some frozen cauliflower and broccoli for a little color and some added vegetables. So good.
This Creamy Garlic Chicken Recipe hits the spot with butter, garlic, and heavy cream, plus Parmesan cheese. So, yummy. And perfect for a weeknight dinner. I like to serve it with mashed potatoes for a true comfort food dinner.
Italians Love Pizza – Americans Do Too!
Pizza, pizza, pizza. Americans love pizza. They tend to load their pizza with a bit more toppings than our Italian friends across the water, such as the Chicago Style Stuffed Pizza below.
Classic Italian Stromboli is made with a homemade pizza crust and then loaded with Canadian bacon, pepperoni, onions, green bell peppers, black olives, and plenty of cheese. It’s seasoned with a creamy Italian dressing that easily leaves you wanting another piece.
Thin and Crispy Pizza – If we include a recipe for Stromboli, we have to include one for Thin and Crispy Pizza. A staple at our house. The secret to this crust is 00 Italian Flour, which you can purchase online, and which is worth every penny!
Time for Dessert
Italians like to end their meals with a light dessert and a cup of espresso. This could be as simple as a cookie, fruit and cheese, or maybe a dish of frozen gelato. The serving of espresso helps aid digestion after a big meal. Here in America, as I’m sure you can guess, desserts tend to be a bit larger. Think Cheesecake or a Rustic Crostata. Here are a few ideas to tempt you.
Tiramisu with Cream Cheese is a delicious recipe to try the next time you serve an Italian dinner for your family! Filled with coffee-flavored custard cream and freshly whipped cream layered between ladyfinger cookies and topped with a heavy sprinkling of baking cocoa. So yummy.
Ricotta Cheesecake with Apple Topping – Ricotta Cheesecake is so easy to make–compared to the traditional baked cheesecake. It’s light and airy, and so very delicious. We love this fall version of this dessert with added apple topping, English walnuts, and caramel sauce.
Hazelnut Chocolate Espresso Gelato is one of my favorite Italian desserts. So creamy and delicious. Flavored with hazelnut chocolate and a touch of espresso. It’s so much better than anything you can buy in the store.
The first time I tasted a Pizzelle, I fell in love with the light, crispy cookie. They have a lovely design, practically melt in your mouth, and are perfect with a cup of tea or coffee.
I would be remiss if I failed to include chocolate in this list of desserts. Double Chocolate Biscotti with Almonds is delicious and earned a thumbs up from my family. Perfect as a simple dessert after a yummy meal.
Homemade Cannoli with Creamy Ricotta – Cannoli, cannoli, cannoli. These delicious Italian treats are worth every little effort to make. First you make the fried shell, decorate them in chocolate and chopped pistachios. Then you fill them with this amazing creamy ricotta filling. This recipe makes 16 but they will be gone before you can say Cannnoli, Cannoli, Cannoli!