Traditional Italian Pasta Recipes

Italian pasta recipes

I tried to select the most representative Italian pasta recipes from different regional traditions.

Of course there would be many more, but you can appreciate from the list below the extraordinary variety of pasta dishes in Italy. Long shaped to short shaped, hot and cold dishes, meat-based or vegetarian dishes.

This variety reflects the multitude of different influences across Italy over the centuries and its unique geographical features, from seacoast to mountains.

Sardinian cheese ravioli (culurzones)

This is a traditional cheese ravioli recipe from Sardinia. This type of pasta is locally called culurzones or culurgiones and is a sort of plaited ravioli, stuffed with different fillings from Sardinia.

Lasagne Bolognesi

The best Italian lasagna recipe is made with home-made ingredients, including the eggs pasta, meat and bechamel sauces.

Spaghetti with garlic, oil and chili

This simple spaghetti recipe is one of the easiest and most satisfying pasta dishes of all.

It is a favourite among Italian students because is quick, easy and perfect for hangovers!

But it's also popular among Italians of any age. You should aim to use the best quality oil available for this dish.

Ingredients for 4:

400 g. of spaghetti

60 ml. of extra-virgin olive oil

3 cloves garlic, chopped

60 ml. chopped fresh parsley

Salt to taste

2 small dry chili peppers

Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, to serve (optional)


Drop the spaghetti into a large pan of rapidly boiling salted water.

In a large frying pan heat the oil and gently sauté the garlic with the dry chili, previously finely crushed. Continue until the garlic it is barely golden.

Do not let it brow or it will taste bitter. Stir in the parsley. Season with salt. Remove from the heat until the pasta is ready.

Drain the pasta when it is barely “al dente”. Add it to the pan with the oil and garlic, and cook together for 3-4 minutes, stirring well to coat the spaghetti with the sauce.

Serve immediately in a warmed serving bowl, with Parmesan, if desired.

Tortellini in broth

The original tortellini recipe comes from Modena, where this famous food icon was born. According the tradition, the original shape of tortellini was inspired by the belly-bottom of a beautiful woman. Because food and romance in Italy go hand in hand ...

Every respectable Emilian housewife (and some male cooks), knows how to turn pasta or the little finger to make tortellini.

For this classic regional dish, the filling for the mini tortellini is simply freshly grated Parmesan and special breadcrumbs, flavoured with the deglazed juice from a pork or beef roast.

You can buy freshly made, good quality tortellini from delicatessen, but nothing beats the home-made ones. I remember my mum making tortellini with her friends for a full afternoon. It is way of spending time with friends for the housewives in Modena. It was how I learned to make tortellini myself.

The traditional tortellini recipe is with broth, but you can also find them cooked in a cream sauce.

Ingredients for 8:

For the filling:

150 g. Mince pork

150 g. mince beef

100 g. pork sausage

100 g. of Parma ham or other cured ham

50 g. of mortadella (or other cooked ham if you can't find it)

1 egg

1 tbsp. grated dry bread

150 g. of Parmesan cheese, freshly grated plus extra to sprinkle

Salt and pepper

Freshly grated nutmeg


400 g. egg pasta dough

2 litres very good beef stock, or a mixture of beef and chicken stock


Ideally ask your butcher to mince and mix the beef, pork and sausage. Cut separately in thin pieces the ham and mortadella. Melt the butter on a pan and then add the minced meat.

Keep cooking for a few minutes and add salt to taste.

Drain the water released by the meat and leave to cool.

Now prepare the filling: in one bowl put the cooked meat, the raw ham and mortadella, grated parmesan and bread, egg, a sprink of salt and nutmeg to taste.

Mix thouroughly and put in the fridge.

Now make the tortellini. Roll out the pasta dough very thinly and cut out little circles. Place a teaspoonful of the filling to one side of each circle, then fold the opposite sides over to make half-moon shapes. Press the edges together to seal well, then curl the two ends round to meet, patience, then make little flat round ravioli.

Bring the stock to the boil in a large pan. Add the tortellini and cook until “al dente”, about 3-4 minutes.

Ladle the soup into warm bowls and sprinkle with Parmesan to serve.

Spaghetti all'Amatriciana

Spaghetti with amatriciana sauce is a classic and tasty dish from the Lazio region, and very simple to make, with ingredients that are almost always at hand.

This dish was made since 17th century, it's name coming from the town of Amatrice.

Apparently the dish was originally bianco (white), meaning with no tomatoes, which were introduced after the Spanish invasion.

Ingredients for 6:

2 tablespoons of olive oil or lard

115 g. unsmoked lean bacon, cut into matchsticks

1 small onion, finely chopped

100 ml. of dry white wine

450 g. of fresh or canned tomatoes chopped

¼ tablespoon of thyme leaves

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

600 g. of spaghetti

Plenty of freshly grated Pecorino or Parmesan, to serve


In a medium frying pan, heat the oil or lard. Add the bacon and onion, and cook over low to moderate heat until the onion is golden and the bacon has rendered its fat and is beginning to brown. About 8-10 minutes. Bring a large pan of water to the boil.

Add the wine to the bacon and onion, raise the heat, and cook rapidly until the liquid boils off. Add the tomatoes, thyme, salt and pepper. Cover, and cook over moderate heat for 10-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, add the salt to the boiling water, and cook the pasta until it is “al dente”. Drain, toss with the sauce, and serve with the grated Pecorino or Parmesan.

Pici pasta with pork sauce

Pici pasta is an original Tuscan handmade type of pasta.

It is made by pulling on a piece of dough made of durum wheat and water (usually no egg) until you have a lengthy string the size of a bucatino without the holes.

In Tuscany, it is regularly eaten with a ragu' of wild boar, hare, rabbit or pork.

Ingredients for 6:

400 g. of pici or pinci (or the largest spaghetti as possible)

80 g. of pecorino cheese or Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

Pork ragu':

6 tablespoons of olive oil

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 celery stalk, finely diced

1 carrot, finely diced

400 g. of pork mince (not too fatty)

100 ml. of dry red wine

500 g. of polpa di pomodoro or chunky passata

5-6 bay leaves

Salt and pepper


To make a ragu', heat the olive oil in a pan, add the onion, celery and carrot, and fry gently until soft.

Add the meat and stir to brown a little, then add the wine and let the alcohol evaporate.

Stir in the tomato pulp and add the bay leaves and some seasoning. Cook very slowly for 2 hours.

Cook the pasta in plenty of boiling salted water until “al dente”, about 15-17 minutes.

Toss with the sauce and serve with grated cheese.

Linguine with pesto sauce

This linguine recipe is great using an authentic Italian pesto.

Pesto originates in Liguria, where the sea breezes are said to give the local basil a particularly fine flavour.

It is traditionally made with a mortar and pestle, but it is easier to make in a food processor or blender. You can freeze any spare pesto in an ice cube tray.

Ingredients for 5-6:

65 g, of fresh basil leaves

3-4 cloves garlic, peeled

45 ml. of pine nuts

½ tablespoon of salt

5 tablespoons of olive oil

50 g. of fresh grated Parmesan cheese

60 g, of grated pecorino cheese

Freshly ground black pepper

500 g. of linguine


The success of this recipe depends of course on the quality of the pesto sauce.

To make the pesto place the basil, garlic, pine nuts, salt and olive oil in a blender or food processor and process until smooth.

Remove to a bowl. If desired, the sauce may be frozen at this point, before the cheeses are added.

Stir in the cheeses (use all Parmesan if pecorino is not available). Taste for seasoning.

Cook the pasta in a large pan of rapidly boiling salted water until it is “al dente”. Just before draining it, take about 60 ml. of the cooking water and stir it into the sauce.

Drain the pasta ad toss with the sauce. Serve immediately.

Ravioli with pumpkin stuffing

This pumpkin ravioli recipe is a speciality of Mantua, a city in Lombardia, in the North of Italy.

During autumn and winter the northern Italian markets are full of bright orange pumpkins, which are used to make soups and pasta dishes.

Ingredients for 6-8:

1 kg. of pumpkin (weight with shell)

75 g. of amaretti, finely crushed

2 eggs

75 g. of freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Pinch of grated nutmeg

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Plain breadcrumbs, as required

Egg pasta sheets made with 3 eggs

To serve:

115 g. of butter

75 g. of freshly grated Parmesan cheese


Preheat the oven to 190 °. Cut the pumpkin into 10 cm. pieces. Leave the skin on. Place the pumpkin pieces in a covered casserole and bake for 45-50 minutes.

When cool, cut off the skins. Purée the flesh in a food mill or food processor or press through a sieve.

Combine the pumpkin pure' with the biscuits crumbs, eggs, Parmesan and nutmeg. Season with salt and pepper. If the mixture is too wet, add 15-30 g. of breadcrumbs. Set aside.

Prepare the sheets of egg pasta. Roll out very thinly by hand or machine. Do not let the pasta dry out before filling it.

Place tablespoons of filling every 6-7 cm along the pasta in rows 5 cm. apart. Cover with another sheet of pasta, and press down gently. Use a fluted pastry wheel to cut between the rows to form rectangles with filling in the center of each.

Place the ravioli on a lightly floured surface, and allow to dry for at least 30 minutes. Turn them occasionally so they dry on both sides.

Bring a large pan of salted water to a boil. Gently heat the butter over very low heat, taking care that it does not darken.

Drop the ravioli into the boiling water. Stir to prevent from sticking. They will be cooked in 4-5 minutes.

Drain and arrange in individual dishes. Spoon on the melted butter, sprinkle with Parmesan or Romano, and serve.

Orecchiette pasta with broccoli

Orecchiette pasta with broccoli is a yummy and classic dish from Puglia, in southern Italy. This region specializes in imaginative pasta and vegetable combinations.

Orecchiette literally means "small ears" to reflect its characteristic shape. The shell-like shape of orecchiette is ideal to capture the sauce of this pasta dish.

Using the broccoli cooking water for boiling the pasta will also give it more of the vegetable’s flavour.

Ingredients for 6:

800 g/1 3/4 lb broccoli

450 g/1 lb Orecchiette or penne

90 ml/6 tbsp olive oil

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

6 anchovy fillets in oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Peel the stems of the broccoli, starting from the base and pulling up towards the florets with a knife. Discard the woody parts of the stern. Cut florets and stems into 5 cm/2 in pieces.

Bring a large pan of wate3r to the boil. Drop in the broccoli, and boil until barely tender, about 5-8 minutes. Remove the broccoli pieces from the pan to a serving bowl. Do not discard the cooking water.

Add salt to the broccoli cooking water. Bring it back to a boil. Drop in the pasta, stir well, and cook until it is al dente.

While the pasta is boiling, heat the oil in a small pan. Add the garlic and, 2-3 minutes, the anchovy fillets. Using a fork, mash the anchovies and garlic to a paste. Cook for 3-4 minutes more.

Before draining the pasta, ladle 1-2 cupfuls of the cooking water over the broccoli. Add the drained pasta and the hot anchovy and oil mixture. Mix well, and season with salt and pepper if necessary. Serve at once.

Spaghetti alla Puttanesca

The Puttanesca recipe is a classic Italian pasta dish, quick and very easy to do!

And full of flavours from capers, fresh tomatoes, anchovies and olives.

This spicy sauce originated in the Naples area, where it was apparently named after the local women of easy virtue...

It can be quickly assembled using a few kitchen cupboard staples.

Ingredients for 4:

60 ml/4 tbsp olive oil

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

Small piece of dried chilli, crumbled

50 g/2 oz can of anchovy fillets, chopped

350 g/12 oz tomatoes, fresh or canned chopped

115 g/4 oz/ 2/3 cup pitted black olives

30 g/2 tbsp capers, rinsed

15 ml/1 tbsp tomato paste

400 g/14 oz spaghetti

2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley, to serve


Bring a large pan of water to the boil. Heat the oil in a large frying pan. Add the garlic and the dried chilli, and cook for 2-3 minutes until the garlic is just golden.

Add the anchovies, and mash them into the garlic with a fork.

Add the tomatoes, olives and capers and tomato paste. Stir well and cook over moderate heat.

Add salt to the boiling water, and put in the spaghetti. Stir, and cook until the pasta is just al dente. Drain.

Turn the spaghetti into the sauce. Raise the heat, and cook for 1-2 minutes, turning the pasta constantly. Sprinkle with parsley if desired and serve.

Traditionally, like in any seafood pasta dish, no cheese is served with this sauce.

Sicilian pasta sardine (Pasta con sarde)

The sweet and sour flavours of this sardine recipe reflect the Arabic influence on Sicilian culture.

In this classic Sicilian dish, fresh sardines are combined with sultanas and pine nuts.

Ingredients for 4:

30 g/1 ¼ oz/3 tbsp sultanas

450 g/1 lb fresh sardines

90 ml/6 tbsp breadcrumbs

1 small fennel bulb

90 ml/6 tbsp olive oil

1 medium onion, very thinly sliced

30 g/1 ¼ oz/3 tbsp pine nuts

½ tsp fennel seeds

salt and freshly ground black pepper

400 g/14 oz long hollow pasta such as percatelli, ziti, or bucatini


Soak the sultanas in warm water for 15 minutes. Drain and pat dry.

Clean the sardines. Open each one out flat and remove the back bone and head. Wash well and shake dry. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs.

Coarsely chop the top fronds of fennel and reserve. Pull off a few outer leaves and wash. Fill a large pan with enough water to cook the pasta. Add the fennel leaves and bring to a boil.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan and sauté the onion lightly until soft. Remove to a side dish. Add the sardines, a few at a time, and cook over moderate heat until golden on both sides, turning them once carefully. When all the sardines have been cooked, gently return them to the pan. Add the onion, and the sultanas, pine nuts and fennel seeds. Season with salt and pepper.

Take about 60 ml/4 tbsp of the boiling water for the pasta, and add it to the sauce. Add salt to the boiling water, and drop in the pasta. Cook until it is al dente. Drain, and remove the fennel leaves. Dress the pasta with the sauce. Divide between individual serving plates, arranging several sardines on each. Sprinkle with the reserved chopped fennel tops before serving.

Smoked salmon pasta recipe

This salmon pasta recipe with juicy creamy sauce makes a little go a long way!

In Italy smoked salmon is imported, and quite expensive. Use a mixture of green and white pasta for best visual result.

The best shapes of pasta for this recipe are tagliatelle or linguine.

Ingredients for 4-5:

115 g. of smoked salmon slices or ends, fresh or frozen

300 ml. of single cream

Pinch of ground mace or nutmeg

350 g. of green and white egg pasta (tagliatelle or linguine)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

45 ml. of chopped fresh chives, to garnish


Cut the salmon into thin strips about 5 cm in long. Place in a bowl with the cream and the mace or nutmeg. Stir, cover, and allow to stand for at least 2 hours in a cool place.

Bring a large pan of water to a boil for the pasta. While the water is heating, gently warm the cream and salmon mixture in a small saucepan without boiling it.

Add the salt to the boiling water. Drop in the pasta all at once. Drain when it is just “al dente”.

Pour the sauce over the pasta and mix well. Season and garnish with the chives.

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