Ahhhhh you’re living in one of the greatest food capitals in the world. It seems like all Italian dishes have cheese. Okay not all, but a great number of the cuisines include cheese in the recipe. On it or in it, oh it doesn’t matter I just want more of IT!! I am a huge fan of cheese. I can’t seem to get enough.

In this short foodie blog, I will prepare 3 Italian dishes that are full of cheese. And the recipes to follow. But, before we get into the dishes and recipes, let’s take a look at some of the culinary history of Italy. Who were the main influencers? What sort of food did they eat back in the day?

traditional italian food

Italian dishes have been influenced by many factors and people through numerous centuries. Most culinary historians agree that Italian dishes go as far back to the ancient times. Some of the most prominent influencers were the Etruscans, Ancient Greeks, and Ancient Romans.

The History of traditional Italian Food

The Etruscans were an ancient civilization located around the central parts of Italy. From Northern Lazio to Tuscany, their typical diet include legumes, cheese, garlic, and onions. The Etruscans were not huge meat-eaters. Though, historians believe they raised pigs.

Ancient Greek cuisines typically surrounded three main ingredients: Wheat, Oil, and Wine (this makes so much sense). But this wasn’t all, they also ate eggs, fruits and vegetables, bread, and dairy products. Greeks did have meat in their diet, it just depended on their status. If they could afford it and their location. In the cities: pigs, sheep, and goats were very common for people to consume. The countryside: game such as wild geese and other fowls were more typical to eat.

traditional italian food

Romans, heavily influenced by the Greeks. Copied a great number of Greek dishes, for instance, bread made from different grains were common amongst the civilization and for their soldiers in the military. Other foods they were known for were berries and nuts, dried fruit, and their uses of seasoning and sweeteners, root crops, and wild mushrooms.

italian food recipes with pictures

When did modern Italian cuisines begin?

This is still debated, but historians theorize that the modern cuisines of Italy formed nearly after the fall of the Roman Empire. This was a time of great change, social and political. The exploration of the New World brought in many new spices and herbs. Not to mention traditions and cultures, these Italian regions started developing their own traditions and with it, new dishes were born.

What is a traditional Italian dish?

Italy’s a vast, diverse country. People of the North have different tastes than the South, people in the city like different foods then the people in the mountains and countryside.

There is no traditional dish that can define all of Italy.

Pasta in the South is typically made of semolina and are dried while in the North, they prefer a fresher pasta, often with eggs.

People living in the coastal areas typically like more seafood than the people up in the mountains, who typically eat heavy meat dishes and fish.

So wherever you are in Italy and you ask for a traditional dish. They will serve you their region’s traditional dish. Which could be tremendously different from the one made in a neighboring region. Just know that many traditional dishes are location-specific.

Food Time! Italian food recipes

The 3 dishes we will course through, are the Skillet Lasagna, a Cheesy Gnocchi (“Noc-ee”) Skillet, and a Home Style Baked Pasta (vegetarian dish).

skillet lasagna

Skillet Lasagna

Offers all the great and intricate flavors of a traditional lasagna, without the hassle and long time

Time: 50 minutes

Difficulty: Medium difficulty

Cost: 11-15€ ($12-17)

Ingredients: 14 (Few are optional ingredients)

  • Olive oil
  • Garlic (4 cloves)
  • 0.60kg (1.25 pounds) of Sausage
  • ½ cup of red wine (optional)
  • 3 oz. tomato paste
  • 1.15 oz. of diced tomatoes
  • Italian Seasoning
  • ½ cup of water
  • 8 oz. of Pasta
  • 15 oz. ricotta cheese
  • ¼ cup of grated parmesan
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1 cup of Shredded Mozzarella
  • 3 cups of baby spinach (optional)

Prep:

-Get all your ingredients out. In the right measurement.

-Dice the tomatoes.

-Grate the parmesan, shred the mozzarella.

– ½ cup of wine for the food (or just pour yourself one)

Instructions:

  1. Get a large skillet over medium heat. Pour 2 spoons of olive oil and throw in the 4 cloves of garlic (minced). Let it simmer for about 2-3 minutes, then add the italian sausages to the skillet. Break it up and cook until its browned.
  2. After the sausages are cooked. Throw in the ½ cup of red wine (optional) and tomato paste (3 oz.). Cook and stir, and then add the diced tomatoes, Italian seasoning, and about a ½ cup of water. Reduce heat to low.
  3. As the sausages and sauce simmers on low in the skillet. Cook pasta according to package, for about 7-10 minutes or until al dente (firm to the bite). Drain pasta in a colander.
  4. Stir the drained pasta into the skillet. Heat should still be on low. Add the fresh spinach and stir.
  5. In a separate bowl combine ricotta, parmesan, and add salt and pepper to taste in the bowl and evenly mix. After, by the spoonful put the ricotta mixture over the sauce and pasta. Then, sprinkle one cup of shredded mozzarella over the top. Heat should still be on low, cover the top so the cheeses melt. Should be 5-10 minutes.
  6. Bon Appétit

cheesy gnocchi skillet

Cheesy Gnocchi Skillet

Truly Italian comfort food at its best.

**Gnocchi is pronounced like: “noc-ee” **

Time: 30 minutes

Difficulty: Easy

Cost: 10-12€ ($12-15)

Ingredients: 7

  • 0.45kg (1 lb.) of Gnocchi
  • Olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 0.23kg (0.5 lb.) frozen chopped greens
  • 24 oz. pasta sauce
  • 2 spoons of grated parmesan
  • 1 cup of shredded mozzarella

Prep:

-Get all ingredients out.

-Chop the greens.

-Grate the parmesan, shred the mozzarella.

Instructions:

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add the gnocchi. Boil for about 2-3 minutes, you’ll know when they’re ready. They start to float, once all the gnocchis are floating. Drain them in a colander.
  2. Get a large skillet on medium heat. Add olive oil and throw in garlic (minced). Once the garlic softens, giving off that aroma. Add the drained gnocchi to the skillet and sauté. We want the gnocchi to have a nice golden brown (don’t stir too often). Let it sit and stir. Stirring too often will prevent it from browning and getting crisp.
  3. Once the gnocchis are golden and crispy, add the pasta sauce and frozen greens (chopped). Stir and allow the heat through for 5 minutes. Sprinkle the parmesan and shredded mozzarella on top. Place a lid, allow the cheese to melt.
  4. Serve hot!

baked pasta recipe

Home Style Baked Pasta Recipe  (vegetarian dish)

Pasta fused with fresh veggies, tangy tomato, and lots of cheese.

Time: 1 hour

Difficulty: Easy

Cost: 16€ ($18)

Ingredients: 15

  • 0.2kg (0.45 lb) of short Pasta
  • Olive oil
  • Medium onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup mixed bell pepper
  • 1 cup of mushrooms (sliced)
  • 1 cup of spinach (chopped)
  • 1 medium-sized eggplant
  • ½ cup of mixed olives (optional)
  • 1-2 green chillies (chopped)
  • 1 cup tomato puree
  • 2 cups of mixed cheese (grated)
  • 1 cup of cream
  • ½ cup of breadcrumbs (optional)
  • 0.15kg (0.35 lb.) of butter cubes

Prep:

-Get all your ingredients out.

-Chop the onion

-Slice the mushrooms

-Chop the Spinach and green chillies

-Cut the butter in to cubes

Instructions:

  1. Put a large pan on medium heat. Add olive oil and then add in minced garlic, chopped onions and chillies, and let it sauté for 2-3 minutes. After that, put in bell peppers, eggplant, mushrooms, olives, and the spinach. Let it stay for 5-7 minutes. Adjust heat to medium-low.  Don’t forget to preheat the oven to 70-80C (160-180F)
  2. Bring a pot of water to a boil, add salt. Then put in the pasta, boil for 7-10 minutes or al dente (firm to the bite). Drain pasta in colander.
  3. After all the vegetables in the pot have been simmering, pour in the tomato puree and cream. Add seasoning to taste. After, pour the drained pasta into the vegetable mix on the pan. Take off heat after about 3 minutes.
  4. Put the cheese mixture into the pan and mix in with the pasta. Save some cheese for the top layer. Get a baking pan ready by greasing it.
  5. After, pour the contents of the pan on to the greased pan and throw on the rest of the cheese, evenly spread. Layer the top with breadcrumbs and top with cubed butter.
  6. Place in the oven for 20 minutes at 70-80C (160-180F). Keep an eye on it!
  7. Bon Appétit!

We’re in a country of where some of the best food is cooked. And i bet you, like i, would love to eat out every night. Trying something new and mouth-watering by the night, but sadly I can’t afford this lifestyle. But, once in a while is okay! Go out eat something you’ve never had, now look up the recipe and make it at home. Maybe, it won’t be good or it will, you never know until you try and perfect your skills as a chef. Everyone loves a good cook. Try these easy to medium difficulty dishes before branching out to more complicated dishes. And remember the kitchen isn’t just for the food to be prepared and eaten, enjoy the company of others. Relish in each other stories as you prepare, cook, and eat.

Cheers!