Superfast Italian Recipes
Pasta, pizza, and everything in between can be ready in 20 minutes or less with these quick and easy Italian recipes.
Normally just a pile of shrimp drowned in butter, shrimp scampi gets a kick in the pants from our recipe, both nutritionally and flavorfully. We cook our shrimp in a reasonable amount of butter to get the taste and silky mouthfeel of classic scampi, then we make a garlicky sauce with lemon and pepper for even more flavor. A serving of shrimp atop cooked orzo makes for a complete meal, but the calories per serving are under control at 403.
Not only does fresh pasta from the refrigerated section cook faster than dried, it also tastes better―the chewy texture of the pasta is an incomparable improvement. Here the pasta is mixed with an abundance of zucchini, mint, and marinated tomatoes, with a sprinkle of almonds for extra crunch. Add a side salad for a filling vegetarian meal, or add cooked shrimp or chicken to the pasta to create a one-dish dinner.
A good steak needs very little preparation, which is why this dish is so fast―sprinkle the meat with salt and pepper, cook 8 minutes or until the right doneness (much beyond medium is a bad idea), and you're done. The assertive peppery flavor of arugula is a nice counterpoint to the steak, while the mushrooms' earthiness complements it. Serve with garlic bread as suggested, or try small portions of pasta tossed with a little olive oil or butter and garlic.
There are ways to use salmon other than a whole cooked steak or fillet with some veggies. Flaking the fish apart and incorporating into this fresh salad makes three ounces per serving go a long way, and adds some nice strong flavors to stand up to the salmon. The feta and olives are an uncommon pairing with fish, but their tangy acidity works here. Other kinds of seafood―crabmeat, chopped shrimp, or canned tuna―can also fit well into this salad.
"We love this recipe and have added it to our weeknight rotation because it is so easy. I like the techinique of heating the pan in the oven first - it really does make for a crispier crust." —DMT4641
Crushed red pepper is optional in this recipe but, if you can take the heat, it will give the flavors in this pizza a kick. Heating a cookie sheet in the oven before you put the pizza on it gives you a crisper crust.
Chicken cutlets are lined with fresh sage and wrapped with prosciutto in this quick recipe fit for special occasions. Serve this light and savory dish over a bed of angel hair pasta or polenta to catch all the sauce.
Cheese tortellini adds great creaminess and flavor to this dish, and makes it super-simple. Beyond the pasta, you just need to cook some spinach (chard, kale, or almost any other green will work too), and toss everything together. You can also substitute pancetta or bacon for the prosciutto, but if so, you need to cook it until crisp before adding to the pasta.
Italian sausage is tasty on its own, and simmering it in the soup gives every spoonful great flavor. This recipe is about as easy as it gets, and it's adaptable to whatever you have on hand. Any short pasta can replace the shells, any green can replace the spinach, and you can add pretty much whatever other ingredients you like. Try canellini or garbanzo beans instead of or in addition to pasta, or fresh thyme or oregano on top of basil.
Arrabbiata is a spicy tomato-and-red-pepper sauce that originated in Rome. The easy sauce (you can make a double or triple batch and freeze the extra) can top scallops, chicken, pork, tofu, or your favorite veggies over pasta for a simple meal anytime.
The thick, creamy sauce of a good carbonara is a wonderful cold-weather comfort food. You want the eggs to thicken, but not curdle; adding a little pasta cooking water to the mixture helps ensure the right consistency. If asparagus is out of season, use broccoli, Broccolini, or snap beans instead.
Hamburgers are a quintessential American food, but a topping of balsamic-caramelized onions and the Parmesan and herbs in the patties themselves give this recipe nice Italian flavor. If you must have a cheeseburger, melt half an ounce of part-skim mozzarella over each patty. This adds 36 calories and 2.3 grams of fat per serving, but if you're a cheese lover it's worth it (and it adds calcium, too).
Lest you think Italian cuisine is set in stone and unchanging, puttanesca sauce didn't exist until the 1950s or '60s. There are several colorful legends about its creation, but all point to a flavorful and chunky tomato sauce with olives and capers. We pair it here with meaty grouper, but another white-fleshed fish or chicken will also work. For even more authenticity, add an anchovy or two with the tomatoes as you cook the sauce.
You're reading the recipe correctly: There are green grapes in this dish. Their juicy, crisp, and bright sweetness complements the tomatoes and provides a nice contrast to feta's creamy tang. Besides the pan-grilled asparagus shown, any green vegetable sautéed or grilled with a little garlic, salt, and pepper makes a good side―try spinach, broccoli, or even kale.
Everybody craves pizza once in a while (and some of us crave it all the time), so we created this 20-minute recipe to be even faster and healthier than delivery. And everything tastes better when it's homemade. Substitutions are easy: No fresh tomatoes? Slice some whole canned ones. No pancetta? Use bacon, ham, or prosciutto, or just leave it off altogether. Got some leftover spinach, olives, or onion? Throw it on! If you have some extra time, try from-scratch pizza dough―worth the effort.
Smoked paprika, now widely available in supermarkets, is one of our favorite spices. A simple sprinkle is all it takes to add huge smoky-spicy-sweet flavor to any dish, from pork to potatoes. These three-minute shrimp pair with cheesy polenta cakes to create a dish low in saturated fat and sodium, with just 231 calories per serving. Classic Caesar Salad is a near-perfect partner.
There's no reason to be scared of scallops. The secret is to cook them on a very hot pan for a very short time―we're not kidding about the one minute per side, and it'll be even shorter if you have small scallops. Perfectly browned and tender, they need only the simplest seasoning to make a tasty, easy, and elegant meal.
Crisp-crusted pork with the brightness of lemon and the sharp bite of capers makes an excellent flavorful weeknight meal paired with a green salad or steamed vegetable and basic pasta. But you can really dress up this recipe and turn it into a fall dinner-party dish by pairing it with this great mushroom risotto.
Tender, flaky fish and a bit of a crust from dredging in flour and tender make a beautiful texture contrast, while smooth, creamy butter and piquant capers create a flavor contrast to match in this classic preparation. Chicken or veal scaloppini are the traditional meats used in piccata, and they can be substituted in this recipe, but any flaky white fish matches excellently with its bright flavors too.
Freshness is the name of the game here, with zucchini, corn, tomatoes, and basil joining meaty bacon and lots of savory Parmesan over noodles, almost no seasoning required. Any short pasta, from shells to bow ties, can replace the cavatappi. A summery dessert is a great match; Seared Figs and White Peaches with Balsamic Reduction makes a great choice and takes just 10 minutes.
It's a dirty secret of professional chefs that many classic restaurant dishes are as easy to make as this one. Seven ingredients and less than 10 minutes are all it takes to create a rich, delicious meal (and for much less money than at the neighborhood bistro). Use high-quality veal, good marsala (get it from the wine section or a wine shop, not on the pasta-sauce aisle), fresh mushrooms, and flavorful beef consommé (you can substitute packaged stock or broth) for the best taste.
This is an excellent non-traditional spin on the classic favorite. The creamy dressing is infused with both the basil-garlic punch of pesto and the lemon-anchovy pungency of Caesar dressing. The salad makes a great lunch (pack the lettuce, croutons, and dressing separately to assemble at work), or a nice starter before many of the other dishes in this gallery.
Fig season may only last a few weeks, but fig jam captures the complex sweetness of the fruit excellently, and is available any time of year. These sandwiches are a great use of leftover chicken, and the easy skillet toasting process makes them warm, gooey, and wonderful. Sliced deli chicken, turkey, or ham can also fill the sandwich, though it'll be a bit flatter.