15 Traditional Italian Side Dishes

When it comes to side dishes, Italians know how to do it right. There are so many traditional Italian side dishes that you can choose from, but I am going to highlight a few of my favorites in this article.

Trust me when I say that I had a hard time choosing which traditional Italian side dish to include in this list and which to exclude since all of them are *chef’s kiss*. No matter what you’re in the mood for, there’s a traditional Italian side dish that will complement it perfectly!

So whether you’re in the mood for something simple or you’re looking to impress your guests, be sure to check out my guide to the best traditional Italian side dishes. Buon appetito!

Traditional Italian Side Dishes:

  1. Heirloom Tomato Bruschetta
  2. Cacio e Pepe
  3. Deli Pinwheel Sandwiches
  4. Panzanella Salad
  5. Tortellini Soup
  6. Minestrone
  7. Carpaccio
  8. Caprese Salad
  9. Frisella Pugliesi
  10. Risotto
  11. Stuffed Eggplant
  12. Burrata Salad
  13. Prosciutto Pastry
  14. Stuffed Portobello Mushroom
  15. Italian Garlic Bread

Heirloom Tomato Bruschetta

Heirloom tomato bruschetta is a popular variation of bruschetta that highlights the unique flavor of heirloom tomatoes, which are prized for their intense flavor and vibrant colors.

When it comes to health benefits, heirloom tomatoes are packed with antioxidants and vitamins A and C. They also contain lycopene, a nutrient that has been linked to reduced risks of cancer and heart disease. So not only is this dish flavorful, but it’s good for you too!

To make heirloom tomato bruschetta, start by slicing a baguette into 1-inch pieces. Then, preheat your oven and place the baguette slices on a baking sheet. Next, slice several heirloom tomatoes into small pieces and toss them with garlic, olive oil, and salt.

Once the oven is preheated, bake the baguettes for about 10 minutes or until they are crispy. Finally, top them with the tomato mixture and serve immediately.

Cacio e Pepe

Cacio e Pepe is a traditional Italian side dish that is simple to make and packed with flavor. The dish gets its name from the two main ingredients, cacio cheese, and black pepper. Despite dating back to Roman times, it still remains a popular choice for both home cooks and professional chefs similar to this day.

This traditional Italian dish is made with just a few simple ingredients: pasta, Pecorino cheese, pepper, and olive oil. To start, cook the pasta in boiling water according to the package directions. While the pasta is cooking, grate the Pecorino cheese and grind the pepper. Once the pasta is cooked, drain it and add it to a large bowl with the cheese and pepper. Add a drizzle of olive oil and toss to combine. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Deli Pinwheel Sandwiches

Deli pinwheel sandwiches are a classic side dish that is perfect for any occasion. They are easy to make and can be made ahead of time, making them ideal for potlucks and parties. To make them, simply spread a thin layer of mayonnaise on a flour tortilla, top with your favorite deli meats and cheeses, and roll up tightly. Then, cut the roll into 1-inch slices and serve. For an extra touch of flavor, try adding some chopped green onions or sun-dried tomatoes to the mix. Bon appetit!

Panzanella Salad

Panzanella salad is another delicious and healthy side dish that originates from Italy. The salad is made with bread, tomatoes, onions, and herbs, and it is typically dressed with olive oil and vinegar.

The bread helps to absorb the flavors of the other ingredients, and the tomatoes provide a burst of sweetness. The salad can be served as is, or it can be topped with grilled chicken or fish. For a truly authentic Italian experience, try serving Panzanella salad at your next meal.

Tortellini Soup

Soup always makes a great side dish. And when it comes to soup, tortellini is definitely the way to go. This delicious soup is made with cheese-filled pasta, and it’s perfect for all occasions. Plus, it’s packed with nutrients and full of flavor.

Tortellini soup originated in Italy, and it’s been a popular dish for centuries. Today, it remains a favorite among Italians and food lovers around the world. And for good reason! Tortellini soup is healthy, hearty, and delicious.

The soup begins with a base of flavorful chicken broth, to which chopped vegetables, shredded chicken, and cheese tortellini are added. For a final touch of flavor, it is garnished with freshly grated parmesan cheese.

Minestrone

Minestrone is a hearty Italian soup that is typically made with a mix of vegetables, beans, and small pasta. The exact ingredients can vary depending on what is in season or what is available, but common additions include tomatoes, carrots, celery, and onions.

It is believed to have originated in the region of Tuscany, and the word itself comes from the Latin word for “mixture.” This soup is a great way to get your daily dose of vegetables, and it can also be a heart-healthy option if it is made without meat.

To make a vegetarian minestrone, simply sauté some chopped vegetables in olive oil before adding them to a pot of boiling water. Once the vegetables are cooked, add a can of diced tomatoes and some cooked beans or lentils.

Finally, stir in some small pasta such as shells or elbow macaroni. Let the soup simmer for 10 minutes or until the pasta is cooked. Season with salt, pepper, and parmesan cheese.

Carpaccio

Carpaccio is a dish of raw fish or meat that is thinly sliced and served as an appetizer. The dish is typically made with beef or tuna, but it can also be made with other ingredients such as vegetables or fruit. It is often served with a dressing of olive oil, lemon juice, and capers.

To make carpaccio, start by slicing the beef or tuna very thinly. Next, arrange the slices on a plate or platter. If desired, you can drizzle the carpaccio with olive oil or a light dressing. Finally, top the dish with capers, lemon juice, and freshly grated parmesan cheese.

Caprese Salad

Caprese salad is a simple Italian dish consisting of fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil. It is usually served as a starter or side dish and can be made in just a few minutes. In addition to being delicious, Caprese salad is also healthy. Tomatoes are a good source of antioxidants and vitamins A and C, while mozzarella is a low-fat cheese that provides protein and calcium.

To make the salad, start by slicing a ball of mozzarella cheese into thin slices. Then, wash and slice a handful of cherry tomatoes in half. Next, peel and chop a small cucumber into bite-sized pieces. Finally, assemble the salad by layering the cheese, tomatoes, and cucumber on a plate. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve with a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Friselle Pugliesi

Pugliese friselle is a type of Italian bread made with a simple dough of flour, water, salt, and yeast. Once the dough has risen, it is formed into small rounds and then cooked in a wood-fired oven.

The bread is then allowed to cool and dry in the sun before being dipped in water and baked again. This process gives the bread its distinctive hard and crunchy texture.

It is often served with a variety of toppings such as tomatoes, onions, olives, or cheese. A drizzle of olive oil, along with the moisture from the tomatoes softens the Frisella, but you can also add some fresh primosale and top it off with some chili flakes, torn basil, and a pinch of salt.

Risotto

Risotto is a classic Italian rice dish that, when cooked properly, is creamy and rich, with a slightly chewy texture. Risotto can be made with a variety of different ingredients, but it typically includes vegetables, broth, and parmesan cheese. While it may take some time to make risotto from scratch, the result is definitely worth the effort. Plus, risotto is relatively healthy, as it is low in fat and high in complex carbohydrates.

Start by sautéing chopped onion and garlic in olive oil until softened. Then, add rice and cook for a few minutes more. Next, slowly add chicken broth to the pan, stirring continually until the rice is fully cooked. Finally, stir in frozen peas and grated parmesan cheese. Serve immediately with a sprinkle of fresh parsley.

Stuffed Eggplant

Stuffed eggplant is a delicious and healthy side dish that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. The eggplant is first peeled and then hollowed out, creating a pocket for the filling. Common fillings include cheese, rice, ground meat, and vegetables. Once the eggplant is stuffed, it is baked in the oven until tender.

Served hot, stuffed eggplant is a hearty and satisfying dish that pairs well with many different main courses. In addition to being delicious, stuffed eggplant is also packed with nutrients. Eggplants are a good source of fiber and vitamins A, C, and K. They also contain antioxidants that can help protect against certain diseases.

Burrata Salad

Burrata salad is a simple and healthy side dish that can be enjoyed with any meal. The salad is made with fresh burrata cheese, diced tomatoes, olive oil, and basil. Burrata is a type of mozzarella that is soft and creamy, and pairs well with the fresh tomatoes and basil, making for a delicious and refreshing salad.

This salad is a good source of protein and healthy fats, and it is also low in carbohydrates. To make the salad, simply dice the tomatoes and cheese and mix them together in a bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Prosciutto Pastry

A simple and elegant side dish, ‘prosciutto pastry’ is made by folding thin slices of prosciutto ham into flaky puff pastry. The result is a light and flavorful parcel that can be served either hot or cold.

Regardless of how you prepare it, ‘prosciutto pastry’ makes an impressive and healthy addition to any meal. Puff pastry is relatively low in calories and fat, and prosciutto is an excellent source of protein.

This dish can also be easily customized to suit your individual tastes – simply swap out the prosciutto for another type of ham or use a different type of cheese. So next time you’re looking for a unique and healthful side dish, give ‘prosciutto pastry’ a try.

Stuffed Portobello Mushroom

Stuffed portobello mushrooms make an excellent side dish. They are easy to prepare and can be made ahead of time, making them perfect for busy weeknights. Plus, they are packed with nutrients and offer a variety of health benefits.

To make stuffed portobello mushrooms, simply remove the stem and gills from the mushroom caps and stuff them with your favorite filling. Common fillings include cheeses, vegetables, and meats. Once the mushrooms are stuffed, bake them in a preheated oven until tender. This dish can be served hot or cold, making it versatile enough to suit any meal.

Italian Garlic Bread

Garlic bread is a classic side dish that can be enjoyed with a variety of meals. It is simple to make, and only requires a few ingredients that are likely already in your kitchen. To make garlic bread, start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees.

Then, combine softened butter, garlic, parsley, and parmesan cheese in a small bowl. Spread the mixture evenly over a loaf of Italian bread, and bake for 10-15 minutes. The result is a delicious and fragrant side dish that is sure to please any garlic lover.

In addition to being delicious, garlic bread also offers some health benefits. Garlic is well-known for its immune-boosting properties and has even been shown to help lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of some cancers. Therefore, enjoy your garlic bread knowing that it is not only delicious but also good for you!

Frequently Asked Questions

For how long does mozzarella stay fresh?

Fresh mozzarella should be used within two days of purchase. Once the package is opened, the cheese will start to dry out and lose its flavor. Pre-packaged mozzarella can be stored in the fridge for up to two weeks after opening. Mozzarella can also be frozen, but it should be used within six months for the best quality.

Is prosciutto bad for your health?

The main issue with prosciutto is that it is very high in sodium. A single slice of prosciutto can have over 700mg of sodium, which is a significant portion of the recommended daily amount. This can lead to problems like high blood pressure and water retention.

Why are ‘Heirloom Tomatoes’ called that?

Unlike hybrid tomatoes, which are created by cross-breeding different varieties, heirlooms are open-pollinated, meaning that they will produce offspring that are true to their parent plant. So heirloom tomatoes are so named because they are varieties that have been passed down through generations.

Conclusion

Italy is home to a rich variety of traditional side dishes, each with its own unique flavor and history. Whether cooked in an ancient family recipe or served fresh from a local market stall, the above traditional Italian dishes are a delicious way to experience the true flavor of Italy. So next time you sit down to enjoy an Italian meal, be sure to cook one of these tantalizing side dishes. Your taste buds will thank you!

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