There are two schools of Carbonara thoughts: cream and no cream. This recipe uses the traditional method, where the creaminess comes from the lightly whisked eggs tossed through the pasta just before serving, rather than actually added cream.
Possibly the best known Italian pasta sauce, bolognese could be translated into English as “bowl of comfort”. Where spaghetti bolognese is popular outside Italy, you'll struggle to find it within the country—it's usually served with gnocchi or larger, flatter pasta like tagliatelle, pappardelle or fettuccine. There are endless variations on the Bolognese theme, and this one is unique in the addition of pork ribs to the sauce while it's brewing, for a rich, meaty flavour.
Authorities in Amatrice, the home of the amatriciana sauce, declare its six official ingredients as guanciale (pork jowl), pecorino cheese, white wine, tomatoes (to be precise, tomatoes from San Marzano), pepper and chilli. This version omits the wine and adds some onion and garlic for flavour depth.
These days, pesto has come to loosely mean a blend of herbs or leafy vegetables and nuts, with ingredients including everything from kale to miso paste. Classic Italian pesto combines olive oil, basil, pine nuts, parmesan cheese, and hails from Genoa, where the best basil in Italy is said to grow.
We all know the meaning of the name - "Prostitute's Sauce" - but how exactly the name came to be is less certain. Fans of salty flavours will love the combination of olives, anchovies and capers that characterise this quick and flavourful sauce.
6. Alla Norma
Chunks of juicy eggplant and pockets of creamy ricotta are the defining features of the tomato-based Alla Norma sauce. If you need some extra dinner table chat, the recipe was created by an Italian chef and dedicated fan of 19th-century Italian composer Vincenzo Bellini, and named after his famous operatic aria called “Norma".
Briny clams, spicy fresh red chilli and fragrant parsley come together in this classic Neapolitan pasta, which can just about be whipped up in less time than it takes your guests to have their first glass of wine. The secret to this Italian recipe is in the timing—start cooking the vongole just after the water for the pasta comes to the boil.
8. Cacio e Pepe
An incredibly simple pasta dish out there - just cheese, butter and black pepper - but one with incredible results. The surprising creaminess comes from adding a little water used to cook the spaghetti, with the starch combining with the cheese to make creamy magic.
Marinara is vibrant red and fairly chunky tomato sauce that is essential for an Italian food repertoire. It's quick to prepare and has a bright, fresh flavour that lends itself to many different pasta varieties, from gnocchi to baked ziti.
The aroma of the ramps (wild onions), morels and sweet butter in this dish scream spring, and you'll find yourself lingering over every bite. Don’t be tempted to add cheese, either. It will only sully an otherwise crisp and clean dish. Also, don’t skip this recipe if, for some odd reason, you don’t like mushrooms. The ramp pasta itself, which lasts for a couple days in the fridge, is just as good with butter and cheese; yes, this is the place for grated pecorino or parmesan.
Somewhat like pizzocheri, where taleggio and cabbage are involved, this is a rib-sticking pasta dish that’s big on flavour.
This recipes looks to the flavours of our Southern Italian friends. Traditionally, pork is seasoned with fennel seeds that have an almost aniseed-like, slightly sweet flavour, and dried chilli. This particularly excellent flavour combination also happens to be one of my favourites. To make this rustic, easy to whip up dish, I’ve suggested the use of casarecce, a short dried pasta originally from Sicily that curls in on itself, but do feel free to use any other pasta you think may be appropriate.