Looking for some ideas for an Italian dinner? Here are five recipes with ingredients you can easily find to enjoy a taste of Italy in your own home.
Sometimes you can’t visit Umbria, or any part of Italy. But if you’re looking for some simple and easy Italian food to make at home? Umbria has some great options. And you won’t even find these dishes in restaurants outside of Italy.
Umbria is full of easy recipes, using simple ingredients that are easy to recreate at home.
Local delicacies of Umbria include black truffles, prosciutto di Norcia and hazelnut filled chocolates. All of which you should taste when visiting Umbria, unless you’re a vegetarian in which case not the prosciutto.
It’s not what we dine on day-to-day. They’re expensive for Umbrians. We use many ingredients you’ll have at home.
4 Italian dinner Ideas (Plus one Dessert)
This is a list of traditional recipes from Umbria. Not the dessert, you’ll find it all over Italy. I’ve learnt all of them from my husband and mother-in-law: a chickpea soup, flatbread sandwich, pasta with a sausage sauce, a lentil dish and a simple dessert.
1. An Italian soup recipe for a Quick and Easy Dinner
Italian dinner Ideas number one: chickpeas.
Chickpeas are considered a staple for the Mediterranean diet. But how many recipes for Italian dishes do you know that call for them? Luckily, most of us have chickpeas at home for making hummus. But that isn’t great for colder days. Italians have a warm comfort food involving chickpeas.
A simple, but versatile soup made with chickpeas. A quick and easy dinner. Without extras this soup is a gluten-free vegan dish with tons of flavour. But it’s a very flexible dish, make it a pasta dish, or add shrimp, mushrooms or bacon if you have them.
Find my recipe for this soup here.
2. An Authentic Italian Pasta Recipe: Pasta alla Norcina
This is probably the most famous Umbrian pasta dish in Italy.
The sauce is made from sausage, ricotta and garlic. If you don’t have ricotta feel free to use cream, that’s what many do in Italy. I like it with sheep ricotta, it can feel heavy with cream.
Just make sure to use short pasta, my preference is for farfalla, or butterfly pasta.
3. Stove Top Baking: Torta al Testo the Umbrian Sandwich
The second idea for an Italian dinner? An Umbrian sandwich. Made with a simple flatbread that you can fill it with all sorts options.
If you’re in Umbria, you won’t always see it with the name Torta al Testo. Different cities call it different things. In Perugia it’s called Torta al Testo, which is a misnomer. In Italian, Torta means cake. So calling a savory flatbread cake is a bit confusing. In Gubbio it’s called Crescia. And in Citta di Castello it’s called Ciaccia.
To make the flatbread you’ll need a big enough griddle, that’s hopefully round. Something for cooking pancakes or crepes should be perfect.
Once cooked and cut in wedges like a pizza, cut them in half and fill it with grilled vegetables, cheese, cooked spinach and sausage, or cooked or cured ham.
Do you have some leftover and craving something sweet? Umbrians will then add some nutella for dessert!
4. A Simple Italian Recipe for Lentils
Lentils are an important staple in Umbria.
This is a basic recipe, carrots, onions, a bay leaf. You’ll usually see it served with sausages, Umbrians love their pork, but it isn’t necessary.
And with a torta al testo. Most stews, like a wild boar stew, would be served with torta al testo.
You’ll see this dish served everywhere in Umbria for New Year’s eve because lentils bring good luck.
5. An Easy Italian Dessert Recipe: La Crostata
Not an idea for an Italian dinner, it’s more for an Italian breakfast. Eating cake for breakfast is not considered odd. Or maybe you want an easy Italian dessert that isn’t Tiramisu.
You’ll find crostata served in homes, restaurants and bars all over Italy. And it’s great. A less crumbly shortbread crust with jam. Indulgent, but not crazy with calories or sweetness.
Extra: An Easy Italian Dinner Idea (Not from Umbria) Pesto
Do you have a jar of pesto that you’re planning on using for dinner? Pasta with pesto in Italy is considered from Genoa, or Genova.
I love pesto, and can’t wait for warm weather each year so we can make our own.
But I was surprised what was included with pasta with pesto when I first came to Italy. Because it isn’t just pasta covered in a pesto sauce.
The traditional pesto dish has a potato and green beans in as well.
Roughly chop one potato into smallish cubes and add it to the salted boiling water a few minutes before the pasta. Clean up the green beans and add them with the pasta-or later on if you want them to be crunchier.
The potato gives the dish more starchy creaminess. The beans add a vegetable and another texture. All together it creates a more decadent and interesting dish, and in a healthier way.
My Italian Dinner Ideas
While all the recipes are simple some of them do need a bit of planning. But it’s worth it.
Planning on a glass of wine with dinner? Umbrian dishes pair best with big bold reds. Especially the lentils and pasta alla Norcina.
In fact the boldest red there is comes from Umbria, the Sagrantino grape which is only grown in Montefalco. If you’re interested in learning more I’ve written a post all about Umbrian wines.
On the other hand, the pesto works best with a white wine.
Have a great meal, and if you have any questions please write a comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org