So, you’ve been to Italy. I can’t blame you, it’s a beautiful country with gently sloping hills and grasslands which are bathed in rich sunlight for days and days on end. The thing I love most about Italy is the delicious food. When I went, I wanted to bring home as many Italian recipes as I could, so I had a little notebook that I’d take to dinner with me to note things down. These are my greatest hits that I bought back home, I hope you have as much success with them as I have!
Cacio e Pepe Potato Gnocchi
Did someone say comfort food? This is the most perfect comfort food recipe I’ve ever come across, and I make it whenever I get the chance.
If someone were to ask you what your idea of comfort food was, I’d be willing to bet you’d say something cheesy and packed with carbs. That’s exactly what this is!
Gnocchi is a type of Italian dumpling made from potato, egg, and flour. It’s delicious when eaten alone, let alone when it’s paired with a sauce like cacio e pepe.
Cacio e pepe translates to cheese and pepper, and those are, basically, the only ingredients. Once you’ve cooked your gnocchi (homemade or otherwise), you can melt some butter in a large, deep skillet. Then, add in the gnocchi and mix until they’re coated in butter. Season with several cranks of a pepper mill, and add in your choice of cheese. Typically, parmesan and pecorino are used, but you can use whatever you’d like.
Then, serve it warm with a little extra parmesan. Wearing wooly socks and watching your favorite film is recommended, but not mandatory.
This is one of my favorites for one key reason: there’s so much you can do with it.
Let’s start by discussing the ragu – the red, meaty sauce. Traditionally, beef is used, but for more flavor, you could swap that out (in part or wholly) for sausage meat. That will give your final dish more flavor, lifting the final meal.
There are two main schools of thought when preparing a white sauce for a lasagna – bechamel or cheese mix. Personally, I flip flop between the two: they both have their perks!
Using a bechamel sauce is sure to mean you end up with a richer, creamier final dish. The gooiness of the bechamel will help to cut through the acidity of the tomatoes, leaving you with a decadent, rich baked pasta dish.
Using a cheese mix is more traditional. Typically, a mix of ricotta, mozzarella, and parmesan is used. When balanced well, you end up with a cheese mix that’s both rich and sharp at the same time. This works well with the tomatoes too, as the sharpness of the parmesan can match the tang of the tomatoes.
Whatever choices you decide to go for with your lasagna, it’s hard to go wrong with a baked pasta dish. It works great as a winter warmer or served in a small portion alongside some salad during the summer. 
This is a very traditional Italian pasta recipe which I haven’t seen very much locally. That said, it’s a huge favorite of mine! The sauce is so incredibly fragrant and flavorful, I could have it for dinner every night of the week. I would have terrible breath, but I would be eating like a king!
The sauce is made by combining a number of pungent ingredients, including garlic, anchovies, black olives, and capers. This means that you end up with an incredibly potent and powerful sauce. The saltiness and sharpness of those ingredients mean that you’re sure to end up with a show-stopper.
The amazing thing about this recipe, from my point of view, anyway, is that the acid and salt overload still works in spite of how aggressive it all is. They marry very well with a sweetness in the tomatoes, as well as the richness of a heavy-handed parmesan topping. This is a true favorite of mine, try it for dinner tonight! 
I absolutely love Italian food, and these are some of my favorite go-to’s when I’m not sure what to cook. On your way home from work tonight, pop by the grocery store and see if you can’t rustle up a decadent, classic Italian meal.