A Full Course Italian Meal

Traditional Italian cooking consists of several courses including the antipasti, the first course, the second course and you can add dessert to finish off your meal. Let’s take a look at each part of the meal and some recipes you can try right at home.

Like many other ethnic cuisines, Italian cooking features many staples that are often used in various combinations within the various recipes and are stocked as a manner of course. Some this includes meats and seafood such as Parma ham, anchovies, tuna, clams, and pancetta.

Rice, beans, and pastas are of course a large part of the daily diet along with many different herbs. Also, it can’t be cooked Italian style without a good dosing of cheese. Some of these (there are many others) include parmesan (not from a tube), mozzarella, ricotta, gorgonzola, and mascarpone.

Antipasti

When you are planning your meal, it would be fun to serve it as it would be served in an Italian home or restaurant. Start with the antipasti, or appetizer. Antipasti means “before the meal” and has been a major part of Italian cuisine and culture for many of centuries. Any dish, whether hot or cold, that is served before the first course is the antipasti and can be a salad, soup or small dish. Here is a simple antipasti recipe to start off your Italian meal.

Bread and Tomatoe Soup | Foodal.com
Bread and Tomato Soup
Votes: 12
Rating: 3.75
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A nice Italian bread and tomato soup to present as "Antipasti" or as an appetizer before any main course is served.
Bread and Tomatoe Soup | Foodal.com
Bread and Tomato Soup
Votes: 12
Rating: 3.75
You:
Rate this recipe!
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A nice Italian bread and tomato soup to present as "Antipasti" or as an appetizer before any main course is served.
Ingredients
  • 1 lb two-day old crusty Italian bread
  • 2 lb ripe plum tomatoes
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves crushed
  • 2 1/2 cups boiling water
  • 1/2 cup cream or milk optional
  • 1 bunch fresh basil
  • Salt and Pepper
  • extra virgin olive oil to serve
Servings:
Units:
Instructions
  1. Cut the bread into cubes and let it dry out for 30 minutes. Peel the tomatoes and cut into chunks.
  2. In a large pan, heat the olive oil and then add garlic and cook over medium heat for 1 minute without browning. Add tomatoes and cook on low for 20-30 minutes until mixture is thick.
  3. Add bread and stir until liquid is absorbed. Next, stir in boiling water until mixture is thick and soupy. Optionally substitute 1/2 cup of water fro cream or milk (depending on your tolerance for additional calories vs. taste). Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Remove basil leaves from stems and tear into little pieces. Mix basil into soup.
  5. Serve the soup warm and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.
Recipe Notes

Breand and Tomato Soup to serve as "Antipasti" | Foodal.com

 

First Course

In Italian, the first course is called primo piatto. Usually, the primo piatto is made up of a dish made up of grain such as pasta, risotto gnocchi or polenta. Some popular pasta dishes are Spaghetti Bolognese, Spinach Cannelloni and Lasagna al Forno.

Gnocchi are light dumplings made with mashed potatoes and flour or just flour. Usually, these dumplings are flavored with some type of cheese or spinach but sometimes chicken. Risotto is usually made with short-grain rice. This dish can be made with fish or seafood as well.

Polenta is created with cornmeal and water. You can enjoy polenta as a fried, broiled or baked cake that can be mixed with cheese. Here is a delicious saffron infused first course recipe that can follow your antipasti.

Chicken Risotto with Saffron | Foodal.com
Chicken Risotto with Saffron
Votes: 7
Rating: 2.71
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A nice risotto to serve as a warm up to a main course in an Italian inspired meal.
Servings
6 people
Servings
6 people
Chicken Risotto with Saffron | Foodal.com
Chicken Risotto with Saffron
Votes: 7
Rating: 2.71
You:
Rate this recipe!
Print Recipe
A nice risotto to serve as a warm up to a main course in an Italian inspired meal.
Servings
6 people
Servings
6 people
Ingredients
  • 5 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 lb skinless boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 2 1/4 cups risotto rice
  • 2/3 cup white wine
  • 1 teaspoon crumbled saffron threads
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • Salt and Pepper
Servings: people
Units:
Instructions
  1. Boil chicken stock in a pan and then reduce heat and continue to simmer.
  2. While chicken stock is simmering heat 4 tablespoons of butter in deep pan. Add chicken and onion and cook for 8 minutes stirring frequently.
  3. Add the rice and mix to coat the butter and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add wine and cook for 1 minute stirring continuously.
  4. Take out 4 tablespoons of the hot stock and mix with the saffron. Add the stock-saffron mixture into the rice and cook until absorbed.
  5. Add the remaining hot stock slowly a little bit at a time until the rice absorbs each addition. Cook for 20 minutes until all of the stock has been absorbed into the rice. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Remove from heat and add remaining butter and most of the Parmesan cheese until melted into mixture. Serve immediately and sprinkle the remaining Parmesan cheese on top of the dish.
Recipe Notes

Chicken Risotto with Saffron | Foodal.com

 

Second Course

The second course, or secondo piatto, is the part of the meal that usually consists of meat and fish. The course might include steak, roasts, braises, lamb and chicken. Chicken is a very common ingredient used in the secondo piatto and generally, every part of the chicken can be used in creating the meal.

From Chicken alla Cacciatora to Tuna Fillets with Porcini, the second course has the potential to be an amazing creation. Try this second course recipe following your first course.

Beef braised in red wine | Foodal.com
Beef Braised in Red Wine
Votes: 8
Rating: 3.5
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As a main course for an authentic Italian dinner, this beef dish braised in red wine is sure to please the entire family.
Servings
6 people
Servings
6 people
Beef braised in red wine | Foodal.com
Beef Braised in Red Wine
Votes: 8
Rating: 3.5
You:
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As a main course for an authentic Italian dinner, this beef dish braised in red wine is sure to please the entire family.
Servings
6 people
Servings
6 people
Ingredients
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 onions finely sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves chopped
  • 2 lb braised beef cut into thick strips
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cups red wine
  • 2 fresh sprigs of sage
  • 1 cup beef or vegetable stock
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley to garnish
Servings: people
Units:
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 300° degrees F. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet, then add the onions and garlic and cook over medium heat for 6-8 minutes stirring constantly. With a slotted spoon, remove and transfer to a casserole dish.
  2. Heat the remaining oil in a skillet. Add beef and cook over high heat for 3-4 minutes until browned. Sprinkle in flour and stir to prevent any lumps from forming. Season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat and stir in wine. Bring to a boil and stir frequently.
  3. Move the contents into the casserole dish and then add sage, stock and tomato paste. Cover and cook in the center of the oven for 2 1/2 -3 hours.
  4. Remove from oven and discard the sage. Add salt and pepper if needed and sprinkle with parsley.
Recipe Notes

Beef braised in red wine | Foodal.com

 

Dessert

Italian dessert is usually very simple like a fresh bowl of fruit. Often enough, more intricate desserts are made following a tasty meal including Zuccotto and Sicilian Cassata. Zuccotto is a molded dessert that is in the shape of a dome and it is created with ladyfingers soaked in liquor and filled with almonds, whipped cream and chocolate.

Italian families while celebrating, or even on a Sunday afternoon enjoy all sorts of cakes and pastries. After a delicious antipasti, first and second course, the dessert can really finish of the meal. Try this quick Tiramisu recipe.

Quick Tiramisu | Foodal.com
Quick Tiramisu
Votes: 10
Rating: 3.7
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A quick tiramisu recipe that you can put together quickly so that you can focus more time on the main course.
Quick Tiramisu | Foodal.com
Quick Tiramisu
Votes: 10
Rating: 3.7
You:
Rate this recipe!
Print Recipe
A quick tiramisu recipe that you can put together quickly so that you can focus more time on the main course.
Ingredients
  • 1 cup mascarpone cheese or soft cheese
  • 1 egg* separated
  • 2 tablespoons plain yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons superfine sugar
  • 2 tablespoons dark rum
  • 2 tablespoons cold strong black coffee
  • 8 ladyfingers
  • 2 tablespoons grated semisweet chocolate
Servings:
Units:
Instructions
  1. Beat together mascarpone cheese, egg yolk, and yogurt in a large bowl.
  2. Whip the egg white in a separate bowl until stiff and then beat in the sugar. Next, fold egg white mixture into the cheese mixture. Divide half of this mixture into four sundae glasses.
  3. Mix together coffee and rum and then dip ladyfingers in to the rum mixture. Break the ladyfingers in half or smaller pieces in needed and divide into the glasses.
  4. Stir any remaining coffee mixture into the remaining cheese mixture and divide into the glasses.
  5. Sprinkle with grated chocolate and serve or cover and chill in refrigerator.
Recipe Notes

Tiramisu | Foodal.com

 

Now you have an entire Italian meal with all the appropriate courses. You can easily substitute any of these recipes with other meals found in that particular course. Remember, before you start any meal, research any preparation times as well as cooking times. In the case of this meal, the braised beef takes almost 3 hours.

Therefore, this dish should be prepared first while the rest of the meal is being prepared. With that being said, you can enjoy authentic Italian cuisine the way it should be enjoyed. Buon Appetito!

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About Lynne Jaques

Lynne is a stay-at-home mother of two boys. As a former US military officer and the spouse of an active duty US military member, Lynne enjoys traveling the world (although not the moving part!) and finding new cuisine and methods of preparing food. She also has the habit of using parenthesis way too much!

28 thoughts on “A Full Course Italian Meal”

  1. Oh I am absolutely dying to try these recipes. I just got back a few weeks ago from 4 months in Italy and I am missing their meals so much!! This is going to be perfect for me to turn to when I am missing the food of my favorite country!

  2. I would like to make one suggestion. Try to par cook the chicken before hand and give it a nice browning for the millard reactions and then then add the chicken later during the last addition of stock to finish cooking it.

    The tiramisu recipe is quite interesting! I never thought of adding yogurt to it or grated chocolate instead of coco powder.

  3. These all look absolutely delicious! The beef braised in red wine looks fantastic. Even though the listed serving size is for six people, I would love to serve this as a romantic dinner for two. I’ve never made tiramisu before so I am a little nervous to try it out, but the directions seem easy enough to understand and follow. This is definitely a menu made to impress!

  4. Thanks for sharing so many comprehensive recipes! Personally I don’t think I would have the patience, time or willpower to prepare a full course meal, but I’ll definitely be trying some of your recipes. The tiramisu in particular looks heavenly!

  5. That beef dish looks delicious – I’ll have to remember it for next winter.

    This description of Italian meals reminds me a wedding I went to some years ago. We had the antipasti and then were served some lasagne. To be honest, we thought the serves were a bit small and ate every crumb. We didn’t realise that the main meat dish was to follow, along with a desert and then seafood platters piled with prawns! The small lasagne serves made more sense with hindsight!

  6. I can never eat a full Italian course, but would have the antipasti and bread and then a primo with a contorni (side order) and leave room for dessert.

    Tomato and basil soup is a classic, made well and with good bread it is a meal in itself and importantly, it’s low in fat and freshly made and vegetarian. It does take some patience, but is worth it. I skip a second course so I have room for dessert, always!

  7. All of these dishes sound so amazing. I have been looking for a really good sounding homemade tomato soup and this one is it. I will be making this for my family this weekend. I don’t know that I would be able to eat a seven course meal however, since I always have to save room for desert. There is nothing better than ending a great meal with a delectable desert. Thanks for the recipes, I can’t wait to try them.

  8. You make it look so easy to serve a four course meal, wow! Braised beef and tiramisu have to be my favorite Italian dishes; my nonna makes them for me every time I visit…Thanks for the post, I’d love to see you post full course meals for other cuisines too!

  9. Italian cooking is often simple yet appetizing. The tiramisu looks divine. I’ve tried several recipes, but most of them can’t bring out any authentic flavor. Your recipe looks promising. I love how every bite melts in my mouth with a rich flavors.

    Even though it isn’t listed here, I’d probably serve pasta with these dishes. It’s just because I don’t feel my table would be complete without it. Still this full course meal is mouthwatering.

  10. I have began planning and executing how to make my trip to Italy instead of sitting in the kitchen and make epic fails!…i don’t debate, the recipes look awesome and simple to do, but my heart is stirred within…that trip will be made, i have heard and read so much about Italy….Italy must be heaven then 😉

    • How can i forget, the tiramisu looks heavenly…the first time i indulged, i became hooked, i never knew rum is used in the whole set up…a combination of rum, strong black coffee, sugar, chocolate!…hence the addiction!…you don’t want to experience withdrawal symptoms afterwards!..no regrets! ;).

  11. Those plates all look very appealing to me,especially the Beef Braised in Red Wine. What a fantastic dish to look at. I can only imagine the sensational smell coming from it. All of the ingredients that go into making it are just right up my alley. I’m going to borrow this recipe. Thanks for the post!

  12. I love this menu plan! Everything looks so good. Italian food is always a favorite around here. I’ve never made tiramisu before so I’m kind of intimidated but will try it out. Thank you for the recipes.

  13. I’d argue that a nice contorno of roasted vegetables would be the last touch to an Italian meal! Eggplant and zucchinis would go great along the second dish, I think. Your recipes look amazing! Do you think it’s possible to have curcuma (tercuma?) instead of saffron in the risotto? I just cannot find this at my local market.

  14. Such wonderful recipes. I don’t know which I want to try first. As tempting as it is to try it all in one go, I know it will be very complicated for me. I have always loved Italian cooking!

  15. Tiramisu is probably one of my favorite Italian desserts ever. I always had trouble with it being kind of wet though. This looks like a good recipe to try.

  16. Fot the first time in my life, I have come across an Italian dinner plan that does not include pasta! Thanks for showing that there’s a great deal more to Italian cuisine than pasta and pizza!

  17. Italian cuisine is great to eat, but from a cooking perspective, it’s one of my favorites! I don’t know what it is about it, but although I may enjoy eating, say, Indian cuisine more, there’s something about cooking Italian that puts it ahead of the rest. If you want a really nice primo, try Spaghetti alla Carbonara (or any pasta alla carbonara for that matter). It’s a really light but flavorful way to do your pasta, but it’s a bit tricky, because it involves mixing your freshly cooked pasta with a sauce based in raw egg, and using the residual heat to cook the egg. That may make some people nervous, but I seemed to hit it out of the park the first time. You can’t over-mix, however, as you’ll end up with Spaghetti alla Scrambled Eggs if you do. I find it’s a bit easier if you add the pasta to the sauce, as opposed to adding the sauce to the pasta.

  18. I’ve been wanting to make tomato soup from scratch, and this looks like a great recipe to try. I also like that your tiramisu is made in individual dishes, since that helps with portion control. I haven’t made a full Italian meal in a while, and this sounds like a nice change for Sunday family dinner.

  19. I love recipes like these that don’t require too many ingredients. Quick and simple. This looks great, almost like Chinese. I love meat and vegetable combinations. This would be great with steamed broccoli and carrots I bet too.

  20. This is REALLY a full course Italian meal. Thank you so much for these amazing recipes. In my household we sometimes hold Mexican night, pizza night, or Chinese food night, and these dishes are perfect to have the perfect Saturday Italian night. The Tiramisu looks decadent, and the best part is that its so easy to make. I can’t wait to give all these recipes a try. Thanks again!

  21. These options all sound like the makings of an incredibly delicious meal. I’ve never had an authentic Italian meal before. The information about the original meanings of the words for the official courses are also very interesting.

  22. Just looking at the pictures is making me hungry! I love Italian food. The fusion of their traditional flavors just cannot be compared for taste. These are some real tasty and simple recipes that I can use. Thanks.

  23. The meal plan is amazing. As I live alone, and don’t do much entertaining – I think I can’t afford to do a full course meal. The antipasti and the first course will more than suit me. As to the braised beef, it truly looked delicious but I have not eaten beef in a long while. I’ve decided to cut it out of my diet for health reasons. The tiramisu is a must try for a pastry lover like me.

  24. This is a fantastic, thorough description of the Italian meal. My uncle, whom I was very close with, just passed away. He was Italian and loved cook Italian cuisine and entertain. Ever since he passed, I’ve been interested in the culture and carrying on his traditions. I’m Pinning this now!!

  25. Italian is my favourite food and I would eat all of the suggestions you have offered up. It all looks and sounds absolutely mouth-watering. I wouldn’t cook this for myself, of course, but it would definitely have the wow factor for a dinner party and it would definitely be at the top of my menu choices!

  26. I’m italian and I have to compliment you on doing such a great job with the recipes, they are spot on. Those are some of my favorite dishes, I love risotto with saffron and Tiramisù is one of my favorite desserts ever. I have never tried out the version with yogurt but I was curious about it and by looking at your picture I’m sure it’s delicious!
    You managed to introduce a full italian meal and you picked very good recipes, it’s good to read about italian recipes that don’t involve the usual pasta or pizza based dishes. If I may suggest it, most of the italians love to have a digestive drink after their meal, like amaro, grappa or limoncello.

  27. These look amazing. I have foodie friends coming to visit and I may give it a try. Please tell me if the beef is served with veg??

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