These Italian side dishes are simple and delicious! There’s something for everyone in these ideas for rounding out an Italian style meal.
Making an Italian style dinner? Try these Italian side dishes: simple ways to round out an Italian inspired meal. This list contains some traditional Italian side dishes or dishes made in the authentic Italian way, and then some Italian Americanrecipes like garlic bread and salad with Italian dressing. So whether you’re going for a traditional, authentic vibe or a good old Italian American lasagna dinner: we’ve got something for you!
A classic Italian appetizer or side dish? Caprese salad or insalata caprese, which means “the salad from Capri.” It’s a simple salad of fresh tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and basil leaves, seasoned with salt and pepper. Like pizza margherita, each of the ingredients corresponds to the colors of the Italian flag: red, white and green.
Italian dressing isn't classic Italian, but an American Italian invention to approximate the tangy vinaigrette-style dressings customary in Italy. This crunchy salad features homemade Italian dressing that's tangy, savory, and herby. Add to that shallots, tomatoes, cucumber, and a zing from pepperoncini. Parmesan cheese seals the deal.
Cannellini beans are an Italian white bean that’s oval shaped, with a creamy texture and mild flavor. White beans are a great side dish for an Italian meal, especially to round it out with filling protein. You’ll be amazed at the flavor you can coax out of one can of beans in just a few minutes. Throw it together in a skillet with a few spices and it tastes like it’s been simmering all day.
Garlic bread is another Italian American invention, but it's a great side dish for an Italian-style meal. This easy garlic bread recipe has the perfect savory, garlicky flavor. It’s tender on the inside and crunchy on top from broiling it with Parmesan cheese
In Italy, risotto is most often served as a first course, but it can work as a side dish for chicken or fish in an Italian-style meal. Risotto is an Italian rice dish of short-grain rice cooked in broth until its creamy and velvety. Flavored with garlic, Parmesan cheese and a splash of white wine, it tastes luxuriously glamorous: but the concept is incredibly simple.
This simple arugula salad is made in the traditional Italian style: simple, quality ingredients and big flavors. Plus, did you know arugula has been around since ancient Rome? Toss this baby green together with lemon and Parmesan shavings for a quick and beautiful side dish.
Chard, also called Swiss chard, is a leafy green vegetable used in Mediterranean style cuisine. Its large leaves are used in many Italian style dishes like sauteed as a side dish, in pasta, or on pizza. This sauteed chard is made in the Italian way: cooked with garlic and topped with Parmesan and toasted pinenuts.
Farro is a grain that's been a staple in Italian cuisine for centuries. This farro with mushrooms is bursting with flavor from the savory mushrooms, garlic, and fresh thyme and oregano. Add a spritz of fresh lemon juice and some grated Parmesan cheese to take it over the top.
If your meal doesn't already include pasta, angel hair pasta is a great Italian side dish. These delicate noodles are very quick to cook (think 4 minutes!). Learn how to cook them right, and they come out fluffy and perfectly seasoned: ideal for pairing with shrimp, chicken or veggie mains.
Fennel orange salad is an Italian classic, served with an without leafy greens. It features beautiful juicy oranges, with their vibrant color and citrusy flavor. Add to that a famous pairing: sliced raw fennel, which adds a subtle licorice essence. Throw it over greens with a few garnishes, top with a zingy homemade citrus vinaigrette, and wow! It's great for pairing with rich Italian dishes like lasagna or baked pasta.
Raw fennel has a crunch and black licorice flavor, making it perfect for salads. But its roasted self is something different altogether: it becomes sweet and caramelized: almost like roasted onions but even more irresistible! Baked fennel makes easy and elegant side dish, especially for an Italian meal.
Another great Italian side dish is endive salad, equal parts refreshing, tangy, bitter, crunchy, and tangy! Bitter endive pairs perfectly with juicy orange and a sweet tart red wine vinaigrette. Top it off with savory Parmesan shavings and crunchy almonds, and the contrasts are divine. Each bite is crunchy, sweet, savory and citrusy
Here’s a quick Italian side dish: Pesto Gnocchi! Get this: you don’t even need to boil the gnocchi! Cook up these Italian potato dumplings right in a skillet and they cook right in the sauce, helping to thicken it as they release starch. Stir in purchased pesto and you’ve got a bright and herbaceous sauce: in just 10 minutes total
This roasted eggplant is an Italian side dish that's full of flavor! Roasting until it’s tender makes for unreal savory flavor. Take one bite and you’ll be singing it’s praises too (promise!). It’s simply seasoned, with salt, pepper, garlic, and basil.
This Italian salad is staunchly Italian American, but it's great for an Italian-style meal. It’s full of all the right flavors and textures: crisp lettuce, crunchy garlic croutons, and zingy pepperoncini. It’s covered in punchy, herby Italian vinaigrette that makes the flavors sing! And shaved Parmesan seals the deal.
More Italian recipes
Inspired by Italian-style meals? Here are a few more recipe collections you might enjoy:
Top with torn mozzarella cheese and basil leaves. Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil. If desired, drizzle with balsamic reduction. Top with sea salt and fresh ground pepper. Serve immediately. (Does not save well; tomatoes should not be stored refrigerated.)