Italian cuisine is one of the tastiest, and healthiest cuisines in the world.
Italian food is full of flavor. It’s fresh and often very simple to make. If you’re looking for some healthy Italian dishes, that still taste amazing, you’ve come to the right place. The good thing is that most Italian food is healthy, and it’s all about moderation.
Healthiest Italian Dish Ingredients
Make sure to include these healthy ingredients when cooking an authentic Italian dish:
Cheese is welcomed, in moderation. Eggs and fish are welcome, in moderation. Dairy is welcomed, in moderation. You get the picture? You can enjoy all the tastiest foods on the planet, as long as you don’t overindulge.
Italian cuisines focus primarily on fresh vegetables, fruit, olive oil. Fish and eggs are consumed around three times a week, while poultry is only recommended once a week.
Lots of herbs, too… but not many “spices,” per se. Rosemary, oregano, fresh parsley, and fresh basil are all healthy and great tasting.
When it comes to fats, you do not have to avoid them. Extra virgin olive oil is considered the holy grail. Not only is it delicious, but it’s very healthy.
If you can purchase extra virgin olive oil over ordinary virgin olive oil, then please do. Extra virgin olive oil undergoes the least processing, which means little to no chemicals and heat. This means the nutrients are still in tack, compared to other variations of the olive oil.
A lot of people think that you cannot eat pasta if you’re trying to eat healthily. This is a mistake. All food is good if you are prioritizing moderation. You can also opt for wholewheat pasta if you are wanting to consume extra fiber.
With that said, let’s check out the 7 healthiest Italian dishes!
Panzanella is a dish from Tuscany.
It is a healthy salad, that features bread and tomato. It’s made with fresh tomato, fresh basil, cucumber, and leftover bread. Furthermore, it has a very simple dressing of extra virgin olive oil and vinegar. It’s a very fresh dish, which is popular in the summer months.
Due to its high content of watery vegetables, it is very refreshing. The bread is also an excellent component. Not only does it add a wonderful crunchy texture, but it adds extra calories to an otherwise very-low-calorie dish. While some may prefer a salad without bread, it’s crucial to have enough calories to sustain good health.
Originally, Panzanella was a peasant dish. It was a dish made by farmers, who made the dish with their produce, to keep them full while working. The bread was a very nifty component, as the carbohydrate kept them fuller for longer.
The next healthiest Italian dish is called caponata, and it originated in Sicily.
Caponata is a delicious eggplant dish. It’s a type of salad, but with a unique twist, as it has a sweet and sour sauce. The eggplant is served warm, and it also contains capers, onions, celery. Other vegetables can be added to this salad, as there is no standard recipe, just lots of delicious variations.
You may find some recipes, or restaurants, including pine nuts, olives, and raisins. You might even get caponata dishes that involve fish.
Our next healthy Italian dish is minestrone soup. Minestrone soup is such a beloved dish, that a lot of people forget that it originates from Italy.
If you don’t know, minestrone soup features tubular pasta shells or macaroni shells. It also contains onions, carrots, celery, tomatoes, and garlic. In most recipes, kale and kidney beans are added too. The good thing about minestrone soup is that you can add vegetables you like, and deduct vegetables you don’t like.
As it is full of nutritious vegetables, it is one of the healthiest Italian dishes you can make. If you’re looking to add a side dish, include a salad, or a fresh slice of bread.
Tagliatelle al ragù alla Bolognese
Our next healthy Italian recipe is Tagliatelle al ragù alla Bolognese.
You might be surprised to see this recipe on our list, given that it’s a classic and beloved staple in America. However, classic Italian bolognese is much healthier than the Americanized version.
In Italy, fresh tomatoes and canned tomatoes are used, along with herbs, to create the tomato sauce. It is very uncommon to use a store-bought marinara sauce. It is not as healthy, as it’s full of sugar and perseveres. Also, it is far nicer homemade.
To make your dish even healthier, you can include vegetables, instead of just using mince. You could add celery, mushrooms, olives, and capers. You can pretty much add anything you would like, but try not to overly adjust the recipe — after all, it is a classic.
Another healthy Italian dish is eggplant Parmesan.
If you’ve ever tried eggplant Parmesan in a restaurant, then it’s probably been deep-fried and covered to the brim in cheese.
Eggplant absorbs oil very easily, which is why when you deep-fry it, it becomes incredibly greasy. However, you do not have to deep-fry eggplant Parmesan, there are other great alternatives.
If you want to create a healthier alternative, you could cook the eggplant parmesan in the oven, opposed to deep-frying the eggplant. You could also broil the eggplant, and avoid breading it. If you want to get rid of the cheese, you can certainly do that, but you don’t have to.
You could just opt for a smaller amount of cheese. Use one layer, instead of many layers, to make it healthier.
And by the way, the “Parmesan” (in Italian, Parmigiano) is ONLY for eggplant. It is not for chicken, veal, or god forbid, shrimp. These bastardizations are Italian-American creations and are never found in Italy.
Our next healthy Italian dish is lasagna.
The great thing about lasagna is that it can be made deliciously healthy, or incredibly (and deliciously) unhealthy. Lasagna is a popular favorite, and for good reason. It’s indulgent, creamy, and comforting. It’s a classic dish which is loved by many.
If you want to make lasagna healthier, you can add vegetables into your mince mixture. If you’re vegetarian or looking for a meat-free alternative, you can opt out of using mince at all. Slice up your vegetables finely, you have an excellent faux meat substitute.
Instead of using ricotta, you can substitute it for cottage cheese. It adds that cheesiness and has much fewer calories. If you’re looking for a side, you can swap garlic bread out for a healthy side salad. It will be fresh, and if you fill up on salad, you will consume less pasta overall.
Pasta al Limone
Pasta al limone is one of the most famous Italian pasta dishes, which has recently become mainstream in American cuisine. It is an authentic Italian dish and is very easy to make.
It’s a spaghetti dish, made with lemon, olive oil, Parmesan, salt, and black pepper. It’s a dish that focuses on less is more, which is what makes it both healthy and delicious.
As you consume both pasta and easy in moderation, it’s a moderately healthy dish, that is yummy to eat. It’s perfect if you are trying to lose weight, or introduce new flavors into your diet. It’s also not a heavy dish, so you will feel light after eating.
Healthy Italian Dishes – Summary
Well, that brings us to the end of our article on the 7 healthiest Italian dishes that still taste amazing. We have a range of different dishes you can choose from. You could choose a soup, pasta, or even salads, all of which are healthy and scrumptious to taste. Want to add four more to your recipe book? Try these Roman Classics: Pasta alla Romana
We hope you have found our article helpful, and you enjoy some delicious healthy Italian recipes!