Italian Comfort Food (Recipes)

Italians really know how to comfort one with good food. And it is Italian good food that we need right now, as winter months roll over Australia. For cooler southern states, warm and rich Italian food is exactly what a doctor has prescribed; but regardless of where you are in Australia, a good wholesome meal at the end of a day full of uncertainties and constant news updates is a blessing many can rely on, especially with our simple recipes.

Today, we are sharing some of our favourite Italian comfort food cooking because preparing delicious Italian meals has been our way of soothing our travel blues.

Life is for enjoying. And what else screams Dolce Vita better than good Italian food.

Pan-cooked Pizza

Did you know that the word pizza is thought to have come from the Latin word pinsa, meaning flatbread (although there is much debate about the origin of the word). One legend suggests that Roman soldiers gained a taste for Jewish Matzoth while stationed in Roman occupied Palestine and developed a similar food after returning home. However a recent archeological discovery has found a preserved Bronze Age pizza in the Veneto region.

By the Middle Ages, these early pizzas started to take on a more modern look and taste. The peasantry of the time used what few ingredients they could get their hands on to produce the modern pizza dough and topped it with olive oil and herbs.

Today pizza takes all shapes, forms and meanings, depending on the cook. So, let’s make the type of pizza at home that is quick, easy and delicious, while Googling more about the origin of this dish or enjoying a nice Italian movie.

This pan-cooked pizza is a super simple and quick version of pizza for those who don’t want to fuss over it for too long or don’t have an oven at home. It was created by Warren Mendes from Delicious, and you can also experiment with your toppings and add a few more things beyond the suggested ingredients.


1 thin pizza base, 2 teaspoons olive oil, 1/2 cup (130g) tomato and basil pasta sauce, 125g mozzarella, thinly sliced 2 tablespoons salted capers, rinsed, drained, 2 tablespoons basil pesto, 4 slices prosciutto and torn Basil leaves to serve.

How to make it?

Heat a large frypan with a lid over medium heat. Brush both sides of the pizza base with oil, then place, upside-down, in the frypan. Cover with a lid and cook for 2 minutes, then flip over.

Spread the pasta sauce over the pizza base, then scatter over mozzarella and capers. Season. Cover with the lid, reduce heat to medium-low and continue to cook for a further 5-6 minutes until the cheese has melted and the base is crisp.

Slide pizza onto a board, drizzle over the pesto and scatter with prosciutto and basil leaves to serve.

Broad Bean and Pecorino Bruschetta

Bruschetta is an exercise of getting the basics right; balancing the flavour, texture and temperature of simple ingredients to create something greater than the sum of its parts. This delicious bruschetta from David Prior from Delicious is a balancing act of broad beans, garlic and cheese on crunchy bread combining robust and mellow flavours and taste on a limiting area of a bread slice. And this is an ideal comfort snack for a movie night in.


2kg fresh broad beans, 1/3 cup (80ml) olive oil, plus extra to brush 3 rosemary sprigs, 3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped, plus 1 extra garlic clove, halved 1 loaf ciabatta, cut into 8 thick slices, 2 tablespoons roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley 100g, Pecorino Sardo or Pecorino Romano, shaved.

How to make it?

Blanch broad beans in boiling salted water for 1 minute, then plunge into iced water and squeeze beans from skins. Set aside.

Warm oil, rosemary and chopped garlic in a pan over very low heat for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, to infuse oil. Don’t allow garlic to colour.

Add beans, 1 tablespoon water and 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Increase heat to medium and cook for 2 minutes or until beans are cooked and bright green.

Meanwhile, preheat a chargrill pan or grill to high. Brush ciabatta with oil, then grill for 1-2 minutes each side until golden and charred. Rub halved garlic over toasts.

Top toasts with beans and a drizzle of oil. Sprinkle with parsley, cheese and black pepper, then serve immediately.

Chorizo Ragu with Spaghetti

Ragu is not Bolognese. It’s true that both are Italian favorites, both are sauces made with meat, but it’s also true that they are different. Ragu is a meat-based (veal, beef, lamb, pork, fish or poultry) sauce with a small amount of tomato sauce added to it. Ragu sauce has more meat and minced elements, specifically minced carrot, celery and pancetta, also known as soffritto, and is made with wine, beef broth, and usually a little bit of heavy cream or milk poured in it to lighten the color and enrich the flavor. This is a great topic for a cooking conversation in your household tonight.

The Louise Pickford’s ragu recipe caught our eye, sparkling foodie imagination. So today we want to share it with you, enriching your Italian night in. Belissimo!


3 chorizo sausages, casings removed, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 onion, finely chopped, 2 garlic cloves, crushed, 1 tablespoon chopped thyme leaves, 250g lean beef mince, 2 x 400g cans Ardmona Diced Tomatoes, 150ml red wine, 2 tablespoons tomato paste, 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley, 500g dried spaghetti, grated parmesan and toasted pine nuts, to serve.

How to make it?

Roughly chop the chorizo meat and place in a food processor, then whiz until coarsely ground.

Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat, add the chorizo mince and cook, stirring, for 6-8 minutes until browned. Remove the meat with a slotted spoon and set aside, leaving the fat in the pan.

Add the onion, garlic and thyme with some salt and pepper and cook, stirring, over low heat for 5 minutes or until soft and lightly golden. Add the beef mince and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes until browned.

Return chorizo meat to the pan and stir in the tomatoes, wine and tomato paste. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 40 minutes or until the sauce has thickened. Adjust seasoning to taste, then stir in parsley and keep warm.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large saucepan of boiling, salted water according to packet instructions or until al dente. Drain.

To serve, divide the spaghetti among serving bowls and top with the ragu. Sprinkle with grated parmesan and top with the pine nuts.

Broccolini, Mushroom and Ricotta Conchiglie

The word conchiglie is believed to originate in Italy, where the name is derived from conchiglia, which means seashell. In fact, this word is similar in meaning with the English conch, which has been derived from konkhe, the Greek word for shell.

As you already know, conchiglie is a variety of Italian medium-sized pasta characterized by its seashell shape. There are three main sizes of conchiglie: small (conchigliette), which are ideal for soups, regular conchiglie, and jumbo (conchiglioni), which are best for stuffing or baking. Conchiglie pasta is known to hold chunky and meaty sauces extremely well, so it is recommended to pair it with meat dishes, sauces, and vegetables, preferably with some grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese on top.

So, when we found the Warren Mendes’ conchiglie recipe, it was destiny. This delicious and simple to prepare Italian dish will warm the coldest of nights with or without Netflix.


400g conchiglie (large pasta shells), 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil, 250g button mushrooms, very finely chopped, 4 anchovy fillets in oil, drained, chopped 500g ricotta, 1/2 cup (125ml) milk, 80g smoked cheddar cheese, grated, 2 bunches broccolini, very finely chopped, finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon.

How to make it?

Preheat oven to 200°C. Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Add the conchiglie and cook for 8 minutes or until almost tender, then drain.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a frypan over high heat. Add mushrooms, and cook, stirring, for 4 minutes or until golden. Stir through anchovy and cook for a further 1 minute or until anchovy dissolves. Remove from heat.

Combine the ricotta and milk, then add half the mushroom mixture, cheddar and broccolini. Season, then fill conchiglie with ricotta mixture and arrange on a greased baking dish. Top with remaining mushroom mixture, cheddar and broccolini. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden and bubbling.

Sprinkle with lemon zest and drizzle with lemon juice to serve.

Eggplant Rotolo Ragu

Few dishes are more comforting than a rich, meaty ragout draped over chewy-tender ribbons of fresh pasta. This dish achieves that! This recipe is a great illustration of the endless creativity of Italian cooking and that’s much more than just pizza and pasta.


2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra to drizzle 1 carrot, finely chopped 1 onion, finely chopped, 1 celery stalk, finely chopped, 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped, 350g veal mince, 350g pork mince, 1 tablespoon dried Italian herbs, 2 tablespoons tomato paste, 400g can tomatoes, chopped, 1 cup (250ml) red wine, 2 eggplants, 1/4 cup (20g) parmesan, grated, 1/2 cup (120g) ricotta, crumbled, flat-leaf parsley, chopped, to serve.

How to make it?

Heat oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add carrot, onion, celery and garlic, and cook for 3-4 minutes until softened. Add the mince, herbs and tomato paste, and cook, stirring, for a further 8 minutes or until browned. Add the tomatoes and wine, reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes or until thickened. Season.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 200°C.

Thinly slice the eggplants lengthways, discarding small outer slices, and drizzle with oil. Cook eggplant, in batches, in a frypan over medium-high heat for 1 minute each side or until slightly golden, then drain on paper towel. Cool slightly.

Place two-thirds of the ragu in a 2L (8 cup) baking dish. Roll up each eggplant slice and push into the ragu to secure in place. Spoon remaining ragu mixture into the eggplant rolls and into any gaps. Top with parmesan and ricotta, and bake for 10-15 minutes until the cheese is melted and golden.

Scatter with parsley to serve.

To continue venturing into delicious Italian food, check out our top cooking classes in Italy that we have on our post-covid-19 travel bucket list.

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If you’d like more information regarding Food Tours, please don’t hesitate to contact our team on 1800 242 353.