5 easy Italian meals you can cook in 30 minutes or less

Pasta with Mussels in Marinara Sauce

These simple, classic recipes from chef Fabio Viviani, a former ‘Top Chef’ star and expert on all things Italian, will take the stress out of making a delicious weeknight dinner.

Everybody loves Italian food—the flavor combinations are straightforward and reliably delicious. But when making Italian for ourselves, all too often we fall into the monotonous cycle of cooking exclusively carb-heavy “red sauce” dishes—spaghetti and meatballs, chicken parmigiana, and (for the slightly more daring home chef) freshly baked pizza.

But as chef Fabio Viviani knows well, there’s a lot more to “eating like the Romans do” than just tomato sauce.

With a bit of help from the Top Chef “fan favorite” and Florence native, you can prepare a variety of lightened-up, authentic Italian recipes in your very own kitchen. The best part? Each dish takes 30 minutes or less to make, meaning you just found your favorite new weeknight meal plan.

1. Fettuccini with salmon, dill, zucchini ribbons, and Romano sauce

This light, perfect-for-spring pasta dish delivers a hearty dose of dietary fiber and vitamin C with the help of zucchini, as well as vitamin B12 and omega-3 fatty acids courtesy of the salmon. The combination of fresh herbs like tarragon, dill, and parsley pack in a bunch of flavor that will make this a weeknight staple. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with pasta, but if you’re trying to lay off the carbs, consider upping the ante on the zucchini and dialing down the fettuccini.

2. Lemon-roasted chicken with avocado and warm artichoke hearts

This rapid-fire recipe “embodies all that’s good about pan-searing with the ingredients you’re apt to keep on hand,” says Viviani. The side salad of avocado and canned artichokes marry perfectly with the lemony chicken, especially because the artichokes are heated up in the same pan. If you’re not used to eating warm salads, this recipe—which, by the way, is packed with healthy fats and protein—is a fantastic introduction.

3. Grilled shrimp with basil and orange sauce

This perfect summertime dish is all about complementing sweet and sour flavors. But “if you don’t want to fire up the grill,” Viviani says, you can simply “sear the shrimp” in a pan. Bonus tip: Make a bit of extra sauce and use it to marinate the shrimp before you grill it.

4. Grilled calamari and warm spinach salad with orange segments

There are a few things you should know about cooking calamari before you get started on this fresh, great-for-grilling recipe. Most important, frozen calamari will work just fine if you’re not able to get your hands on the fresh squid. For added flavor, Viviani reccomends letting the calamari “soak in a simple olive oil and lemon juice marinade while you prep the spinach.” Don’t let the calamari soak for more than 15 minutes, though, as the lemon juice will start to “cook” the squid (like in a ceviche).

5. Blistered sweet pepper and marinated feta salad with arugula and quinoa

Quinoa, a gluten-free and protein-rich pseudocereal, is the superstar of this crisp, well-balanced salad. It blends “perfectly with the honey, dill, fruity olive oil, briny olives, sweet cherry tomatoes, earthy roasted red peppers, and creamy, crumbly feta cheese,” says Viviani. Make this recipe in a large batch and you can easily enjoy the leftovers for a few days.



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