Best Italian recipes

Can't imagine life without pizza or pasta? You don't have to! Here's 30 recipes to enjoy the Italian cuisine on a weight loss plan.
Published 11 April 2022 | Updated 25 August 2023
Cheat’s chicken and eggplant parmigiana

Enjoy all your favourite Italian dishes!

Pizza, pasta, parmigiana and panna cotta – all your favourite Italian meals are still on the menu with WeightWatchers®. We’ve created a delicious collection of great-tasting recipes that prove healthy eating, weight-loss and your favourite foods can go hand in hand. From luscious layered lasagne and creamy gnocchi to gorgeous gelato and tantalising tiramisu, our recipes are bursting with flavour and tradition. Better still, there’s no need to wait for a special occasion, these easy dishes are perfect for weeknight cooking and will still keep your weight-loss goals on track. So go ahead, treat yourself to a taste of Italy tonight!

10 Italian staples

Stock up on these ingredients to create Mediterranean magic in your kitchen.

1. Tomatoes

Canned tomatoes

Tomatoes in every form, from diced fresh tomatoes on bruschetta and canned tomatoes in chicken cacciatore to passata (bottled Italian tomato puree), which makes a quick pasta sauce. The variety doesn’t really matter; the most important thing is that they should be ripe and full of flavour (store at room temperature for best results).

2. Olive oil

A mainstay of Mediterranean cooking. Olive oil not only adds flavour and stops food from sticking but it is rich in antioxidants and has been linked to lower cholesterol levels and reduced heart disease.

3. Fresh herbs

Fresh herbs

Plenty of fresh herbs—such as parsley, basil, sage and oregano—are one of the secrets to authentic Italian cooking. Most herbs are best added just before serving to retain maximum flavour.

4. Legumes

In traditional Italian cooking, legumes are often the star of the dish. They are also cheap, help bulk out meals and store for long periods, making them ideal pantry staples. Try brown lentils, cannellini beans and borlotti beans.

5. Vegetables

Many Italian dishes start with the ’holy trinity‘ of vegetables: onion, carrot and celery (which they call soffritto). In fact, Italians eat a lot more veggies than your local restaurant menu might suggest. Along with tomatoes, try eggplant, capsicum, artichokes, fennel, mushrooms and cabbage - all ZeroPoint foods!

6. Cheese

Few pasta dishes are complete without a sprinkling of pungent parmesan, while stretchy mozzarella is a must for many pizza toppings. Creamy ricotta can be crumbled over salads, stirred through risotto or used in a dessert.

7. Bread

The key to healthy Mediterranean eating is enjoying all things in moderation, including bread. So feel free to team a slice of crusty ciabatta (pronounced “chuh-bahtuh“) with your minestrone.

8. Pasta

Dried pasta

Yes, even Italians will buy premade pasta. Use short pasta (eg penne) for chunky sauces and bakes, thin pasta (eg angel hair) for lighter sauces, and thick pasta (eg fettuccine) for rich, meaty ragu.

9 Cured meat

Prosciutto and pancetta are popular additions to pizza, pasta and soups and you only need a small amount to achieve a decent flavour hit.

10. Coffee

From their morning cappuccino to an affogato (espresso poured over ice-cream) for dessert, most Italians love a caffeine fix each day!