Top 3 Italian Recipes Everyone Loves

Did you know that in addition to being National Pizza Month, October is also National Pasta Month and National Italian American Heritage Month? Pizza and pasta are at the tip of everyone’s tongue when they talk about their favorite Italian foods. Since we spend the majority of time talking about pizza, we thought we’d switch things up a bit with a classic Italian baked pasta dish.

Rigatoni al Forno RecipeOther than simple tomato sauce, these two sauces are the backbone of authentic Italian cuisine. They are used not only in dressing a variety of pasta shapes but also in making Classic Lasagna, another Italian favorite. In the Bologna region of Italy, lasagna is made by layering fresh sheets of pasta with Bolognese sauce and Besciamella sauce before being baked. Both Béchamel and Bolognese sauces can also be used in other recipes on their own, so by learning to make this traditional dish, you’re getting three recipes in one!

Catherine de’ Medici


You might be wondering how a French sauce ended up in an Italian recipe. The truth is that even though much of the world considers this to be a French sauce, it was actually introduced to France by Catherine de Medici of Florence, Italy when she married Henri II. She was also the first to reveal Duck in Orange Sauce, crepes, and ice cream along with many other baking traditions and varieties of produce. For this reason, she is believed to have started the Grande Cuisine movement in France.


The easy-to-find pasta of choice for this recipe is Rigatoni; short, very wide, rectangular shapes that are usually ridged and pair well with Béchamel sauce, thick tomato sauce, meat sauces, or a combination of sauces. They’re also often used along with sauces, in baked pasta recipes such as Rigatoni al Forno which Chef/Brand Ambassador Amy Riolo demonstrates in this video.




  • Can pasta cook in a pizza oven?
    • Yes, just make sure your baking dish can stand up to the high temperatures! We’re firing up the Rotator and baking our Pasta al Forno in cast-iron skillets for a gorgeous presentation and to create a crispy crust around the edges that bake in just a minute and a half!
    • Baking the pasta this way allows it to have a perfect golden texture in much less time than a regular oven.


  • What does “al forno” mean?
    • Al forno, in Italian, means “in the oven.” There are scores of beloved Italian recipes for roasting meats, seafood, fish, vegetables, and even fruit for dessert in the oven.


  • Where can I use Béchamel sauce?
    • Other than in this dish, it can be used in any baked pasta dish of your choice, just add in cooked vegetables and you will have your own variations. It is also used as a base for cream soups (just add stock to thin it out), and macaroni and cheese (just add the cheeses of your choice, stir into pasta and bake). In France, Béchamel sauce is poured over vegetables and proteins to make traditional gratin dishes. There are also more variation ideas located under the recipe.

Amy Riolo making the Besciamella sauce

  • What is the difference between Ragù and Bolognese Sauce?
    •  Several Italian regions have their own ragù or sugo di carne (meat sauce) recipes that were traditionally made on Sunday morning and enjoyed after families came home from church. Since the Catholic Church promoted abstaining from meat from Friday until after receiving the Eucharist on Sunday, a meat-based sauce was the ultimate feast-worthy meal to celebrate with. In terms of titles, Ragù is often used to refer to the Neapolitan version which is made with pieces of whole meat instead of the Bolognese Sauce version which is always made with ground meat. If the word Ragù precedes the words alla Bolognese, then you know that it was made in that style, with ground meat.


  • What are classic Italian dishes?
    • Pizza Napoletana, Spaghetti al Pomodoro, Lasagna, and Linguine alle vongole are among the world’s most-known Italian dishes. Other than pizza and pasta, risotto and Parmigiano-style dishes are the most quintessentially Italian.

 Amy Riolo in the kitchen making Rigatoni al Forno

  • What other dishes could you make using these sauces?
    • If you would like to use them together, Bolognese-style Lasagna is your best bet. Otherwise, if you would like to use them separately, the Besciamella ideas are mentioned above. For the Ragù alla Bolognese, it is normally used with tagliatelle and fettuccine-shaped pasta. In the wintertime, some people like to serve it over fresh, warm polenta instead of pasta.


 Amy Riolo

             In addition to being one of our Brand Ambassadors, Chef Amy Riolo is a best-selling author, award-winning chef, and television host, The author of 11 books (with #12 in the works), has been named “The Ambassador of Italian Cuisine in the US” by The Italian International Agency for Foreign Press, “Ambassador of the Italian Mediterranean Diet 2022-2024” by the International Academy of the Italian Mediterranean Diet in her ancestral homeland of Calabria, Italy, and “Ambassador of Mediterranean Cuisine in the World” by the Rome-based media agency We The Italians. These recipes are from her latest release Italian Recipes for Dummies.

Italian Recipes for Dummies by Amy Riolo rigatoni al Forno




Insert pic or video Bolognese Sauce





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