10 Healthier Italian Favorites You Can Feel Good About Eating

healthier italian recipes
Photo Credit: Ambitious Kitchen

March 17, 2021

By Carrie Havranek

Healthier Italian? Yes, please. We’ve found lighter versions of all your favorites, from Creamy Risotto to Chicken Parm. These 10 recipes deliver all the comfort and flavor you’d expect, so you’ll still find the cheese, carbs, and red sauce you’re craving — just in moderation. Plus, healthier swaps mean they’re often loaded with extra nutrition as well. Buon appetito!

1. Turkey Meatballs from Ambitious Kitchen

Sometimes, you just need a bowl of meatballs. Make these leaner turkey meatballs that still pack plenty of protein into a healthier meatball sub, serve them with spaghetti squash or regular spaghetti, or just eat them as is. A green salad to go with is always a good idea.

risotto recipe
Photo Credit: RightRice

2. Creamy Parmesan Risotto with Sauteed Shrimp

With our new go-to dinner shortcut, RightRice Risotto, you can make restaurant-worthy risotto on a weeknight. Not only is RightRice Risotto packed with plant-based protein and fiber and fewer carbs than traditional risotto, it’s easy to cook in a fraction of the time, so you can be enjoying a creamy (and dairy-free) risotto in just 12 minutes. That’s amore!

healthy italian recipes
Photo Credit: Show Me the Yummy

3. Healthy Alfredo Sauce Recipe from Show Me the Yummy

This recipe from Show me the Yummy brings leans on broth and and Greek yogurt to bring the flavor and plenty of nutrition, without the overindulgence. We promise you won’t even miss the cream! Serve with your favorite pasta—gluten-free, plant-based or conventional.

vegan lasagna
Photo Credit: Sweet Simple Vegan

4. Best Vegan Lasagna from Sweet Simple Vegan

If you’re following a vegan diet, or just trying to eat more plant-based foods, this vegan lasagna is for you. It uses tofu in place of ricotta, vegan shredded cheese, and an easy homemade cheese sauce to deliver the ooey-gooey part you love. This recipe calls for vegan ground beef, but you could just as easily load it up with your favorite vegetables.

chicken picatta
Photo Credit: Chew Out Loud

5. Easy Healthy Chicken Piccata from Chew Out Loud

Chicken is a great source of protein, but it’s often, well, slightly boring. This lighter piccata sauce brings tons of lemony, garlicky flavor, with the brininess of capers and some fresh parsley. It only calls for one tablespoon of butter, and if you want to skip the butter entirely (and use all EVOO), go ahead. You can also use gluten-free flour instead of regular flour, or just skip it altogether. Really this dish is all about the lemon-garlic-caper trifecta.

chicken parm
Photo Credit: Pinch of Yum

6. 20 Minute Healthy Chicken Parmesan from Pinch of Yum

Sometimes the secret to making something healthier is simply adding vegetables. That’s mostly the case here with chicken parm that goes easy on the cheese and sits on a bed of zucchini noodles. This feels like it’s not going to weigh you down—and it won’t. Even better? It’s actually (truly) ready in 20 minutes.

stuffed shells
Photo Credit: Cookie + Kate

7. Best Stuffed Shells from Cookie and Kate

These stuffed shells use an entire pound of spinach! There are also plenty of options if you want to cut back on the cheese or make it with vegan sour cream instead of ricotta. This wins points for versatility and deliciousness in equal parts.

Photo Credit: Well Plated by Erin

8. Turkey Bolognese from Well Plated with Erin

Bless the simplicity and keeping-it-real nature of this recipe, which calls for turkey instead of beef and whole milk instead of cream.  Smart shortcuts, such as buying good-quality refrigerated pasta, are encouraged here, too. If you want, make it totally vegan with plant-based ground beef.

shrimp scampi
Photo Credit: A Sweet Pea Chef

9. 15-Minute Healthy Shrimp Scampi from A Sweet Pea Chef

Shrimp scampi is so timelessly tasty because of butter, and lots of it. This recipe cuts back on the butter, ups the lemon and herbs (easy and healthy moves), and pairs it all with zoodles to bring a seriously lightened-up scampi to the table. Serve with a veggie-based rice like RightRice instead of veggie noodles, if you like.

tuscan steak
Photo Credit: Half-Baked Harvest

10. Tuscan Steak with Marinated Cherries from Half Baked Harvest

Yes, we’re talking about steak here with a fried egg on top, which is pretty traditional in Tuscany. The key here is to choose the best-quality egg and best-quality steak. Rubbing the meat with plenty of garlic, rosemary, and olive oil lends tons of flavor. Marinating tomatoes saves even a lackluster off-season selection, and a handful of fresh arugula gives the whole thing some zing.