One of the joys of Italian food is enjoying its seasonality and July’s delicious bounty ripens beautifully in the warm summer months. Get past the ubiquitous pizzas and pastas and discover the pleasure of fresh vegetables, fruits and even meats and fish in season:
For the perfect summer starter where would Prosciutto be without the cool fresh sweetness of a cantaloupe melon balancing the dry-cured saltiness for the perfect antipasto served as Prosciutto e melone. What’s more it is impossibly easy to prepare whilst nibbling, sipping, and chatting to friends.
And then where would Italy be without its summer-ripening tomatoes? The pomo d’oro or golden apple was not introduced to Italy until the mid-sixteenth century from the Americas but it thrived in the Italian climate and became so popular that it even has different varieties linked to different regions. There are so many recipes in which the Italians use this humble fruit but we love one of the simplest, namely Bruschetta (recipes here). Our quick and easy version is best served on a Doriana cracker accompanied by your favourite topping and eaten in the sunshine, al fresco!
Aubergines or egg plants are the egg-shaped glossy purple fruit coming into season now with their white flesh and a meaty texture. Their structure makes them ideal for stuffing and baking or slicing and frying into pasta-like sheets with many recipes featuring meat, cheese and tomatoes for more substantial meals. Pasta alla Norma is a Sicilian pasta dish with fried aubergine, a tomato and basil sauce and grated hard ricotta cheese named after the famous Sicilian composer Bellini’s opera Norma.
Then onto seasonal desserts – and the Italian love their strawberries. In Italy now is the time to look for the wild fragoline di bosco fruits which are a small alpine variety with a conical shape but with intense aroma and earthy flavour. You can get your strawberry kicks with our delightfully playful Strawberry Yoghurt and Ratafia Popsicles (recipe here), eaten preferably with bare feet on wet summer grass.
Finally, let’s not forget Figs as a great source of fibre and full of vitamins and minerals for the most versatile of ingredients. They can add a burst of sweetness to all kinds of dishes and arguably complement savoury flavours best as in our Baked Cheeses and Figs dish (Click here for recipe); a tasty supper with a glass of Chianti, flickering candles and the summer’s darkening sky.