It’s hot. I like to take advantage of the sunshine and enjoy the good weather while it lasts. Luckily summer means that many fruit and vegetables are at their peak, requiring little intervention to create a delicious meal. Here are a few of my favourites during the summer:
Basically anything spread on grilled or toasted bread (bruschetta) and served as a starter or snack with a drink is perfect for summer. There is the most famous bruschetta con pomodoro (tomato bruschetta – recipe here) or a twist on the spring time bruschetta con fave (broad bean / fava bean bruschetta- recipe here) made with frozen peas.
Also excellent on toast or on its own is caponata (a sweet and sour aubergine spread- recipe here). This can be made in a large batch on a cool night and then preserved all summer under oil.
Salads are key when there is no time to cook and the thought of adding more heat to the house is unthinkable. There is the ever popular caprese (tomato and mozzarella salad – recipe here), the ubiquitous prosciutto and melon salad (recipe here), the refreshing Sicilian orange, olive and fennel salad (if fennel is unavailable celery can be substituted; if oranges are unavailable, melon can be substituted)- recipe here, the heartier Tuscan tuna and bean salad (recipe here), the chewy farro salad (recipe here), the fig, prosciutto and rocket salad (recipe here), the octopus and potato salad (recipe here) and the summertime aubergine / eggplant parmesan (recipe here).
Any of these recipes requiring heat (the farro salad, the octopus salad and the aubergine), can all be cooked the night before when it is cooler.
Did you say soups? Soup in the summer? Yes here is one cold melon and prosciutto crisp soup (recipe here), a cold Tuscan tomato and bread soup (pappa al pomodoro – recipe here) and a minestrone (recipe here) which can be served room temperature.
First there are several variations on pesto (from pestare meaning to crush). These sauces can be made in advance and used to dress pasta at the last minute. There is the classic Ligurian basil based pesto (recipe here) and two Sicilian pestos made from aubergine (eggplant-see recipe here) and tomatoes and almonds (pesto trapanese –see recipe here). There is also more involved Sicilian baked pasta called anelletti (recipe here) which is perfect made in advance and served at room temperature on picnics and at the seaside. Finally, I love seafood during the summer as it reminds me of where one should be on a hot summer’s day- at the sea! Here is a seafood spaghetti recipe and a spaghetti with clam recipe.
Next week I will report back with my favourite summertime main dishes, side dishes and desserts. Until then, enjoy!