With summer winding down to a close, it’s never too late to enjoy what the season has to offer. Italy has many local dishes that vary from one region to the next, and summertime is when the regional cuisine is at its peak. With the bounty of summer fruits and vegetables on hand, Italians can get very creative with the food they make.
Below are just some of the season’s signature dishes that you should try.
As the season for produce, this tomato and mozzarella salad is seen accompanying many meals during summer. It is typically topped with basil with a light drizzle of olive oil. As the name implies, it takes its roots from the island of Capri and makes use of high grade mozzarella from the Campania region. It’s a great way to start off a meal or as a complementary dish to meat and fish.
Insalata di Riso
While many Italians consider rice meals to be a bit heavy during summer, this colorful rice salad is a seasonal favorite since it’s made up of various fresh ingredients like tomatoes, olives, and artichokes. Eggs and cheese can also be included in this dish, as well as light meats and fish. Once seasoned with a little salt and olive oil, it can become quite the complete meal that’s perfect for an afternoon summer picnic.
Another delightful vegetable dish, Caponata makes use of the season’s prime summer vegetables – the aubergine. Originally hailing from Sicily, it is commonly used as a side dish with other summer foods that use this vegetable. The aubergines are stir-fried along with tomatoes and celery, then cooked with vinegar and a dash of sugar to create a sweet and sour flavor. Other ingredients like olives and bell peppers and usually included to contrast the sweetness that the tomatoes give.
This is a salad variant from Tuscany that makes use of vegetables and stale bread, making it an ideal light meal even during the hottest days. Panzanella was made as an inventive way to reuse simple or stale ingredients, similar to other Italian dishes. This bread and vegetable salad typically uses tomatoes, onions, and basil along with stale bread that’s softened with vinegar and olive oil to mix in the flavors.
A sweet and refreshing summer dessert, macedonia is essentially a fruit salad using various seasonal fruits. A typical macedonia includes strawberries, melons, peaches that are sliced into small pieces and is complemented with a sugar and lemon juice dressing. Compared to the typical fruit cocktail, macedonia forgoes the cream and places more focus on the fruits themselves, allowing them to emphasize the dessert’s sweetness.
Finally, what’s summer fare isn’t complete without a sweet treat of Italian ice cream. Gelato comes in many flavors, but fruit flavors are predominantly the theme during summer so expect to get your fill of fruity ice cream before the season is done. There is also dairy-free sorbetto gelato for those with a more sensitive tummy. This is perfect after a savory lunch as you stroll through the city with a gelato in hand.