Here are five simple summer dishes you can try at home
Italian cuisine is very popular across the world for pizza and pasta, but have you ever tried a real parmigiana? Summer is the season when many vegetables are at their best. Being high in vitamins, fibre, and water, which helps us stay hydrated despite the hot weather, they are excellent for our health. That’s why we have selected five summer dishes that you can effortlessly prepare at home with seasonal vegetables. After all, some of the greatest Italian recipes are vegetarian.
Caponata is an ancient Sicilian side dish that can be also served as a light piatto unico or appetizer. The traditional recipe combines chopped fried eggplants with celery, tomatoes, olives and capers in an agrodolce sauce. However, every city (and every household) has its own recipe, always prepared with locally produced summer vegetables. Caponata is the perfect make-ahead dish. Let it chill in the fridge for one day: the flavors will have time to mingle and its taste will be irresistible. Serve it at room temperature topping some toasted bread for a vegan appetizer.
Both the dish and its name have mysterious origins. Some say that the word caponata derives from capone, the Sicilian word for dolphinfish, which was served at aristocratic dinners, seasoned with a sweet and sour sauce. As lower-class people could not afford fish, they replaced it with eggplants and what grew in their gardens.
Panzanella is another example of traditional peasant food. As it was made with one’s produce, there is no official recipe. The main ingredients of the Tuscan panzanella are stale Tuscan bread (baked without salt) soaked in water and vinegar and squeezed, and ripe tomatoes, mixed with cucumbers, onion, basil, and seasoned with extra virgin olive oil, salt and white wine vinegar.
An excellent appetizer or single course for summer, when you don’t feel like cooking and tomatoes are at their best.
Frittata di zucchine
Frittata is a dish that lends itself to endless variations depending on the ingredients and the ways you cook and serve it. Adults and kids love it alike and it is perfect to persuade them to eat their vegetables. You can make a basic yet tasty frittata with zucchini; the only difficulty lies in flipping it without breaking it. If you find it more intimidating than turning on the oven, just bake it. It will be a walk in the park.
Fiori di zucca in pastella
In a vegetable garden we can find many edible flowers, but squash blossoms are a real delicacy. They are also very versatile: you can use them for a frittata, pasta, risotto, but you can also stuff them, bake them, fry them… For a tasty appetizer, you can make them into fritters. Prepare a batter with flour, sparkling water (or beer), eggs, salt; dip them in the batter one by one and deep-fry in hot oil for a few minutes. Before dipping them in the batter you can delicately stuff them with mozzarella and/or vegetables if you want.
Nota bene: In Italian we call them fiori di zucca even when they are fiori di zucchina
Parmigiana di melanzane
Last but not least, a classic for an Italian Sunday lunch and a brilliant alternative to lasagne. With its countless variants, parmigiana is really popular throughout Italy, but the most traditional version is made with thinly sliced fried eggplants layered in a baking casserole with tomato sauce, mozzarella, parmigiano, basil. The ultimate proof that, at least in Italian cuisine, less is more.
Keep it simple: use few ingredients and high-quality seasonal products. That’s the only rule you need.