With the whole of September ahead of us, there is no better time to enjoy a spot of Italian cuisine – the perfect summer diet.
Mixing fresh salads and an abundance of vegetables with tender fish and rich meats, Italian food is made for summer time. If you are more used to cooking up spaghetti bolognaise than antipasto, however, take a look at the recipe inspiration below.
We might be big on breakfast here in the UK, but for the Italians, breakfast is more of a grab and go meal. If you want to go really authentic, whip up a caffé e latte (hot coffee with milk) and partake in a cornetti: an Italian take on the croissant. Foodies with an even sweeter tooth will love the Italian breakfast tart, crostata marmellata (jam crostata), but if it’s simplicity you’re after, you can’t go wrong with spinach frittata.
Italians who do partake in a more substantial breakfast often prefer this versatile egg dish. Full of protein and, thanks to the spinach, iron, it will set you up for the day and give you a true taste of this Mediterranean favourite. All you need are some free range eggs, spinach, Italian hard cheese, garlic, olive oil, and this recipe.
Lunch is Italy’s main culinary event, consisting of three courses. The first usually consists of a small pasta or risotto dish, with risotto con porcini being our particular favourite. Rich, deep and comforting, it’s a dish favoured by families right across Italy.
For the second course, Italians like to cook up some meat or fish with vegetables and a sauce. Stracotto al Chianti (braised beef in Chianti wine) is a Tuscan favourite with surprisingly few ingredients: instead, it’s all about quality produce. So too, in fact, is baccala alla pizzaiola (cod with a tomato sauce). All it takes is a good piece of fish, some flour, olive oil, garlic, capers, plum tomatoes, oregano and parsley.
And to finish off? A lovely, fresh fruit salad.
Dinner isn’t a fussy affair, instead centring on light meals such as leftovers from lunch, soup and salad. In particular, insalata caprese. Originating from 1950s Capri, this simple yet delicious dish begs not to be tampered with. Stick to the original recipe of mozzarella, sliced tomatoes, basil leaves and olive oil, and you’ll see why!
Italian families don’t often dine out in the evening, but when they do, a popular foodstuff is that old favourite… pizza. It has to be authentic pizza, mind!
Originating in culinary heavyweight, Naples, the humble pizza is so much more than margherita. Depending on where you visit, Italian pizza toppings vary wildly. You could whip up pizza capricciosa: incorporating mushrooms, melt-in-your-mouth prosciutto, artichoke hearts, olives and boiled egg, or pizza pugliese: incorporating capers and olives. In coastal regions, you will even find olive oil-soaked tuna topping pizzas, or other seafood, such as anchovies and shellfish. Once you’ve made the dough, the choice is yours!
Tiramisu is one of Italy’s most famous exports, but when it comes to dessert, the old favourites are still the best. Take cannoli, a Sicilian-born pastry dessert filled with a tantalisingly creamy filling. The number of ingredients in the recipe may seem intimidating at first, but your efforts will be well-rewarded.
Then there is the sumptuous genoise sponge: a delicate cake that originated in Genoa. Being so delightfully light, it’s perfect for lazy summer evenings, especially when paired with tangy fruits, like in this recipe.
Light, fresh, hearty, rich: Italian cuisine incorporates the ultimate mixture of flavours. Why not don your apron and practice some of these recipes before your next trip to this bel paese?