Summer is around the corner, and the Farmer’s Markets will be open for business. No one enjoys the bounty of the summer harvest more than the Italians, so I asked my favorite Italian cook to share some of her secrets with me. Vicki Steelman lived in Italy for six years, long enough to become an expert in Italian cooking and for her three daughters to become fluent in the language and culture.
Italians love to enjoy food “al fresco” (outdoors) and are sure to have fresh tomatoes, lemons, basil, and garlic on hand at all times. Every kitchen is well stocked with Extra Virgin Olive Oil ~ “Prima spremuta” refers to the first press of the olives and the preference of all Italian cooks. Summer in Italy is particularly noted for fresh and healthy cooking, and here is Vicki’s top simple Summer-time dinner suggestion.
Pasta dish: “Pasta fredda” (Cold pasta)
Cook pasta “al dente”, drain and cool. Add olive oil, halved cherry tomatoes, fresh basil, garlic, and if desired, olives and fresh mozzarella cheese.
Vegetable side: Italian Broccoli
Par-boil broccoli (slightly cooked), drain and transfer to hot skillet with olive oil, fresh garlic and sea salt. Quickly sauté in the skillet and serve hot.
Salad: Lemon Arugula Salad
Combine arugula (or mixed greens) with fresh lemon juice, olive oil and sea salt, topped with shaved Parmesan and pine nuts (can be toasted or cooked in skillet with olive oil first).
Dessert: “Frutti di Bosco” (The mixed fruit of the forest)
Fresh raspberries, blackberries, strawberries and blueberries drizzled with fresh lemon juice and a light dusting of sugar. Allow to sit for a little while before serving. Another favorite summertime dessert in Italy is peaches in a sweet white wine, served with biscotti (or a simple cookie).