Summer is in full swing and the heat has officially been turned up! Italian food is not all hot soups and heavy pastas. It’s time to bring Italian cuisine to your back yard. With a focus on seasonal vegetables and LOTS of olive oil, it’s time to let Italy do the cooking. We’ve compiled some of our favorites and we hope you’ll incorporate them into your menu!
Fried Caprese Salad
What’s not to like about fresh tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and basil, sprinkled with kosher salt and drizzled with the finest Extra Virgin Olive Oil? We take it to the next level by frying up the Mozzarella using some panko bread crumbs!
What You Will Need:
- 1 large tomato – sliced into 3 – 1/2″ rounds
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1 egg – beaten
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs
- 1 cup canola oil
- 1 Ball of Fresh Mozzarella – sliced into 3 – 1/2″ rounds
- 6 fresh basil leaves
- Balsamic cream
What To Do:
- Season tomato slices with salt and pepper and place onto a plate lined with paper towels. Set aside.
- Place flour, egg, and panko into 3 separate shallow bowls for dredging.
- Dip tomato slice into flour. Lightly tap to remove excess. Dip into egg and then into panko. Transfer to plate and continue with remaining tomatoes.
- Into a medium sized skillet add oil and heat over medium heat. When hot, add tomato slices and cook for approximately 30 seconds on each side OR until golden. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels. Season with salt.
- To assemble: tomato, mozzarella, 3 basil leaves. Continue with two additional layers. Garnish with a drizzle of balsamic cream.
Recipe Courtesy of Paula Jones
Summer Italian Pasta
This light yet hearty (is that even possible?) pasta is a summertime favorite. Skip the sauce and incorporate fresh seasonal veggies and you’ll be a rock star at your next summer dinner party.
- 1 pound tube pasta
- 1 pound spicy Italian sausage
- 1 bunch broccoli rabe
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, roasted
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
- 1 tablespoon fresh oregano
- Salt and pepper
- Pasta water
- Get a large part of boiling water ready and salt it nicely. I like to use about a tablespoon of kosher salt per gallon of water. You can just eyeball, but the water should taste salty.
- Cut off the thick stems on the rabe and dunk it in the water for 60-90 seconds until it is just wilted, but still has a tiny bit of crunch. Then drain the rabe and let it cool.
- Save the water in the pot (I just pull the rabe out with tongs) so you can cook the pasta in the same water.
- Once the rabe is cool enough to handle, roughly chop it up.
- The second ingredient is tomatoes. I do not use any sort of sauce for this recipe, but I do roast about a pint of cherry tomatoes and add them in. These little guys add an intense tomato flavor without making the dish really heavy with a thick sauce.
- I just half the tomatoes, drizzle them with olive oil and a pinch of salt and roast them at 400 degrees F., cut side up, for about 20 minutes. They will be lightly charred on the bottom and wilted.
- Third is the sausage. A spicy Italian sausage obviously brings a lot of flavor to the dish. The key to cooking the sausage right for this dish is to start them on fairly low heat so they slowly cook and render out the fat in the sausage. Brown them for about 5-6 minutes per side.
- Cook the pasta according to the package!
- Once the sausage has browned on all sides, take it out of the pan and cut it into disks. It’s possible that the sausage won’t be completely cooked through at this point, which is fine. Toss it back into the pan with the garlic and a drizzle of oil if the pan is dry. Keep the heat on medium-low and continue to cook for 5-6 minutes to finish cooking the sausage.
- It’s important to stir regularly at this point or you’ll burn the garlic.
- Then you can stir in the broccoli rabe!
- While there are three ingredients that make up the backbone of this Broccoli Rabe Sausage Pasta, the most important ingredient is none of them. It’s actually the pasta water. This water is starchy and salty and perfect for making a light sauce in the pan.
- Once the sausage and rabe has cooked for a minute or two, pour in about 2/3 of a cup of the pasta water. It’s best to do this right before you drain the pasta so it’s as starchy as possible.
- Then add in your tomatoes and all those ingredients will essentially make a very light sauce.
- Then just toss in your drained pasta! Don’t worry about draining the pasta perfectly. Some liquid with the pasta is good to keep the sauce going.
- Stir that all together well (tongs are your friend) and season the dish with salt, pepper, fresh oregano, and lots of Parmesan cheese.
- Serve that up and you’re in for a treat!
Recipe courtesy of Macheesmo Cooking with Confidence
Olive Oil Gelato
Read the name again. Tell us you aren’t drooling. We dare you.
Serves 2 to 4
- 3/4cup sugar
- 1/4cup plus 2 tablespoons water
- 3/4cup whole milk
- Large pinch salt
- 4egg yolks
- 1/4cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
- In a medium-size saucepan stir together the sugar, water, milk, and salt and heat until bubbles form around the edge of the pan. In a separate bowl beat the egg yolks until frothy. Continue beating whilst pouring in the combined liquids in a thin stream, then return the mixture to the pan. Carry on stirring with the pan over a low to moderate heat until the custard thickens to a loose custard sauce consistency or reaches 185 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. (Take your time and take the pan off the heat, if needed, because you don’t want to scramble the egg). Immediately pour the custard into a bowl and set the bowl in an ice water bath. Stir until the mixture is cool. Transfer to a lidded container, and refrigerate overnight.
- Whisk in 1/4 cup olive oil in a thin steady stream — the mixture should thicken and turn smooth. Taste the mixture and decide if you want to add the remaining 2 tablespoons oil — the oil flavor will become more prominent as the ice cream ages, so keep this in mind. Churn in an ice cream maker following manufacturer’s instructions. Eat right away, or transfer to a container and freeze until ready to eat.
Courtesy of Amanda Hesser