July is a wonderful month! There are so many fruit and vegetables at the local market that I have to shop with a large trolley bag. Menus in restaurants and trattorias are full of goodness too: fresh seasonal ingredients inspire chefs. Here is my pick of top 5 dishes to eat in Italy this month.
1. Gelo di anguria is ubiquitous in Sicily this time of year. It is a kind of delicious pudding made with watermelon, starch and sugar. It is served with fresh chopped pistachio nuts. The recipe varies in different areas of Sicily: in some places it is flavoured with cinnamon, jasmine flowers or cloves. A more modern variation calls for pieces of bitter chocolate that imitated watermelon seeds.
2. Pasta con salsa di zucchine. Homemade pasta with fresh courgettes is a match made in heaven! Normally courgettes are slightly sautéed with olive oil, garlic and parsley and served over pasta. In some regions, mostly in the North of Italy, cream is added for richer flavour.
3. Borlotti beans are in season now, so any dish with them should not be missed: pasta with fresh borlotti beans and bean soups are especially good in Tuscany.
4. Panzanella is a summer salad made in Tuscany with chunks of stale bread and juicy fresh tomatoes, simple and tasty. A similar dish exists also in Apulia: friselle con pomodori. Friselle is double baked dry bread in shape of cut in halves bagels. Traditionally they were dipped in sea water and served with olive oil and fresh chopped tomatoes. Absolutely divine washed down with a glass of local red wine!
5. Peaches! Many small restaurants in Italy serve fresh seasonal fruit after a meal. Peaches are so good in July that no dessert can beat them. Unless it is a peach dessert! In Piedmont the delicious “carlotta di pesche”, a moist sponge cake with peaches is an absolute “must” this time of year!
Photos by: Federico Soffici/Flickr, Alessandro Scarcella/Flickr