27 Fast Italian Recipes for Summer
Grilled Eggplant Parmesan
This grilled-vegetable version of eggplant Parmesan, like the one Grace Parisi’s Calabrian grandmother used to make, is much lighter than the fried kind.
Spaghetti with Tomatoes, Basil, Olives, and Fresh Mozzarella
Since the tomatoes here are not cooked, you'll really notice their flavor—or lack of it. Make this sauce in the summer when fresh tomatoes are at their peak. The garlic is heated briefly in the oil, and then the garlicky oil is tossed with the spaghetti so the flavor is dispersed throughout the dish. The pasta is equally good warm and at room temperature.
Squid Pizza with Saffron Aioli
Michael Emanuel (an alumnus of Berkeley’s Chez Panisse) tops this pizza with an irresistible mix of Provençal flavors: salty-sweet roasted squid, creamy aioli and crushed red pepper (French piment d’Espelette would also work well). The remaining aioli can be used as a dip for vegetables or a spread for sandwiches.
Italian-Sausage Burgers with Garlicky Spinach
Using sausage in burgers is a smart shortcut, because the meat is already seasoned.
Fusilli with Summer Tomato Sauce
For this light, uncooked sauce, you must have perfectly ripe tomatoes. Be sure they’re at room temperature, too, not cold. In fact, tomatoes shouldn’t be refrigerated at all; chilling permanently reduces their flavor.
Grilled Eggplant and Tomatoes with Parmesan-Basil Crumbs
Fresh bread crumbs are an underrated way of adding fabulous crunch to recipes. Here Francis Mallmann uses bread crumbs tossed with fresh basil and lots of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese to create a great topping for tender grilled vegetables.
Summer Farro Salad
Marco Canora says you can swap in any starch—like bread or pasta—for the farro (a nutty Italian grain) in this recipe.
Big Italian Salad
Part green salad, part antipasto salad, this recipe combines lettuce, celery, onion, peperoncini, olives and cherry tomatoes—all tossed in a dressing made with olive oil, vinegar and a little mayonnaise. “The salad reminds me of one my mother made,” says Fran Parisi. “Her dressing had no mayo, of course—it was strictly oil and vinegar.”
Summer Squash Pizza with Goat Cheese and Walnuts
Zucchini and yellow squash can both be mild in flavor, but nothing about this tangy, herby pizza is bland. The summer squash is sliced into slender coins, then roasted in a hot oven until it’s lightly caramelized, bringing out its sweetness.
10-Minute Tomato Sauce
A tablespoon of butter makes this speedy sauce especially luxurious. Michael Schlow recommends leaving the butter out if you’re planning to freeze the sauce, and adding it during reheating.
Grilled Tomato Crostini
Slightly charred bread is the perfect vehicle for juicy summer tomatoes.
Farfalle with Zucchini and Parsley-Almond Pesto
Melissa Rubel Jacobson combines roasted almonds, parsley and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese for a nutty, fresh-tasting pesto. This pasta dish is terrific served warm, but it can also be refrigerated and served as a cold pasta salad.
Cucumber-Yogurt Soup with Pepperoncini
Pepperoncini (long, thin Italian pickled chiles) give Marcia Kiesel’s otherwise-mild soup an appealingly tangy flavor.
Giardiniera with Ham and White Beans
This recipe is a nod to the pickled vegetables (giardiniera) in the Gramercy Tavern salad. Grace Parisi quickly soaks baby cauliflower in vinegar and sugar, then combines it with snap peas, white beans, ham and sunflower seeds to create a unique main-course dish.
Orecchiette with Sausage and Chicory
Chef Michael White uses dandelion greens to give his slightly spicy sausage pasta a bitter edge, but chicory or escarole makes a great stand-in.
Zucchini Linguine with Herbs
Grace Parisi treats shredded zucchini and scallions just like the linguine in this lush dish: She tosses them all in a buttery sauce with lemon thyme and tarragon and finishes the dish with pecorino cheese.
Italian carbonara is famously rich, combining pancetta or guanciale (cured pork jowl), egg yolks and cheese. Linton Hopkins adds his own Southern accent to the dish with house-cured pork and local eggs.
Tuscan-Style Veal Chops
“Grill masters all over the world have noticed that when you grill a piece of meat and then anoint it with some kind of fat, it mixes with the meat juices and creates instant sauce,” Steven Raichlen says. “At Peter Luger Steakhouse, in Brooklyn, steaks get finished with a pat of butter; other places use beef tallow.” In Tuscany, olive oil is the fat of choice for finishing herbed veal chops like these.
Linguine with Tomatoes, Baby Zucchini and Herbs
“This dish makes you understand the less-is-more approach of Italian cooking,” says Andreas Viestad about his pasta tossed with a raw tomato-and-zucchini sauce.
Squid Ink Pasta with Asparagus
This recipe, by chefs Terrence Gallivan and Seth Siegel-Gardner, features squid ink pasta, tossed with crème fraîche, loads of herbs and asparagus that’s cooked in wine until slightly tangy. The squid ink adds mostly color, not flavor, so using any other long noodle in this dish is also fine.
Honey-Sweetened Mascarpone with Berries and Pistachios
Dahlia Narvaez adored the deliciously rich mascarpone cheese she ate in Umbria. “It’s such a great backdrop for all the different honeys made in Italy,” she says. She made this dish with delicate Umbrian wildflower honey but says stronger honeys like chestnut would also be terrific.
Bruschetta with Mozzarella and Smashed Fresh Favas
For a final garnish, drizzle the toasts with the balsamic vinegar and scatter the mint on top.
Crunchy Vegetable Salad with Ricotta Crostini
Michael White’s fennel-and-asparagus salad uses a variety of herbs, including chervil and lemon balm, but it’s equally delightful here made with just basil and tarragon.
Grilled Fish with Artichoke Caponata
To top meaty mahimahi, Michael White makes a vinegary caponata (a Sicilian relish) with fresh artichoke hearts, not the traditional tomatoes and eggplant. Trimming artichokes can be time-consuming, so buy marinated artichoke hearts from the grocery store instead.
Fresh Asparagus Pesto
Using asparagus in a pesto with olive oil, Parmigiano-Reggiano, basil and lemon juice creates a very fresh, green and spring-like sauce for pasta.
Fusilli with Shrimp and Lemon Butter
Chef Joe Cicala uses the excellent dried corn pasta produced by Rustichella d’Abruzzo. Because of its deep corn flavor, he pairs it with foods that are delicious with polenta, like shrimp.
Marinated Zucchini with Bow Ties
Garden-fresh zucchini and tomatoes make a beautiful pasta, perfect for a warm summer night's dinner. It can be served hot or at room temperature, either for four as a main course or for eight as a side dish—with grilled chicken, for instance.