Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Angie's Italian summer menus

One of the joys of the Italian climate is that for three months of the year you can guarantee some sort of summer. Sunny days abound and you really only need a sweater for a trip to the local open air cinema. There is something so magical about watching a film and every so often glancing up at the stars and moon, the most wonderful spectacle of all. An open air swimming pool is in walking distance for most Italians and as soon as you arrive you hear  the happy noise of Italian teenagers eyeing each other up and children in swim camps being looked after by young  goddesses who show them dance moves and keep them generally busy during the day for working mums. Even after all these years I am still enchanted and attracted to this summer way of living. I love going to the local pool, it feels like I'm on holiday and I'm just a stone's throw from home. All this to say that I have a whole repertoire of menus suited to this lovely easy summer way of living. For three months you can have a rest from cooking ,making nutritious meals that can quickly be prepared and easily produced after a morning at the pool or an afternoon in the park. Any cooking that involves the oven can be done early in the morning. I shall give the recipes for my favourites over   the summer. The secret is to do your shopping early in the day and buy little and often .Parma ham and Roast beef should be bought and eaten on the same day.

 One of our favourites is Parma ham and melon. The biggest dilemma when serving this is how to present it. You can decide to wrap the slices of melon in the ham or serve them both separately. As a starter you can wrap squares of melon with ham and secure  with a toothpick and hand them round with aperitifs. To offset the sweetness of the melon you can add some olives stuffed with almonds.

Another useful standby is Insalata di riso, Rice salad. Everybody has their own favourite recipe for this. Mine is to cook a packet of Rice , riso per insalata, al dente, drain and rinse under cold water. In a large bowl put two drained jars of special Insalata di riso mix. This is a mixture of vegetables in olive oil or brine. Sprinkle over olive oil and lemon juice and store in the fridge.This is enough for more than one meal. When ready to serve you can add a variety of other ingredients.
Cherry tomatoes, small mozzarella balls and fresh basil leaves
Drained flaked tuna fish, capers and olives
Cubes of Emmenthal or Gruyere cheese, grilled aubergines and peppers.
Chopped hard boiled eggs and cubes of ham, drained sweetcorn.

This way you will not feel as though you are serving up the same old thing.
You can keep the basic rice salad in a Tupperware container and by adding the fresh ingredients each time it stays fresh.
Here are some ideas for a summer in the sun.

Bresaola with rocket and Parmesan cheese
Thinly sliced roast beef with lemon and olive oil
Parma ham and melon
Mozzarella and tomato, Caprese
Ricotta cheese tart
Tuna fish and potato flan
Pasta Fredda,
Courgette frittata
Salmon mousse
Couscous and Ratatouille
Spanish Tortilla
Melanzane alla Parmiggiana
Pasta Fagioli

All these recipes have been in my blog already or will be
Buon appetite e Buon estate tutti

Shopping for the day

Parma ham and melon

Stuff some olives with almonds for extra taste

Italian cherries - in a class of their own

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