It doesn’t take a Genius: Great Summer Lunch Recipes

Insalata Caprese - a great, simple summer recipe (photo by Rainer Zenz)

Looking back through world history, Italian names appear over and over for their inventions, having made some major contributions to the world.

The name of America (in honour of Florentine explorer Amerigo Vespucci after whom fellow Italian Christopher Columbus named America).

Few would let us forget Ferrari and the classic Vespa scooter either.

On the scientific side of things, there is the jacuzzi, the piano, wireless telegraph, the thermometer (thanks, Galileo) and many – really, many more – things we use every day.

(Did you know Leonardo Da Vinci invented ball bearings, wheel locks, parachutes and the bobbin – among thousands of other things of course?)

The Ferragamo fashion label is known for having invented the platform shoe, just one name in an illustrious list of some of fashion’s biggest names who hail from Italy – Gucci, Prada, Valentino, Armani, Versace, Dolce & Gabbana to name but a few.

In the kitchen, Italian inventions include spaghetti, pizza, tiramisu, gelato and a feast of dishes that have been enjoyed around the world for centuries thanks to Italian chef.

Yet despite these major world contributions, Italians have never forgotten the simple pleasures, the old-fashioned traditions that continue to stay fixed in modern society.

One exemplification of this is seen in one simple, daily tradition. Lunch.

At around 1pm, schools close, shops shut, office workers leave their desk and almost all return to their home (or at least to a nearby restaurant or café) to congregate with people they know, their family, their friends, to dine and chat over traditional dishes they have grown up with.

Over 1 to 2 hours (and more on Sundays!), Italians will slowly lunch on a pasta dish and/or a main meal, occasionally splurging out on a sweet or a piece of fruit, and concluding the meal with a bitter espresso coffee. Wine is often served with lunch, often a simple family-produced drop that may even be watered down to make it lighter to the taste and on the head!

It is over the lunch table that the family spends valuable time together, enjoying simple and well-prepared seasonal foods, unwinding for a brief period in the middle of the day.

In winter, slow-cooked sauces and stews are expertly prepared, whilst in summer the dishes are much lighter and may require little to no cooking.

There are some simple summer recipes that are so simple to make, anybody could do it.

An example is ‘Prosciutto e Melone’. Take freshly sliced melon (rock melon/cantaloupe) and serve it with shaved slices of prosciutto (Parma) ham for the simplest of summer meals, either as a fresh starter or easy main meal.

‘Insalata Caprese’ involves simply slicing fresh mozzarella cheese (preferably Buffalo for the best results) and slices of tomato (home grown of course!) and serving with freshly picked basil leaves, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a dash of salt and pepper.

Any leftovers (as if that ever happens!) can be diced and tossed through perfectly cooked pasta for  a simple no-fuss pasta recipe for dinner, and you can even add in a dash of finely crushed chilies to crank up the heat a little!

Dessert is cool gelato, panna cotta or tiramisu, chopped strawberries with lemon juice and sugar, or simply whole fresh fruit – and it is always delicious!

To learn about the traditional Italian ingredients and learn to make delicious, typical dishes before indulging in a delicious meal made by you, we have hands-on cooking classes in Florence.

If you are looking for some other great things to do in Tuscany to enjoy local cuisine, explore the Tuscan countryside in a small group,  taste Tuscan wine and the like, we have a great range of small-group Tuscany tours.

Visit a Tuscan villa on the Taste of Tuscany at the Villa wine tour. Explore the historic wine estate before undertaking a wine tasting. Tread through the terrain, enjoying spectacular views of the Tuscan countryside up-close and personal.

Stroll through the Tuscan countryside,  join us for a Perfect Morning in Tuscany small-group walking tour. Leaving from Florence’s city centre and heading to the surrounding countryside, this small-group walking tour includes, well, walking in Tuscany, as well as lunch with wine at a stunning Renaissance Villa Estate, accompanied by an expert tour guide.

If you would like to immerse yourself in the Tuscan countryside and be part of the scenery that has inspired so many great artworks, we have a small-group Best of Tuscany tour visiting Siena, San Gimignano and Monteriggioni, and stopping for lunch and wine tasting at an award-winning wine estate. See the highlights of Tuscany in one spectacular day tour from Florence – Best of Tuscany small-group tour.

Whilst our small-group Rome and Venice tours are on summer break in August, we can offer a private guide to accompanying you. We have a great range of fantastic private tours that cater to your every desire. From Florence (and Tuscany) to RomeVenice to the Cinque Terre and beyond, we are at your beck and call.

To explore other areas of Italy, can check out our Artviva Walking Tours website to read more about the tours we have to offer in Florence, RomeVeniceCinque Terre, Umbria, Naples, Pompeii and more.

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