Summer is all about ease and creating seasonally refreshing dishes, so you can kick back and enjoy life. No one does this better than the Italians! They are famous for their seamless entertaining style: good food, wine, and conversation. With Italy’s variety of light cuisine options, meals can be packed with end of summer vegetables, fresh seafood, olive oil, and crisp white wines.
Here are some helpful suggestions for your next meal from Roberto Pighin, owner of Fernando Pighin & Figli Winery from the northeastern Italian region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia.
End of Summer Entertaining Tips, Italian-Style
Simply Elegant Meals
Grilling is the easiest cooking method on warm summer days. Enjoy the sunshine while grilling calamari or a whole fresh fish, such as trout or Arctic char with olive oil, garlic, and fresh herbs.
Main entrees can be appreciated with a side of pasta and garden-fresh vegetables. Grill tomatoes, squash, and peppers for a flavorful side dish or mix them in with your pasta. Fresh basil is plentiful this time of year, so make the most of it with a pesto sauce. For something classic and ultra-simple, throw together a pasta aglio e olio with garden-fresh garlic and olive oil.
Crisp White Wines
In the hot summer weather, consider a versatile bottle of white wine that will taste great with each course and refresh you while sitting poolside or in the backyard.
“When preparing for your family, pair meals with medium-bodied white wines that have fruity aromas and bright acidity,” explained Pighin. We think it would be enjoyed just as well while sitting on the stoop, socially-distant with neighbors, glass of wine in hand, and plate of pasta balanced on your knees.
A Pinot Grigio Collio, which is produced in the finest area of Pinot Grigio production within the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region of Italy, would be a great match for any alfresco event. The wine has citrus notes and white fruit on the nose and palate. It has lively acidity with a clean, fresh finish. Wines like this are ideal with simple pastas, fish dishes, risotto, or grilled chicken with lemon.
For starters, take advantage of in-season produce, such as caprese salad. Right-off-the-vine tomatoes, fragrant basil, and fresh mozzarella are refreshing ways to whet the appetite. Certain light cheeses, such as fontal, gruyere, and parmigiano reggiano pair well with crisp white wines.
A tasty alternative is a seafood platter or shrimp cocktail. Pighin shared an innovative twist on the classic shrimp cocktail:
Shrimp and Mango Mint Cocktail
- 12 fresh jumbo shrimp
- Ripe mango
- 2 Tbsp. of apple cider vinegar
- 5 fresh mint leaves
- Fresh peeled ginger
- 1/2 gallon of water
- 1 large carrot
- 2-3 celery stalks
- 1/2 white onion
Mango Mint Topping:
- Combine into a mixer: peeled mango, apple cider vinegar, 3 fresh mint leaves, peeled ginger
- Mix until creamy and refrigerate for 2 hours.
- Wash and de-vein shrimp in fresh water.
- Boil 1/2 gallon of water in a deep pot with sliced carrots, celery, half an onion and a pinch of sea salt for 15 minutes.
Add shrimp to the pot to boil for 4 minutes and drain.
- Let cool.
- Pile shrimp into martini glasses and top with mango-mint topping, garnish with remaining mint leaves and pieces of mango.
Serve with a glass Pighin Pinot Grigio Collio DOC. Recipe serves four.
After this meal, you will be light on your feet but satisfied with a meal fit to close the summer season.