After a few months of beach days, barbecues and camping trips, hitting those latter summer months (hello September) can be a little heartbreaking. Sure, it’s still hot, but you’re gearing up to send the kids back to school and it doesn’t feel quite as summery as it did in mid-July. Sigh.
Well, snap out of it. Summer isn’t over until we say it’s over.
The best way to keep it feeling like the best season* (*an objective fact) is to fill your table and your belly with fresh dishes that transport you to a warm Italian seascape. Yes, we’re talking about Michael Bonacini‘s authentic Italian cooking. Here are our best suggestions for what to make to snap you out of an end-of-summer funk.
Want summer to hang around a little longer? Grab yourself some fresh tuna. This bright dish (video above), is quite easy to make. The star player (hunky tuna) is accompanied with salty pancetta, delicious passata (pasta sauce) and a generous helping of olives. What a brilliant creation!
This little ditty is simple and summery and uses all the best veggies the season has to offer. It’s a pretty standard Mediterranean salad with a red wine vinaigrette (which never gets old) with the added deliciousness of country-style crispy bread for a little heartiness. Pair it with a glass of wine and you’re immediately living your patio life to the fullest.
Panna cotta may not be the first thing to pop into your mind when you think “summer desserts” but this chilled dish’s versatile nature lends itself perfectly to whatever fruit is in season. Berries, peaches, nectarines, apricots, you name it, it can go atop this beautifully-formed panna cotta.
What says “summer’s still here” better than a pan of freshly grilled vegetables? Bonacini demonstrates cooking them in the oven, but there’s nothing stopping you from dropping ’em in a grill basket on the barbecue for that added smoky flavour (and a scent to make your neighbours envious). Plus that garlicky dip makes for the perfect backyard barbecue appetizer.
Spring, summer, this frittata can’t be pinned down to just one season. Why would we do that to ourselves? This recipe starts with Italian sausage and pancetta, Michael adds in arugula, artichoke hearts and asparagus and finishes with a concoction of classic Italian herbs. The best part? It’s a frittata so it’s ten times healthier than it’s cousin the quiche (you know, depending on if you can stop at just one piece).
Okay, not going to lie, we were a little skeptical when Michael Bonacini told us we could make our own nougat. Isn’t that something reserved for chocolate bar manufacturers, Italian bakeries and gods? While this recipe has some technical elements to it (i.e. heating and tempering egg whites) it’s totally worth it. Plus, just think about the domestic points you’ll get when you casually ask your friends to try the nougat you made.
Farro is often more of a fall or winter grain, but with all the fresh veggies and the light, lemony sauce in this dish, we’re 100 per cent on board for repurposing it for summer. Plus, if you’re grilling the zucchini, eggplant, peppers and mushrooms, this salad is just begging for a place at your next barbecue.
Did somebody say mojito? These ribs are like our favourite cocktail in meat form and we could eat an entire rack ourselves. The real secret to getting the best flavour is using fresh lime and fresh mint. It’s summer, now is not the time for dried herbs and bottled juices.
When it comes to summer desserts, it’s all about fruit flavours. Fresh berries, watermelon and citrus fruits are all nice, but you know what fruit we’re all sleeping on? The humble fig. Michael Bonacini’s pastry wheel recipe puts that versatile little fruit front and center with a fig and honey glaze that’s to die for. We could eat these all day.
Pasta might seem more like a warm comfort food fit for colder months, but this recipe is a perfect example of why we need to stamp out that stigma and fast. Not only is orchiette one of the cutest pastas ever created by man (yes, pasta can be cute), pairing it with fresh rapini and a light garlicky sauce makes it the perfect summer pasta dish to take you right into fall, and then winter, and then spring. Who are we kidding, we’ll be having this weekly from here on out.
Want to see more of Bonacini’s creations? Catch Bonacini’s Italy, Mondays at 10:30 p.m. ET.