Light Italian Meals for Sticky Weather

My favorite Italian dish is a hearty pork ragu from food writer and cookbook author Domenica Marchetti's book Big Night In. It's too heavy for summer, so I asked Marchetti, whose newest cookbook, The Glorious Pasta of Italy (Chronicle), comes out next year, to share her thoughts on lighter Italian fare.

Here's what she suggests:

What are your favorite summer dishes?

DM: We do a lot of simply grilled meats in summer, such as beef tagliata (grilled and thinly sliced beef), dressed simply with good olive oil; and grilled butterflied chicken with herbs and garlic. I also love to make Insalata di Riso (rice salad) and Farro Salad, both of which can be made ahead and invite improvisation. You can add olives, good canned tuna in olive oil, chopped celery or fennel, sun-dried or fresh tomatoes, crisp green beans, hard-boiled eggs — you name it. These salads are served chilled or at room temperature.

What do you make when you're entertaining?

DM: One of my favorites is the Overnight-Marinated Swordfish Stew from my first book, The Glorious Soups and Stews of Italy. It is incredibly simple and never fails to impress. All of the ingredients — fish, onions, fresh cherry tomatoes, olives, aromatics, and olive oil— go into a pot with a lid. The stew marinates in the refrigerator overnight and then is cooked on the stovetop at a low temperature the next day. I serve it with bruschetta to sop up the brothy sauce.

What is your favorite summertime dessert?

DM: It's hard to beat fresh fruit as a dessert in summer. Almost every evening after dinner I cut up a perfectly ripe peach right into my wine glass. Let it macerate for five minutes and enjoy it straight out of the glass.

Need more inspiration and ideas? Check out some of our favorite light Italian meals!

Spaghetti with Clams

Simple Summer Pasta

Grilled Vegetable Salad Capri-Style

Farfalle with Tuna, Wilted Spinach and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Linguini with Scallops

Grilled Italian Chicken

Italian Picnic Salad

What's your favorite Italian-inspired summer meal? Chime in below!

Like this? Read these!
- Easy Italian Recipes
- The Daily Feed: Spectacular Summer Appetizers
- The Daily Feed: Essential Secrets to Cedar Plank Grilling


Cheryl Sternman Rule is a widely-published food writer and the voice behind the blog 5 Second Rule. Read all of Cheryl's iVillage posts here.

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