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Almost every summer, we take a family vacation sailing around the Mediterranean for a couple of weeks, and inevitably, we visit the incredibly beautiful island of Capri, in the Bay of Napoli. The people of Capri have coopted the classic tri-colore combination of tomato, mozzarella, and basil and called it their own: if these three ingredients define a salad, it’s called Caprese. Lucky for them!
How to make any vegetable side dish better: prosciutto… and pesto! This is such a great side dish for spring and summer when you’re ready to get outside and grill. The rich pesto gets a hint of lemon to brighten it up, and it pairs so well with the savory prosciutto and zucchini.
Caprese skewers are a great appetizer, but I like to take it to the next level by using sun-dried tomatoes. They’re so deeply flavorful, and pair perfectly with the bright herbaceous basil and some fresh mozzarella. This appetizer couldn’t be easier to throw together, and everyone always loves it!
Eggplant caponata is sometimes referred to as the Italian version of the French Ratatouille, as it follows a similar procedure: eggplant and other vegetables cooked down until tender, delicious and flavorful. The big difference with Caponata is that it’s flavored with red wine vinegar, capers, a touch of sugar, and raisins (trust me!) that add a wonderful sweet acidity to the dish.
If you enjoy serving melon and prosciutto in the summer months, try this cold-weather version with fall fruits and spices. Use petite Forelle pears, if you can find them, because they are the perfect size, but Bosc or Red Bartlett works well, too. Buy the pears a touch under ripe, because you don’t want them to get too soft and fall apart when you cook them!
Cheesy, baked dips (with golden brown tops after a broil in the oven) are the ultimate crowd-pleasing appetizer in the cooler months. This dip boasts great flavor from tangy goat cheese, honey, garlic and fresh thyme. Dunk all your favorite crackers and crudites into this super easy-to-whip-up dip, and pour the wine for a great pre-dinner snack.
In Italian, the word “crudo” refers to “raw” – you’ll often see it in reference to seafood, or beef carpaccio. For this recipe, I prepared zucchini and asparagus in the same way – very similar to a carpaccio, in fact – with thin slices, a bright vinaigrette, and shaved Pecorino. It's bright and fresh, the perfect summer appetizer or side dish! Plus, it's a great make-ahead dish for busy days.
This easy summer appetizer takes just minutes to whip up. Everyone loves shrimp cocktail, and this peach version is a fresh upgrade for the season. Fresh peaches give the cocktail sauce some welcome sweetness that pair deliciously with the grilled shrimp! They're great for a summer party, or just as an appetizer for dinner with the family.
This tomato tart is a really perfect appetizer to throw together in the summer. Puff pastry makes a flaky, buttery crust that serves as a vehicle to delicious seasonal flavors. A creamy blend of mascarpone, goat cheese and shallots are the base for this tart, and perfectly ripe tomatoes are the star. They get even sweeter as they roast in the oven, and with a drizzle of balsamic glaze, a sprinkle of chives and sea salt, it’s a showstopping summer party dish.
These crostini are a summer entertaining staple. So many people love the taste of a Caprese salad – myself included! – and this is a fun way to reimagine the beloved flavors. Crispy crostini, tomato, gooey cheese, basil, olive oil, salt and pepper – it’s simplicity at its finest, and everyone always loves it! For this recipe, you can take the prep even further – have your mozzarella and tomatoes already sliced in advance, and all you have to do is a quick stack before toasting it in the oven.
I love artichokes. These cheesy baked artichokes are a fun new awakening for this delicious vegetable. This recipe is so great because it’s like the artichoke and the dipping sauce in one. I stuff these with a flavorful gorgonzola mixture. If you don’t like the strong flavor of that type of cheese at all, you can play with different cheeses too – a mix of mozzarella or fontina with Parmesan would be equally delicious.
These shrimp in endive cups make a wonderful appetizer, happy hour nibble, or a lovely bite for a luncheon. The cool, creamy parsley sauce with the crisp endive leaf make this a really refreshing bite – perfect for warmer days. To make this recipe extra simple, prepare the shrimp several hours ahead of when you need to serve and store in the fridge, covered. The parsley sauce can also be made in advance!
Italian barbecue shrimp is a must-have appetizer for your spring dinner parties! The shrimp are marinated in a super flavorful mix of Italian spices, and after an hour of marinating, they cook up in mere minutes. It couldn't be easier! Serve with a bowl of marinara for an Italian spin on shrimp cocktail.
A crostata is a common pastry in Italy, and it can be made in a sweet or savory fashion. It’s essentially a rustic, open-faced pie – so say goodbye to the pressure of making a perfect pie! We piled this one high with super sweet, caramelized Vidalia onions, which when in season, are really the best onion to use. Paired with the creamy tang of goat cheese, a buttery pie crust and some freshly dressed arugula, this one is an absolute crowd-pleaser!
This tomato tart is a really perfect dish to throw together in the spring. Puff pastry makes a flaky, buttery crust that serves as a vehicle to delicious seasonal flavors. A creamy blend of mascarpone, goat cheese and shallots are the base for this tart, and perfectly ripe tomatoes are the star. They get even sweeter as they roast in the oven, and with a drizzle of balsamic glaze, a sprinkle of chives and sea salt, it’s a showstopping spring appetizer.