Between the tomatoes, the basil, and the easy-cooking fresh pasta, Italian cuisine tends to be my go-to inspiration in the summer. Knowing a few basic Italian-inspired (and Italian-American!) recipes can help you throw together fresh, impromptu meals in the summer with a minimum of recipe research and prep. Throw fresh tomatoes on a bed of quick pizza dough and grill; make a last-minute batch of fresh pasta, and toss with basil and ricotta. Read on for 15 classic Italian-inspired recipes we think everyone should know.
• 1 How To Grill Pizza - A grilled pizza is as good as it gets in the summertime. Here are clear instructions for making great pizza on the grill.
• 2 Homemade Thin Crust Pizza - And if you need a dough recipe, here's a good one — it needs almost no rise time. Mix it and use it right away.
Pasta — the base of so many great Italian dishes. Start off with fresh, homemade pasta (it's really not hard) and then toss it with meat, greens, and cheese for your impromptu Italian supper. Extra credit if you use pesto.
• 3 Pasta with Mint Pesto, Peas and Ricotta Salata - A great example of how just a handful of vegetables and cheese transforms pasta into a real meal.
• 4 How To Make Lasagna - Everyone should know how to make lasagna!
• 5 Lighter Stuffed Pasta Shells - Another great way to turn pasta into a meal.
Any one of these sauces will make leftover sausage or a quick bowl of pasta into a great meal.
• 6 Basic Tomato Sauce (with Optional Zing!) - A simple, basic tomato sauce.
• 7 Slow-Cooked Bolognese Sauce - That classic, slow-cooked Italian flavor with a heaping helping of meat. Make in the slow cooker to keep your kitchen cool.
• 8 Uncooked Tomato Sauce - Or go the other direction and make sauce with no cooking at all.
These delicious meatball recipes are also good grilled. Use a grill basket or string them on bamboo skewers.
• 9 Totally Tender Meatballs in Tomato Sauce - Old-fashioned meatballs, tender and tasty.
• 10 Turkey Meatballs over Greens - A healthier, lighter approach to meatballs. Serve over any greens from the garden or your CSA box.
RISOTTO, GNOCCHI & POLENTA
Pasta gets all the starchy glory, but it's not the only carb in the Italian cook's repertoire. Try one of these easy meal bases.
• 11 Easy Ricotta Gnocchi - Tender little dumplings.
• 12 Red Pepper, Sausage, and Chard Risotto - A simple risotto with summer vegetables.
• 13 Homemade Piadinas - Sort of like an Italian burrito!
• 14 How To Make a Quick Bowl of Polenta in the Microwave - Polenta is good for so many things, and it's easy to make in the microwave.
• 15 Eggy, Crispy Polenta with Tomatoes & Mushrooms - An easy dinner, lunch, or even breakfast.
What are your go-to Italian recipes in the summertime?
More on Italian Cooking
• How To Make Pasta: Tips From My Italian-Mother-in-Law
• 10 of Our Favorite Ingredients for Italian Cooking
• Cooking By Feel: Italian Ingredients and Flavors
(Images: See linked recipe for full image credits)