Italians 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 summer vegetables, fresh seafood, olive oil and crisp white wines.
Here are some helpful suggestions for your next summer celebration from Roberto Pighin, owner of Fernando Pighin & Figli Winery.
Simply Elegant Meals
Grilling is the most social and simple cooking method during the summer. Enjoy the sunshine with friends 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 vegetables. Grill tomatoes, squash and peppers for a flavorful side dish. Fresh basil is plentiful in summer, so make the most of it with a pesto pasta sauce. If you are more classic, toss your pasta 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 guests while sitting poolside or in the backyard.
“When preparing for a summer gathering, pair meals with medium-bodied white wines that have fruity aromas and bright acidity, explained Pighin, whose winery produces high quality products that are easy-drinking in warm weather.
A Pinot Grigio Collio, 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 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 appetites. Certain light cheeses, such as fontal, gruyere, 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 that will be sure to please: 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 stalk
• 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 devein 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 & Figili Pinot Grigio Collio D.O.C. Recipe serves four.
After this meal, your guests will be light on their feet with food and wine fit for the season.