Even though the majority of March gusts with a winter chill, the hope and warmth of a spring renewal is most definitely in the air! And here at Paesana, spring’s long-anticipated arrival heralds the return of some of our favorite Italian dishes. Fresh fruits and vegetables, bright colors and crisp textures—as the days get longer, it’s all waiting to be cultivated for mealtime.
There are many classic Italian dishes that are at their best in the springtime. To inspire you in the kitchen, we’ve harvested five dishes we believe truly exemplify an Italian-flavored spring season. As the weather warms, these ingredients will get easier and easier to procure at your local grocery store. Start meal planning now to take advantage of peak freshness!
Photo Credit: Bon Appetit
Fried Zucchini Blossoms
Key Ingredient: Zucchini Blossom
Availability: Late Spring, Through Summer and Into Early Fall
The very best Italian appetizers are crunchy, salty, and addictive—fried zucchini blossoms deliver on all these counts. Sure, it might be somewhat strange that a flower could be enjoyed as a fried appetizer, but zucchini flowers are absolutely perfect for this application. Delicate, with a deep yellow hue, these blossoms are a fleeting luxury and a burst of ephemeral summer rejuvenation. And while they can be cut up and used like radishes on a salad, we love to batter and fry zucchini blossoms plain or stuff them with meat and cheese. For the simplest preparation, all you need is all-purpose four and salt, club soda or a lager-style beer for the batter, vegetable oil to fry them in, and a sturdy pot. Here’s a recipe we love to use.
Photo Credit: Not Another Cooking Show
Pasta al Limone
Key Ingredient: Lemon
Availability: All Year
While lemons are extremely easy to find any time of year, there’s something about the zesty zip of this citrus butter sauce that really evokes warm weather feelings. A cousin of pasta aglio olio, pasta al limone is a creamy emulsion of oil, lemon, and pasta water—simple ingredients that come together to make an indulgent dish that’s somehow both comforting and brightly eye opening. Spaghetti is the go-to pasta for this dish, and you’ll also need butter, and parm, along with the zest and juice of lemons. This recipe is easy to follow and delicious!
Photo Credit: Elise Bauer | Simply Recipes
Fava Beans Salad
Key Ingredient: Fava Beans (Broad Beans)
Availability: Start appearing in May and peak in July
Fava beans (also known as broad beans) make a delightfully fresh side dish or salad, matching perfectly with roasted chicken or grilled steak. Most grocery stores stock the dired variety all year round, but these beans are at their best when they’re found fresh during early spring and into the summertime. While they involve some hard work in the preparation—you have to shuck them twice—the flavorful payoff is well worth the effort. Fava beans truly sing when prepared with fennel, parm, scallions, lemon juice, and mint. Bookmark this easy to follow recipe!
Key Ingredient: Asparagus
Availability: The end of February through June, with peak in April
There’s the precious, yet large white asparagus of northern Italy and the skinny, flavorful green counterparts that grow wild throughout the Italian countryside. No matter the color, spring is the season for the absolute best asparagus. This deliciously singular vegetable makes an amazing ingredient in risotto, with the soft, supple, silky rice acting as the perfect accompaniment to crisp, fresh asparagus. We developed our own risotto recipe here using mushrooms, but you can easily swap out mushrooms in favor of asparagus. You can also go here to check out another recipe.
Photo Credit: Food.com
Dolce di Ciliegie
Key Ingredient: Cherries
Availability: May through August
Cherries are arguably the single greatest summertime fruit—especially the sweet variety that’s available starting in May and ending in August. Dolce di Ciliegie, an old-fashioned cherry chake, is made only with fresh cherries, never the candied or Maraschino cherries and is impossibly moist and the perfect capper to a fresh spring or summer meal. While baking is also a tad more complicated and involved than any other type of cooking, the end result could become your go-to dessert whenever the weather begins to warm. We found a great recipe here, just don’t forget to remove the pits!