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Authentic Southern Italian Cuisine
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Spring, Italian Style

April 15, 2012 Carlino's Restaurant no comments
"Celebrate Spring with bruschetta"
“Celebrate Spring with bruschetta”

Spring means gloriously long afternoons and the kind of weather that inspires you to spend every moment outside. New York and Naples share a line of latitude, so the same lengthening days that entice you outside are also luring Neapolitans outdoors. A balmy Mediterranean spring means more than just gorgeous weather and more sunshine, though; it also means a bounty of exquisitely fresh fruits and vegetables. You’ll find some of spring’s freshest flavors on Carlino’s menu, too.

The Italian word for spring is primavera, and you can enjoy its fullest flavor in pasta primavera. As its name implies, the dish is a celebration of spring; vegetables are the star here, and pasta plays a delicious supporting role. This culinary creation of pasta, grated Parmesan cheese and a bouquet of colorful fresh vegetables has roots both in Italy and in America. Italians contributed the fresh, bright spring flavors of olive oil, Parmesan cheese and vegetables to the dish; when it came to America, it acquired its silky, creamy sauce. Enjoy a plate of pasta primavera with a slice of crusty Italian bread or tangy bruschetta.

"Insalata Caprese from the Bay of Naples"
“Insalata Caprese from the Bay of Naples”

Another favorite that appears on Italian tables in the spring is tricolore salad. This refreshing dish pays homage to the red, white and green of the Italian flag in the most delicious way. Every household has its own version; around the Bay of Naples, insalata Caprese, or Capri-style salad, is the most popular. A simple preparation of fresh mozzarella cheese, snipped sweet basil leaves and ripe red tomatoes with just enough sea salt and black pepper to bring out its flavor, this take on tricolore salad unites three classic Italian flavors in one flawless dish. Other versions switch tomatoes for sweet red peppers or rest on a bed of green lettuce, but every recipe is a springtime delight.

When spring turns especially warm, nothing tastes more refreshing than a salad that perfectly blends sweet and savory flavors in a profusion of spring color. Carlino’s fruit salad echoes the magnificent salads that grace Italian tables. Fresh greens, fruits, cheeses and balsamic vinegar come together in a salad that’s bursting with lively flavor. The mixture of fruit, cheese and balsamic vinegar’s sweet tanginess comes from Renaissance dishes that regularly mixed sweet and savory tastes in surprising harmony.

You might not consider pizza a spring treat, but even this classic gets a lift when the weather turns warmer. The artichokes, peppers and tomatoes that top a pizza taste a little brighter when they’re in season. Cows that eat tender spring grass give sweeter milk for mozzarella cheese, so many Italians reserve the traditional pizza margarita for spring. The next time you sit down to a slice, savor it and see if you can taste that little extra “Wow!” that comes with the season.

Celebrate primavera with a meal that makes the most of it at Carlino’s.

Sincerely, Carlo, Wali and all your friends at Carlino’s

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