June 2 is celebrated in Italy as the day that the country voted to stop being a monarchy, and instead become a republic. (The short way of explaining it: “Italian 4th of July.”) The day is celebrated in Rome with a tremendous parade, and with local celebrations throughout the nation.
In these articles, we generally aim to bring insight for authentic Italian experiences and traditions. Today, we’re going to part ways and focus on doing an Italian thing with American flair. What’s the traditional Independence Day food in Georgia? For better or worse, it’s anything we can prepare in a color scheme of red, white, and blue. (Strawberry-blueberry cake with whipped cream? Yes, please. Mountain Berry Blast Powerade with a side of watermelon and marshmallows? …Um, maybe later.)
So, in the spirit of bringing the heart of Atlanta to a celebration of democracy in Italy, we bring you authentic Italian meals… that happen to be the colors of the Italian flag. Enjoy these red, white, and green dishes this Republic Day, or any other time!
With hand-made crust, whole-milk mozzarella, ripe tomatoes, and fresh basil, this staple of Italian (and Italian-American) cuisine is a treat for adults and fussy toddlers alike. Use this recipe from Eataly, or celebrate independence by picking a frozen one up from Trader Joe’s. (They’re made in Italy, and trust me when I tell you that they’re really good.) If you go with the latter option, add some fresh basil after baking–– the frozen pizza has little basil flakes, but it won’t give you an appropriate shade of bright green for the day’s festivities.
Or try it as my favorite salad:
Caprese! I must sing its name. I don’t know what it is about a ripe heirloom tomato over a thick slice of mozzarella, topped with a basil leaf, balsamic vinegar, and more salt than is probably advisable. I could eat it every day. And that’s the whole recipe. You’ve got this.
I know, I know, I talked about our Strawberry Pizza on the Mother’s Day post. But what can I say? We make a darn fine strawberry pizza, and I can’t stop thinking about it. You can find this on our dessert menu, or try your hand at home with this savory recipe from A Mindful Mom.
Or try it as my second-favorite salad:
Strawberries, arugula, feta cheese, and a balsamic vinaigrette. It’s easy and delicious, though the feta cheese does make it less “authentic Italian” and more of “that thing I picked up from my Norwegian-American aunt in Virginia.” But the colors are vibrant and perfect, and no authentic Italian chef would frown upon eating these fresh and in-season fruits, vegetables, and cheeses. And, again, that’s the whole recipe. You can do it!
Here’s where you can let your inner artist shine, regardless of your level of culinary skill. With an array of salamis, green olives, and cheeses, you could make a pretty great Italian flag for your Republic Day party spread. (And, it should be noted, Italy does not have as stringent a flag code as the United States does. If your party is festive and respectful, your charcuterie flag will be met with cheer.)
Pesto Pasta with Roma Tomatoes
This recipe from Italian Food Forever assumes that you are among the many windowsill gardeners with more basil than you know what to do with by June. But what if you, like me, couldn’t keep an herb garden alive if your life depended on it? Though pesto is traditionally made with basil, you can substitute arugula (like in this Food Network recipe from chef Michael Chiarello), spinach (as in this recipe for Fettuccine with spinach pesto from Martha Stewart), or kale (as in this recipe from Epicurious), all with delicious results, and all in the desired color scheme for the day.
As always, we welcome you to join us in the dining room for an array of authentic Italian dishes, several of which come in an aesthetically appealing red, white, and green––including tortellini, arugula antipasti, linguine with prosciutto and broccoli, and my beloved Strawberry pizza.