Summer changes our relationship to food: we feel the need for lighter recipes, we crave fresh produce and we find our interest in condiments drops dramatically. When ordering the catering for your next corporate event, you should take this into account: you don’t want your guests to doze off after lunch, particularly if you have important activities planned for the afternoon. How do you plan the perfect summer catering? Take a look at Italian cuisine. Italy, being a country with hot summers and relatively mild winters, has developed a culinary tradition that treats summer as a whole different universe, where food is concerned. Heavy or fat-rich condiments are pretty much absent from Italian tables throughout the hot season and fresh fruit and vegetables are used in original and delicious combinations. If you want to make sure your guests pay attention to your afternoon presentation, check out our tips for the perfect Italian catering and try them out at your summer events!
How to plan the perfect Italian-style summer catering for your event
Craving pasta? Go whole wheat!
You would be surprised by the number of Italian households that cut down dramatically on their consumption of pasta in the summer. If, however, you want your event’s catering to have an authentic Italian vibe and you can’t resist the inviting look and comforting texture of a good pasta dish, you can still make sure your first course is light enough not to require your guests to take a nap afterwards. Try whole wheat or spelt pasta with a fresh vegetable topping. Avoid cream-based condiments, butter and meat sauces (sorry, this means you shouldn’t serve either ragù or carbonara). Fresh tomatoes, grilled vegetables and plenty of basil should be your main topping ingredients. This kind of pasta recipe, consumed in moderation, is light and easy to digest, while still being the perfect comfort food.
Go easy on the condiments
We have already established that cream and butter have no place on your summer catering table, but what about other condiments? In this season, less is more. Forget mayonnaise and don’t even think about mustard. Extra virgin olive oil, in this season, should be the be all and end all of your condiments for a summer catering. And you should not go overboard with it either. The ideal amount of olive oil for a light seasoning is one and a half teaspoon per person, per meal. It is also crucial to add it raw, as a last touch, not cook your recipes in it. Even stir-fries are to be avoided in this weather. If you are serving fish- or meat-based recipes, avoid sauces and use plenty of lemon juice to season them. Salt lightly and spice up your recipes with whole grains of black or red pepper.
Fresh fruit galore!
Fresh fruit is a summer classic. If you have the option of choosing fruit that is traditionally grown in Mediterranean climates, use it to make mouth-watering fruit salads. Cherries, watermelon, peaches, apricots, and nectarines will provide your guests with a much needed (and yet healthy) sugar rush at the end of their meal, leaving them feeling energised and ready to get back into the flow of your event. If you want to add a tasty treat to your menu, avoid desserts and serve figs: their sticky deliciousness provides an equally tasty – but lighter – alternative to a slice of cake.
Fancy a gelato? Have a granita instead!
We will not, in the context of this post, enter into the debate on whether gelato and ice cream are the same thing (they are) and on whether gelato is just an Italian word that English-speaking Countries have adopted to mean “fancy ice cream” (it is). The bottom line is: we know you will want to end your lunch on a sweet note and, for a summer catering, you might be tempted to treat your guests to a sinful cup of gelato. We suggest you try a granita instead. This iced treat is a Sicilian classic and, unlike ice cream, it is water based, not milk based, which makes it lighter and easier to digest, while being equally delicious. If you want to give your summer catering a true Italian vibe, choose traditional Sicilian flavours, such as almond, coffee, pistachio, lemon or mulberry.