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Cooking on vacation: 7 no-fuss Summer meals

easy meals to cook on vacation

While you’ll most likely want to eat your way around Italy, trying as many restaurants as possible (and you definitely should!), there are times when leaving the comfort of your home seems impossible.

It is at this time that renting a villa or apartment is better than a hotel, but you’re also on holiday and slaving away in the kitchen it may not be something you’re keen to do.

This is why we’ve put together a list of no-cook recipes that make the most of Italy’s exceptional ingredients and take less than 10 minutes to prepare.

Simplicity is the key to Italian cuisine, if an ingredient is good, it doesn’t need sauces, complex cooking techniques to taste amazing. For this reason, it’s not uncommon for Italians to eat paired-down meals of fruit and cheese in Summer, when turning on the stove or the oven in the heat isn’t really something you wish to do.

So, you foresee a few at-home meals during your vacation, here’s the perfect shopping list to avoid waste and left-overs. It’s short and it contains versatile ingredients that are easy to find at any supermarket or at local shops.


The shopping list

Bread loaf. Ask for ‘pane di campagna’ as it’s the most versatile, you can prepare bruschetta and delicious paninis. It’s saltless and crusty, it will last 2-3 days, after which it’ll go stale (when it’s then used for soups, ‘panzanella‘ and ‘pappa al pomodoro‘).
For better quality, you may want to purchase it at a ‘panificio’ (a bakery) as it’s done on-site.

Tomatoes. The kings of Italian cuisine, they’re in season in Summer and are ripe and juicy and excellent to eat raw.
Zucchini. If they’re slim enough, they’re great eaten raw, deliciously crunchy and fresh.
Salad greens. The ultimate no-cook dish! Add a couple of ingredients, a drizzle of olive oil and lemon juice and that’s it.
Basil leaves. To add aroma to your dishes.Fruit
Lemons. For cooking and dressing or to flavour water.
Cantaloupe melon. A sweet orange fruit that pairs well with prosciutto.
Watermelon. Great as a snack or as an after-meal palate cleanser.
Peaches. Delicious with gelato, in salads or on their own.
Pears. To serve with cheese.
Any other fruit in season, like ’susine’ (plums), ‘albicocche’ (apricots), ’nespole’ (medlars).

Little shops (‘erbivendolo’, ‘fruttivendolo’, ‘fruttaiolo’ or ‘ortolano’) usually have a greater selection of local produce than the supermarket, check those or venture to the farmer’s market (‘mercato’) on market day for great deals.

Cold cuts, but mainly prosciutto!
Other than the supermarket, they can be found at a ‘norcineria’ or ‘macelleria’ or ’salumeria‘ (the butchers), ‘alimentari’ (similar to a bodega), ‘pizzicheria’ (what is known abroad as a deli) and in Rome ‘salsamenteria’ (same as ‘pizzicheria’).

Items for your favorite breakfast, honey, olive oil and balsamic vinegar (if not already available at your vacation rental), garlic and onion (just in case).Now, onto the recipes!


The recipes

Mozzarella and tomatoes.
Wash the tomatoes and drain the mozzarella. Slice the mozzarella and the tomatoes, add a drizzle of olive oil, a pinch of salt and some basil leaves. That’s it!Cantaloupe melon and prosciutto.
Cut and open in half the cantaloupe melon, then cut again in moon-shaped slices. Remove the rind and the seeds, then cut in smaller pieces and wrap prosciutto around these little bites. Again, nothing else is required. The sweet taste of the melon pairs extremely well with the salt of the prosciutto.
If you’re vegetarian, try the deliciousness of melon with a drizzle of olive and a sprinkle of salt.Tomato bruschetta.
Wash the tomatoes. Slice the bread and dice the tomatoes. Put tomatoes on the slices and then dress with olive oil and salt. You may want to toast the bread first, but you can skip this step and it won’t be any less tasty.Prosciutto rolls with ricotta and zucchini.
Wash and then dice the raw zucchini. Drain the ricotta, pour it into a bowl and add the zucchini, then mix with a spoon. Place prosciutto slices onto a plate and then add the ricotta and zucchini mix on top, then roll. Simple but so yummy!Marinated zucchini salad.
Place the vinegar, lemon juice, lemon rind, garlic, oil, salt and pepper in a bowl and mix to combine. Add the sliced, raw zucchini and toss to coat. Allow to marinate for 10 minutes. Place on a serving plate and top with the baby basil leaves to serve.

Salad with peaches, mozzarella, prosciutto.
Wash the peaches, peel them and then slice them. Wash the salad green of your choice, cut in smaller bites and add to a bowl. Cut in the prosciutto slices in smaller pieces and add to the bowl with the peaches. Drain the mozzarella and dice it, then add it as well. Dress with olive oil, vinegar and salt.

Pears with pecorino cheese.
Wash the pears and cut in slices. Cut the pecorino and just enjoy with the pears. You can drizzle the pecorino with honey if you prefer (we do!).
You can substitute pears with grapes if you happen to find them or any other seasonal fruit.

Fruit salad.
Wash the fruit, slice it and mix in a bowl. Drizzle with some lemon juice and add some sugar (optional).

Extra tip: did you know that at artisanal gelato shops you can buy ice cream tubs too? Ask for a ‘vaschetta‘ and store in the freezer. You can add fresh fruit and enjoy a scrumptious dessert. Go the extra mile and add crumbled biscotti (‘cantuccini’ in Italian, you can buy them anywhere in Tuscany).


Buon appetito!

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