Sure, we'd all love to soak up the summer sun à la Emily Ratajkowski vacationing in the Italian Riviera, but the reality is that we don't all have the luxury of jet-setting to the picturesque Mediterranean country at the drop of a hat. So what's the next best thing to drinking copious amounts of Chianti in Tuscany, lounging under an umbrella in Cinque Terre, and enjoying a plate of cacio e pepe in Rome? Obviously, it's cooking up these seven classic Italian recipes to transport your taste buds to Italy. Spanning a saucy bolognese bake to a hearty caponata panzanella, these dishes are proof that no one does food quite like the Italians.
DREAMING OF: Cinque Terre
MAKE: Linguine With Fresh Clams
The Recipe: Fresh Clam Pasta With Creamy White Basil Sauce
The Hero Ingredient: The crispy prosciutto adds an extra layer of salty flavor to this quintessential Italian summer dish.
The Pro Tip: Serve with a glass of chilled white wine.
DREAMING OF: Sicily
MAKE: Caponata Panzanella
The First Mess
The Recipe: Caponata Panzanella
The Hero Ingredient: The caponata, which is essentially a rustic Sicilian eggplant and tomato stew slash condiment.
The Pro Tip: "It's pretty crucial to cook the eggplant until it’s way tender, like a solid 15-minute simmer," advises recipe creator Laura of The First Mess. "Also, there's a lot of salty bits in the caponata, so maybe taste the finished product before you season the whole thing."
DREAMING OF: Milan
MAKE: Italian Wedding Soup
The Modern Proper
The Recipe: Healthy Italian Wedding Soup
The Hero Ingredient: The carrot-packed, garlic-loaded, gluten-free meatballs, which don't even require browning before adding to the pot.
The Pro Tip: "Kale holds its firmness beautifully in a bowl of brothy goodness, making it the perfect addition to any soup," says recipe creator Natalie of The Modern Proper.
DREAMING OF: Florence
The Recipe: Simple Baked Italian Oregano Meatballs
The Hero Ingredient: Spicy sausage takes this traditional Italian fare to the next level.
The Pro Tip: "Wetting your bread prior to mixing it with the meat is KEY for moisture," explains recipe creator Tieghan of Half Baked Harvest.
DREAMING OF: Rome
MAKE: Cacio e Pepe
The Recipe: Kale Cacio e Pepe
The Hero Ingredient: Without a doubt, the toasted black pepper is the hero ingredient of this dish.
The Pro Tip: "Serve immediately with extra parmesan shavings and freshly cracked black pepper," recommends recipe creator Jessica of How Sweet Eats.
DREAMING OF: Tuscany
The Recipe: Gnocchi Bolognese Bake
The Hero Ingredient: The cheese. This recipe calls for mozzarella and provolone, but you could swap in burrata or ricotta if you prefer.
The Pro Tip: "To make the sauce rich but flavorful, I use a mix of red wine and milk," divulges recipes creator Tieghan of Half Baked Harvest. "The wine adds a fruity flavor while the milk keeps the sauce creamy and rich."
DREAMING OF: Siena
MAKE: A Frittata
The Recipe: Vegetable Frittata With Arugula
The Hero Ingredient: Fresh arugula lends a peppery bite to this cheese-filled frittata.
The Pro Tip: "I like to broil mine for a few minutes to finish it off and get the top a little golden, bubbly, and even crunchy from the cheese," reveals recipe creator Jessica of How Sweet Eats.
Convinced that you need to eat your way through Rome, Tuscany, and Cinque Terre? This is hands down the best time to travel to Italy.