Even those who escape to the sea will find the middle of the day the best time to take a siesta in the cool of a dark apartment, shutters closed to keep out the beating sun. The best time to cook, if you absolutely must turn on the stove (forget the oven!), is late at night when you can stand in front of a boiling pot just to prepare something to eat cold the next day—cooking some farro to turn into a cold salad, for example, or frying zucchini to dress in vinegar and mint leaves for zucchine alla scapece to eat as a delicious cold antipasto like they do in Naples. Or perhaps just bearing the heat for 10 minutes to whip up this creamy chickpea soup, which is even nice at room temperature.
For other times, no-cook meals are the best. Thin slices of salty Tuscan prosciutto paired with sweet, juicy cantaloupe are often all we eat for lunch. Or a classic Caprese salad, made with bright tomatoes and creamy, plump balls of buffalo mozzarella.
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Panzanella salad, made with torn stale bread revived in water, tomatoes, cucumber, and basil, is a favorite summer salad in Tuscany—try a green panzanella without the tomatoes, too, which is closer to the age-old way of preparing it.
My ultimate pick-me-up in summer, for those times when I am wilting like a daisy in the afternoon heat, is a caffè shakerato: espresso, shaken with sugar and ice until frothy and creamy. It makes for quite a show when the barman prepares one, and it's easy to do at home, too.
The Australian-Japanese cookbook author has lived in Florence (where a visit to a cheese farm once inspired her to start a food blog) for over 10 years with her Tuscan sommelier husband and two kids. Her third cookbook, Tortellini at Midnight, is out now.