5 Italian Dips and Sauces to enjoy flavours of an Italian Summer

Italian summers can get as hot as they can be beautiful and the people of Italy know just the perfect way to beat the heat or should we say, make the most of it! Large, al fresco family get-togethers, the aroma of fresh Italian herbs and Amalfi lemons, sounds of laughter, chilled jars of Limoncello and lots and lots of food - when you have all of this around you, it’s easy to ignore the bright summer sunshine. Once you've savoured a summer in Italy, the irresistible longing for its return becomes an annual ritual. For those yet to experience it, allow us to offer a tantalising glimpse through the flavours of classic Italian dips that can upgrade any boring, clichéd summer menu.

Try a Classic Tomato Sauce 

This one really spells Summer in Italy: A classic tomato sauce or Salsa al Pomodoro, is the backbone for many classic Italian dishes, right from Neapolitan pizzas to the rich stews of Sicily. The most basic version of this sauce is light and refreshing, made with juicy, luscious San Marzano tomatoes, which bring that rounded sweet and sour flavour every batch of a perfect Italian Tomato sauce needs. Add hints of garlic, basil, olive oil and Italian herbs and you have something that you can truly call an All Purpose Tomato sauce.

Tomato Sauce

The best part about this sauce is that you can indulge in a few kitchen experiments and explore more variations of a simple Pomodoro sauce. And believe us, there are way too many! Like, for example, Puttanesca, a classic Neapolitan sauce that demands the addition of capers, olives and chilli peppers to the simpler tomato sauce base. A sun-dried tomato pesto, where the flavours (and colour) of a simple tomato sauce are just bolder and more intense, thanks to the use of sun-dried tomatoes, instead of fresh ones, is another great example of elevated tomato sauces from Italy.

Sample the Aglio Olio Peperoncino

An unsaid rule while making a good Aglio Olio Peperoncino sauce in Italy is that the aroma of it should travel past your kitchen and build up an appetite for everyone at home! Well, that's what's supposed to happen when you slowly infuse good quality Italian olive oil with garlic, chilli flakes and just the right amount of Italian herbs. Used in a variety of ways across the country, Aglio Olio is often considered one of the mother sauces of Italian cuisine. We know you're now thinking of a big bowl of spaghetti tossed in a classic Aglio Olio Peperoncino sauce, but this sauce made with quintessential Italian ingredients is also an important addition to many Italian stews, marinades for barbecues and snacking tables at family gatherings.

Our Aglio Olio Peperoncino dip has all these flavours of Italy packed in a neat jar - all you have to do is scoop, dip or slather it on anything you feel like amping up with a whole lot of Italian spice, flavour and amore!

Scoop some Genovese Basil Pesto 

Back in the day in Italy, the word pesto had quite a universal appeal and would be used to describe most dips and sauces, ground to a paste using a mortar and pestle. Over a period of time, the popularity of pesto sauce made with basil probably took over the world and the meaning of the word, so now we mostly think of the Genovese version when we hear pesto.

Basil Pesto Sauce

Right from the colour to the aroma, a jar of freshly made Genovese Pesto brings elements of an Italian Summer right to your table. Just put it out on an ‘al fresco’ dining table at a summer party and we’re sure you and your guests will find many innovative ways to enjoy it! Right from tossing pastas and salads to using it as a flavour base for pizzas and sandwiches - it's really simple to add a dash of pesto to your dishes to brighten up your menu. As for making a perfect pesto, that's quite easy too! The best ones, in our opinion, are a little chunky, slightly nutty and have a thin layer of deep green-infused oil that skims the surface. This oil doesn't just prevent oxidation of the pesto but also adds more flavour to everything you decide to drizzle it on.

Our Basil Seed Pesto is all of this and more. Made with an authentic Italian recipe that uses sunflower oil and seeds, instead of the more popular version made with pine nuts and olive oil - our pesto is not just Italian nonna-approved, but also loved by thousands of Italian food lovers across the country! Join the club by giving our Basil Seed Pesto a try.

Bring on the cheese - Bechamel Sauce

Even though Bechamel sauce is known the world over as an integral part of French Cuisine, few know that this classic ingredient has its origins in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. In fact, a fun fact about this all-time favourite sauce is that it used to be known as ‘salsa cola’ or ‘glue sauce’ because of its thick, sticky consistency. We’ll agree just because of how glued we are to the cheesy flavours of a well-made Bechamel.

With its velvety richness derived from a roux base, creamy infusion of milk, tantalising tanginess from an array of cheeses, and a delicate hint of nutmeg's intoxicating aroma, this dish possesses an overwhelming allure that captivates both the palate and the senses, transcending the boundaries of mere mouthfeel and texture. While it is great to pair with hearty pasta dishes like macaroni and baked lasagna casseroles, we find that bechamel is actually quite impressive as a dip for many of your favourite crackers!

Say Yes to Green - Salsa Verde 

At first glance, you might just confuse a salsa verde with a basil pesto, but dig a little deeper and you will see a whole world of difference in the taste, aroma and textures. In Italy, salsa verde or green sauce is served as a dipping sauce for breads. It is made with parsley, garlic, vinegar, onions and olive oil and has a characteristic briny, slightly salty taste from capers and anchovies. The texture is smooth and the bold flavours pack a solid punch, which is why it also finds popular use in marinades in addition to being a great dipping sauce. If you're looking for flavours to represent summer in Italy, toss up a quick pasta salad with some fusilli, cherry tomatoes and bocconcini and drizzle it generously with freshly made Salsa Verde - and just like that you have managed to create beautiful flavours of an Italian summer in your kitchen.

Now that you know more about what it takes to ‘dip’ into that typical Italian summer mood, we're here to help you make it happen with ease. Pick from our best-selling range of dips & sauces now and bring all these delizioso flavours home to you, pronto!

Don't forget to follow us on Instagram @sorrentina_honestlyitalian to learn more about all things that are ‘honestly Italian’.

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