The Glorious Vegetables of Italy by Domenica Marchetti
Maybe vegetables aren’t the first thing to jump to mind when you think of Italian cuisine, but that’s about to change. After all, what goes on top of our pizzas, gets tossed with our pastas, and is stirred into our risottos? That’s right: fresh, seasonal vegetables. Domenica Marchetti is here with her latest book of Italian cuisine to make sure we don’t forget about all the beautiful — nay, glorious! — vegetables that make our favorite Italian dishes so very good.
• Who wrote it: Domenica Marchetti
• Who published it: Chronicle Books
• Number of recipes: Over 100
• Recipes for right now: Sweet-and-Sour Eggplant Salad, Bread Soup with Summer Squash, Bird Egg Bean Salad, Carrot-Ricotta Ravioli with Herbed Butter, Grilled Pizzas, Stuffed Summer Vegetable Platter, Broccolini with Lemon-Mustard Dressing, Smashed Green Beans and Potatoes with Pancetta, Pumpkin Gelato
• Other highlights: The Italians are old hands at transforming raw vegetables into all sorts of delectable dishes. After all, as Domenica Marchetti reminds us in her introduction, vegetables have traditionally been a mainstay of Italian cuisine while expensive meats served as special accents. Italy is also home to an incredible variety of vegetables that all enjoy a long and happy growing season, so there’s no lack of variety when it comes to choosing something for dinner!
With this cookbook, we get many of our nearest and dearest Italian dishes, but with vegetables firmly taking center stage for a change. The chapters are divided into appetizers, soups and salads, pasta (along with risotto, gnocchi, and polenta), pizza and its cousins, main courses, side dishes, and a handful of desserts. The recipes aren’t strictly vegetarian, but the recipes that do incorporate meat do so in a way that still puts the accent on the veg rather than the protein. Also, in your haste to get to the recipes, don’t skim over the intro chapter too quickly — it is a font of knowledge about the core vegetables in Italian cuisine and its basic recipes.
This is also an incredibly beautiful book, one of those cookbooks where you get lost in lush photographs and swooping calligraphy. It’s almost a shame to bring this one into the kitchen where it risks getting splattered with tomatoes and olive oil. Almost. (As gorgeous as this book is, one of my only complaints is actually that the font is rather small. It’s pretty on the page, but difficult to read or quickly find one’s place if trying to follow along while cooking.)
As cooks, we often get swept away in thinking about what’s next, what’s new, and what’s hip. Well, Italian cuisine is always good, no matter what’s trending in the food world, and maybe the next big thing is something that’s been there all along: the vegetables.
• Who would enjoy this book? Cooks who love Italian cuisine, anyone wanting to incorporate more vegetables into their diet while still enjoying fantastic and much-loved dishes, gardeners and people with CSAs to work through.
Find the book at your local library, independent bookstore, or Amazon: The Glorious Vegetables of Italy by Domenica Marchetti
• Visit the author’s website: Domenica Marchetti
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(Images: Emma Christensen)