Friday, September 3, 2010

Ciao Italia Five-Ingredient Favorites by Mary Ann Esposito

My sweetie and I hardly eat out anymore because we prefer our own cooking. Meals, including breakfast, are often some variation of sautéed vegetables with rice or pasta. Sometimes it's fun to try new recipes and, working at a library, I am spoiled for choice of cookbooks.

I've never watched Mary Ann Esposito's Ciao Italia television show, but the subtitle - Quick and Delicious Recipes from an Italian Kitchen - had me hooked. My fond memories of travelling in Italy always include the fabulous food. Plus, usually by the time I think of preparing a meal, I'm already hungry, so the "quick" part of the title sounds good too.

Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Roasted Vegetables has already become part of my standard repertoire. The first time I made it, however, I had to triple the suggested roasting time. (This didn't surprise me; I didn't expect them to be tender after 10 minutes, even though I chopped them smaller than instructed and used a higher oven temperature.)

Another recipe - Garlic, Oil, Walnut and Pecorino Sauce - seemed so out-of-proportion that I altered it without hesitation. It was supposed to dress a pound of linguine and called for 1 cup of olive oil, 2 cloves of garlic, 1/3 cup parsley, 1/2 cup walnuts and 1/4 cup grated pecorino cheese. I halved the oil and doubled the other ingredients and it was perfect. Then, I noticed a very similar recipe - Linguine with Walnut Sauce - in another section of the book. It called for 1/2 cup olive oil, 1 1/2 cups walnuts, 4 cloves of garlic and 1/2 cup of parsley served with 1 pound of linguine. The absence of cheese doesn't make the second recipe very much different from the first (aside from the proportions of each ingredient); it therefore seems an oversight to have them both included.

If you are an experienced cook who doesn't follow recipes so much as use them for inspiration, then this book will satisfy a craving for good Italian food.

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