She’s done it again. My friend Domenica Marchetti that is. Her newest cookbook has just been published and it’s every bit as enticing as the last four: “The Glorious Pasta of Italy,” “The Glorious Soups and Stews of Italy,” “Rustic Italian,” and “Big Night In.” The new book, “The Glorious Vegetables of Italy,” contains so many delicious recipes that combine the flavors and techniques of Italian cooking with the array of vegetables that are available there and here in the states too. Interspersed throughout are mouth-watering photographs that could be on a gallery wall.
would go back to Italy for the summer. We had a beach house on the Adriatic coast. That’s where my affection for Abruzzo comes from – from spending many years there. I have wonderful memories, and friendships that I still have with people I used to hang out with at
the beach as a teenager.
cooking. The book is also not just Abruzzese recipes. My cooking has always been more eclectic Italian,
rather than focused on one region. That’s probably because my mother
didn’t just cook Abruzzese food. I grew up eating a variety of regional Italian cooking and so
that’s what I learned to do. My books are a mishmash of family
recipes, regional recipes. They’re classic, they’re contemporary takes on
classic, they’re stuff I made up in my own kitchen – so they’re “Italianish.” I can’t say they cling to any one part of Italy or
they’re just traditional, or just family recipes. They’re a little
bit of everything.
2008, we took a trip to the Veneto during Easter week, and I just remember the market under the Rialto
bridge. I saw an incredible array of vegetables,
from fat winter squashes from the north of Italy to tomatoes that were already ripe from the South of Italy. There were all kinds of artichokes, and all the
different types of radicchio in the Veneto. It got me thinking.
perception and understanding of Italian cooking, but I do feel that
people still have this “Olive Garden” view of Italian cooking – that it’s spaghetti and meatballs, it’s pasta, it’s pizza, it’s roasts,
breads, starchy, and heavy. I honestly think that nothing could be
further from the truth. When we were in Abruzzo in July, we stayed at
an agriturismo. We got there right after lunch, and the owner put out a snack
for us – cheese and charcuterie. Then she brought out a plate of
tender green beans that had been boiled, past al dente. They were
actually tender – because Italians aren’t afraid to overcook their
vegetables. That’s one of the things I love about Italian vegetables
is that they’re not all crunchy. They were tossed with olive oil and the tiniest hint of vinegar and they were so good. I’ll remember that
plate of beans forever. I think Italian diets are much more vegetable-centric than people perceive in this country.
you wished you could have included?
never associated them much with Italian cooking and Italian food. I
didn’t eat them growing up. My dad had a slight allergy to them. They
were never on our table. I don’t ever remember having them in Italy.
I do know a lot of Italian Americans grow them in their gardens.
After being in Puglia last summer, I realized this might be a
regional thing. Because in Puglia, they were everywhere. They had
these amazing cucumbers that looked like very small personal melons -pale, pale green, and you cut them open and they were the same color
as a honeydew melon. But they were cucumbers. They were slightly sweet but definitely in the cucumber
family. At that point, I was in the final stages of the manuscript
and I thought about trying to add cucumbers, just so I could talk
about this Pugliese cucumber, but then I thought that would have
unnecessarily complicated things. I have enough recipes to write
another vegetable book, because there are an infinite number of ways that
Italians use them – so many variations and riffs. I love just tossing
pasta with fresh vegetables. People always think that pasta has to be
sauced. The sauce is a condiment. There’s nothing better than tossing
fresh pasta with seasonal vegetables, a little olive oil and cheese.
so easy – is the baked delicata squash with cream and
parmigiano. This is one of the “Italianish” recipes. Delicata squash has a lovely golden flesh and it’s sweet, with a dense
texture. it’s just brushed with cream and parmigiano and baked in the oven. It’s so
simple and easy but makes a great side dish for any roast. I really love the vegetable lasagna and the eggplant meatballs. You just can’t imagine that they would be as good as real meatballs, but they are and a lot of people have been writing about them.
tour, mostly in September. They’re usually piecemeal because I still have kids in the house
and I can’t go away for long periods. I don’t like to anyway. I’m really a homebody. But I’m going to the West Coast – Seattle, Portland and San Francisco. I have a couple of cooking demos and classes and talks. I’ll
be going to St. Paul, Minnesota to do a cooking class and then some local
events in the D.C. area, near where I live. I’m also hitting Chapel Hill, North Carolina. There’s a wonderful huge kitchenware store with a wonderful cooking
school, called “A Southern Season.” I love teaching there. I’m coming up to Dorothea’s House in Princeton in November, but I would love to do more Northeast stuff, so I’m working on that leg of it.