Abondanza! A Feast of Italy's Regional Recipes Bounty of New Delights from the Bottomless Pot of Italian Cooking

By Kirsten A. Conover, writer of The Christian Science Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, October 14, 1993 | Go to article overview

Abondanza! A Feast of Italy's Regional Recipes Bounty of New Delights from the Bottomless Pot of Italian Cooking


Kirsten A. Conover, writer of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor


IT'S no secret that Americans love pasta. Their passion for Italian food - both simple and sophisticated - seems to know no bounds.

Cookbook authors are responding to the craze, which has been going strong for over a decade now, by specializing in either regional or individual aspects of Italian cuisine.

Among the most notable of recent releases is The Classic Pasta Cookbook (Dorling Kindersley, 160 pp., $24.95), by Guiliano Hazan, son of that doyen of Italian cooking teachers, Marcella Hazan.

Vibrant photographs of beautifully prepared and styled dishes and easy-to-follow, step-by-step instructions make this hardcover an excellent guide to selecting, making, and cooking pasta.

The book's playful layout will inspire you to study every page, if not try every recipe.

Stressing pasta's versatility, Hazan offers more than 100 recipes for such dishes as: Spaghetti Alla Checca (spaghetti with fresh tomatoes, herbs, and mozzarella), Fettuccine al Prosciutto e Asparagi (Fettuccine with Prosciutto, Asparagus, and Cream), and Tortelloni di Ricotta e Prezzemolo (Tortelloni filled with Ricotta and Parsley).

Hazan's mother describes his palate as "possessing the gastronomic equivalent of perfect pitch." (Spoken like a true Italian mother.)

Another one of America's foremost authorities on Italian cuisine is Julia della Croce, author of Antipasti: The Little Dishes of Italy (photography by Joyce Oudkerk Pool, 152 pp., $18.95).

Della Croce opens with sections on essential ingredients and mail-order sources for cooking equipment and provisions.

She then splits her book into eight chapters including Antipasti di Mare (seafood), Antipasti di Polenta e Fagioli (polenta and beans), and Pane, Corstate, e Tramezzini (savory breads, pies, and sandwiches).

She dispels the myth that antipasti (literally, "before the pasta") is a cold platter of salami, olives, pickled vegetables, and cheese, and explains that antipasti can be made in many forms, both hot and cold.

"It could be argued that antipasti are the most versatile and appealing of all Italian dishes," della Croce writes.

Zucchini rolls stuffed with ricotta, peppers filled with rice and sausage, potato fritters with sauteed wild mushrooms and fontina cheese sauce, and Tuscan-style shrimp and cannellini beans are just some of the 80 recipes - all of which, in classic Italian style, call for only the freshest and best ingredients. …

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