on 16 August 2013
The Art of Pasta is an exhaustive, but never dull, pasta bible written with deep experience and infectious enthusiasm. Its seems that Lucio Galletto is a man driven by love - it led him from his native Italy to Australia, drives his restaurants and art collection - and this book is brimming with it! The book is the third he has written with author/journalist David Dale, and it comes richly illustrated with a fusion of photographs drawings by Anson Smart and Luke Sciberras.
Galletto's style is nurturing, like he is imparting a lifetime of knowledge, so you can feel confident in your approach and encouraged to try more adventurous recipes and techniques. The provenance and characters behind each technique and recipe are fondly explained, next time you tuck into ravioli filled with potato remember the poverty that spurred its creation, or think of Marino's mother when you are eating passatelli.
The first section covers the basics: dough, colour adaptations (including chocolate, squid ink and saffron), rolling, cutting and cooking. Complex tasks are clearly and simply explained, with detailed instructions and tips to help with the subtle nuances of each technique. My first attempt at farfalle shaping accidently turned into maltagliatai, the romantic term for badly cut pasta! If you don't want to venture into making pasta, the cooking section covers dried pasta too. I was amazed by the volume of water required for cooking: one litre for each 100g of pasta.
Soups and Broths, that originated as humble peasant food, is the ultimate comfort chapter. The broths are packed with beans and vegetables: the Bean and Pasta Soup, combines butterbeans prosciutto and tomatoes with maccheroncini pasta (little tubes). This is the ideal chapter for anyone on a budget, or a health kick.
Some Basic Sauses covers pestos, tomato sauces and ragùs. If you only read one page, make it number 56. This will change your view of `spag-bog' forever; classic bolognese is what you should be eating, packed with: mushrooms, pancetta, chicken liver, veal, beef and pork sausages.
Dried Pasta begins with a reminder that it should only be cooked until it is al dente, and helpfully explains exactly what that is along with the best dried pasta/sauce pairings. Uncooked sauces, that are simply tossed with hot pasta and served immediately, are childishly simple but full of flavour. The recipes typically require few, but good quality, ingredients.
Once you have mastered Fresh Pasta the possibilities seem endless. The black pasta is my favourite, whet your appetite with Black Tagliatelle with Grilled Scampi and Leeks, a mouth-watering combination of just 3 ingredients.
Filled Pasta is a little more involved, but the instructions are clear with tips on how to get the right consistency of filling - not too soft or too wet. Beetroot Ravioli is rich in colour, the beetroot bleeding through the pasta, whilst Duck Egg Ravioli from Logan Campbell (head Chef at Galletto's Sydney restaurant) combines truffle, asparagus and chestnut mushrooms with duck egg yolk poached to perfection inside the ravioli.
Baked Pasta is ideal dinner party fodder. The more traditional tray bakes, lasagne and cannelloni, are presented alongside more delicate dishes like Campbell's Three-Weed Lasagne with Blood Orange and Marjoram.
Gnocchi, although not technically pure pasta, is the final chapter. This is serious comfort food! Potato Gnocchi with Gorgonzola and Pistachios combines the rich nuttiness of pistachio with creamy gorgonzola.
This book is a classic; it deserves to be read cover-to-cover (with a large glass of wine) before the corners become dog-eared and pages smeared with pasta dough!