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This review is from: Verdura: Vegetables Italian Style (Hardcover)
Decent, but not outstanding, book for vegetarians or those wanting some more inspiring ways to use vegetables but in my view it is a bit of a mixed bag. Overall, I felt slightly disappointed.
Some recipes are very simple e.g. a lot of the grilled breads & sandwiches & some of the salads don't really require a recipe at all. For example a recipe is given for rocket salad which involves just rocket, salt(to taste!), olive oil and lemon. Frankly this just seemed to be padding to me - neither original nor needing a recipe. I can't think of anyone who is likely to buy a cookery book of this type who will be so lacking in skill that they need a recipe for something this basic. Another one that I found rather amusing was the Russian salad sandwich which involved using a recipe for the salad given elsewhere in the book and "eight slices of good quality bread" with the following method: "Divide the Russian Salad among 4 slices of bread. Spread the salad to cover the bread slices but not all the way to the edges. Top with the remaining 4 slices of bread. Cut the sandwiches in half diagonally or, if serving with drinks, in bite-sized squares." I came close to hurling the book at the wall at that point. I didn't really feel I benefited from any of the other sandwich recipes either - I think I could have thought of, and prepared, mozzarella & tomato & grilled mozzarella sandwiches without assistance.
The book is divided into chapters as follows:
Store cupboard recipes: e.g. aubergine & almond caponatina; smoked mozarella marinated in herbs and olive oil (lovely, although I have to say finding smoked mozzarella, which I adore, isn't that easy for me in rural Sussex and I wouldn't call it a store cupboard item).
Antipasti (both hot & cold)
Salads (both accompaniments and main course salads)
Grilled breads/sandwiches; basically lots of variations on bruschetta (including a particularly nice one using scented white bean puree), plus a smaller number of sandwiches.
Soups - e.g. aromatic potato & rocket soup; summer white bean soup with tomato salad topping which I particularly like regardless of the season; chick peas, swiss chard & porcini.
Pasta (both `raw' and cooked) such as a simple, but nice, summer mixed pasta, spaghetti alla trapanese, tubetti with spring vegetable sauce, spaghettini with tomato, courgette flowers & red chillies.
Rice & polenta e.g. rice with winter squash & sage butter, several versions of risotto
Main dishes - includes pizzas, tarts, stews, stuffed veg, fritters & gnocchi, egg dishes. Recipes include onion tart (using ricotta cheese), rice & aubergine timbale, stuffed courgette flowers, rice-stuffed tomatoes on a bed of sliced potatoes, a really lovely aubergine torta, several frittatas.
Side Vegetables e.g. lemony griddled aubergine (fabulous), carrots with cream & fresh basil, cannellini beans braised in tomato & herbs.
Desserts - summer berry salad with maraschino, watermelon with bittersweet chocolate shavings (despite her assertions I didn't think this was a good combination), a good orange custard, ice cream & marinated cherries (using shop bought ice cream).
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Initial post: 25 May 2011 14:02:37 BDT
C. Tennant says:
I know what you mean about the rocket salad recipe, but remember that this book was published in 1991 at a time when rocket was still a novelty and really only available from specialist shops and Italian delis. I love this book - having bought it in about 1992 - and love the simplicity of some of the suggestions. I'm pleased to see that there are a few things you enjoy!
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