Cucina del Sole: A Celebration of Southern Italian Cooking


Nancy Harmon Jenkins has lived in Italy for fifteen years and describes this wonderful region from Naples to the toe of Italy that is still unspoiled by tourism with its own rich culinary traditions quite different from Tuscany and Northern Italy. In addition to a wealth of recipes, the book gives capsule portraits of local features: a fish market, an olive oil press, a bakery, a shepherd cheese–maker. Headnotes describe local folklore and traditions and what makes the food of Southern Italy a world on its own. ...

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Nancy Harmon Jenkins has lived in Italy for fifteen years and describes this wonderful region from Naples to the toe of Italy that is still unspoiled by tourism with its own rich culinary traditions quite different from Tuscany and Northern Italy. In addition to a wealth of recipes, the book gives capsule portraits of local features: a fish market, an olive oil press, a bakery, a shepherd cheese–maker. Headnotes describe local folklore and traditions and what makes the food of Southern Italy a world on its own. Included are recipes for focaccias, pizzas and savory pies; soups and minestre; sauces for pasta; pasta, beans, rice, and other grains; fish and seafood; meat and poultry; vegetables; salads; and desserts.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

In her previous cookbooks, which include Flavors of Tuscanyand Flavors of Puglia, Jenkins distinguished herself with a no-nonsense and informative approach. She employs the same tone in her latest effort, which offers recipes from the regions of Campania, Calabria, Basilicata, Puglia and Sicily. As the author explains, these regions, called the Mezzogiorno, boast a vibrant and varied cuisine. Indeed, the only criticism that might be levied here is that each of the five regions could support a cookbook of its own rather than being lumped into one. Poverty appears to have been the mother of invention in Southern Italy: Jenkins provides several versions of pancotto, basically soup stretched with leftover bread. She also points up the much less frequent use of meat and the prevalence of vegetable stews such as Basilicata's Ciaudedda o Stufato di Verdure with artichokes and fava beans. Jenkins is frank about the difficulty of finding some ingredients in the U.S.: the recipe for Sicily's classic Pasta Colle Sarde acknowledges that its wild fennel is both irreplaceable and hard to track down. A chapter on travel to Southern Italy rounds out this pragmatic volume about an area that Americans are just beginning to explore in large numbers. (Mar.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Library Journal

Jenkins, author of the impressive Essential Mediterranean, wrote about one region of southern Italy in an earlier title, Flavors of Puglia. Here, she expands her focus to the area known as the Mezzogiorno, which encompasses Campania, Calabria, Basilicata, and Sicily, as well as Puglia. Traditionally one of the poorest parts of Italy, it is enjoying increasing prosperity and the emergence of more affluent eaters. Exploring the traditional and contemporary "foods and foodways" of these five closely related regions, Jenkins provides recipes from home cooks and restaurant chefs alike set in a historical context that stretches from the early Greek voyageurs through Arab occupation to modern times. Her text is highly readable and informative, and many of the recipes will be unfamiliar even to fans of Italian food. Highly recommended.

—Judith Sutton
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060723439
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 6/12/2007
  • Pages: 464
  • Sales rank: 646,591
  • Product dimensions: 7.37 (w) x 9.12 (h) x 1.41 (d)

Meet the Author

Hailed as "an anthropologist of the human soul as revealed through food" (, Nancy Harmon Jenkins has written frequently about Mediterranean cuisine (The Essential Mediterranean, Flavors of Tuscany, Flavors of Puglia, The Mediterranean Diet Cookbook). She also writes for national publications, including the New York Times and Food & Wine, and she works closely with the Culinary Institute of America, leading tours to Italy and Spain for the CIA's Worlds of Flavor program.

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First Chapter

Cucina del Sole
A Celebration of Southern Italian Cooking

Spaghetti alle Olive Verde

Spaghetti with Green Olives and Lemon Zest

Serves 4 to 6

This Pugliese pasta is quick and easy, relying on the kinds of ingredients good cooks have on hand.


3 to 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, sliced
¾ cup fresh bread crumbs, preferably homemade (page 139)
¼ to 1⁄3 cup well-drained canned tuna, preferably oil-packed
2 tablespoons capers, preferably salt-packed, rinsed and drained
½ cup mixed flat-leaf parsley and fresh basil leaves
2⁄3 cup coarsely chopped pitted green olives (about 1 pound with pits)
Sea salt
Crumbled dried red chili
1 pound spaghetti
Grated zest of 1 lemon, preferably organic


Combine 2 tablespoons of the olive oil with the garlic in a small skillet and cook over medium-low heat for a few minutes, stirring frequently, until the garlic starts to turn golden. Remove the garlic slices from the oil and discard. Add the bread crumbs to the oil in the pan and toast, stirring frequently, until the crumbs are golden and crisp. Remove from the heat and set aside.

In a food processor, combine the tuna, capers, parsley, and basil with the chopped olives. Process briefly to make a coarse paste, then add 1 or 2 tablespoons of olive oil and process again. Taste and add salt if necessary (the olives may provide enough salt) and chili to taste.

Bring 6 quarts of water to a rolling boil, add sea salt and the spaghetti,and boil rapidly until the pasta is done. Drain, turn into a bowl, and dress immediately with the olive paste. Toss it to mix the paste throughout, then add the grated lemon zest and toss again. Finally, top the spaghetti with the toasted bread crumbs and serve immediately.

Pasta del Principe

Spaghetti with Green Herbs and Crumbled Tuna

Serves 4 to 6

I found this quick and easy pasta dish in the Monte Iblei, the mountainous region inland from Siracusa in southeastern Sicily, although no one could tell me why such a humble dish would be called "the prince's pasta." It leads to romantic daydreams of some rustic Cinderella preparing this for a hungry prince and thereby winning his heart, but that is not a very likely Sicilian story.


¼ cup chopped mint leaves
¼ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 garlic cloves, chopped
Sea salt
2 or 3 anchovy fillets, chopped
1⁄3 cup dry bread crumbs, preferably homemade
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, preferably from the Monte Iblei
1⁄3 cup drained canned tuna, preferably oil-packed
Grated zest of 1⁄2 lemon, preferably organic
1 pound spaghetti
Freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup finely chopped toasted almonds


Combine in a mortar the mint, parsley, and garlic with a small pinch of salt. Work together to make a creamy paste, as you would a pesto (see page 145). Add the anchovies and continue working until the anchovy bits are incorporated. In a small saucepan, toast the bread crumbs with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, stirring, until the crumbs are crisp and golden brown. Remove from the heat and set aside.

In a serving bowl large enough to hold the pasta, break up the tuna with a fork to make a coarse paste, as if you were making tuna salad. Blend in the herb-anchovy mixture, along with the remaining olive oil, using only as much oil as you need to make a thick sauce. Stir in the lemon zest. If you are going to be using the sauce right away, add the bread crumbs now. If not, wait until the pasta is done before adding the bread crumbs; otherwise they may get soggy. Taste and add more salt if necessary and several grinds of black pepper.

Bring 6 quarts of water to a rolling boil, add a tablespoon or so of salt, and turn in the spaghetti. Cook until the pasta is done. Just before draining the pasta, remove a ladleful of hot pasta water and stir it into the sauce in the bowl. Drain the pasta and quickly turn into the sauce, stirring and tossing. When the pasta and sauce are well mixed, sprinkle with the almonds and serve immediately.

Cucina del Sole
A Celebration of Southern Italian Cooking
. Copyright © by Nancy Harmon Jenkins. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 20, 2007

    Sends you to southern Italy

    There are three things that immediately irritate me about Cucina Del Sole, a 'celebration of southern Italian Cooking,' written by Nancy Harmon Jenkins. One is calling it a celebration. Sorry, but the word is overused, and I see no streamers and party hats in my office at the moment. The other is a blurb by Alice Waters, who seems to have become a professional book promoter, as I run across her name on the back of one book after another. (Alright, maybe it was just two in a row, but that was too many.) And then there are no pictures, as happens all too often in cookbooks these days. But the lack of images makes more room for the writing, which is engaging, and I'm delighted to find someone whose penchant for rambling sentences exceeds even mine. The recipes are marvelous and often surprising. For example, I had done a lot of research into pizza last year as I finished writing the Complete Idiot's Guide to Pizza and Panini, but I had never seen an approach that called for a biga - a starter slurry of flour, water, and yeast that is variously called a poolish, levain, or sponge, depending on where in the world you are. (And certainly I hadn't seen the tip of adding a teaspoon of white vinegar to adjust the pH of the dough and make it easier to work.) There's a recipe for making semolina-based pasta, rather than the ubiquitous northern Italian approach of eggs and regular flour. There are terrific seafood recipes (no surprise in southern Italy) and meat dishes with variations that are usual in English texts, like Sicilian Braised Rabbit in a Sweet-and-Sour Sauce. The delights continue through vegetables (Marsala Carrots - what a natural pairing) and desserts (Olive Oil Cake with Walnuts). The book is worth every penny of its price - and is a lot cheaper than flying to Italy to collect the recipes and know-how yourself.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 17, 2010

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