Verdura: Vegetables Italian Styleby Viana La Place
Since its first publication in 1991, Viana La Place's Verdura has become a much loved classic. And with good reason: Its 300 irresistible recipes represent the best of the Italian approach to vegetable preparation, an earthy yet spirited technique that celebrates fresh
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Named to Cooking Light magazine’s list of the Top 100 Cookbooks of the Last 25 Years
Since its first publication in 1991, Viana La Place's Verdura has become a much loved classic. And with good reason: Its 300 irresistible recipes represent the best of the Italian approach to vegetable preparation, an earthy yet spirited technique that celebrates fresh ingredients simply treated.
Many readers have made the book their vegetable cooking bible; those who have not yet added it to their kitchen libraries will want to do so. Contending that eating well-prepared vegetables helps us to appreciate life's natural cycles, La Place presents recipes for antipastos, salads, soups, sandwiches, pasta, risottos, pizzas, and much more.
The vegetables she explores run from the familiar - artichokes, aubergines, radicchio - to the more exotic, such as chayote, cardoons, and brocciflower. (La Place sautés this cauliflower-broccoli hybrid in garlic and oil, then tops it with pungent provolone.) Other recipes, such as Soup of Dried Fava Beans with Fresh Fennel, Fettucine with Peas, Green Onions, and Mint, Grilled Bread with Mushrooms and Herbs, and Baked Red Pepper Fritatta, give further evidence of La Place's original yet thoughtful way with the earth's bounty.
Desserts are also included, among them Watermelon with Bittersweet Chocolate Shavings, Grilled Figs with Honey and Walnuts, and Lemon Granita and Brioche. With a vegetable and herb guide and an ingredient glossary, Verdura provides comprehensive information while exciting the palate.
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Read an Excerpt
One of the salads from A Snob in the Kitchen, a little cookbookwritten in 1967 by the legendary Italian couturiére Simonetta. In her recipe cucumber, fennel, and watercress are wrapped in a clean dish towel and literally beaten against a table, then marinated, to make them "tired." To Simonetta the only good salad was a "tired" salad. If beating the salad seems too barbaric, simply omit this step. The salad is delicious eaten immediately, but it acquires its special wilted character after resting for 1 hour.
Fresh tarragon in the salad accentuates the licorice-like flavor of the fennel.
1 hothouse cucumber
1 fennel bulb, trimmed
1 bunch watercress or 2 bunches arugula, thick stems removed
2 heaping tablespoons chopped tarragon leaves
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Peel the cucumber and cut in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds and cut into thin crescents. Chop the fennel into small dice. Cut the watercress or arugula into thin strips.
Wrap the cucumber, fennel, and watercress or arugula securely in a clean dish towel and beat against the table a few times. Transfer the contents to a bowl and add the tarragon, olive oil, vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste. Toss and let stand for 1 hour before serving.
Butterfly Pasta with Fennel and Balsamic Vinegar
Farfalle Ai Finocchi
Serves 4 to 6
Slivers of fennel bring an intriguing sweetness to this fresh tomato and basil sauce. A spoonful of balsamic vinegar intensifies and deepens the flavors. This is anelegant pasta to serve to gueststhe flavors and the lovely butterfly shapes make it special.
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 large garlic cloves, peeled
2 medium heads fennel, cored and cut into slivers
4 large ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and coarsely chopped
Small handful basil leaves
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 pound imported dried farfalle
Freshly grated imported Parmesan cheese
Place the olive oil in a large sauté pan. Add the garlic cloves and sauté over medium-low heat until golden. Add the fennel slivers, toss, and cook over low heat until fennel is very tender and the garlic breaks down, about 8 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent the garlic from sticking to the pan. Add the tomatoes, the basil, torn into fragments, balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste, and cook over medium heat until a sauce forms, about 15 minutes.
Cook the farfalle in abundant salted boiling water until al dente. Drain well and place in a pasta serving dish. Add the sauce to the pasta and toss well. Serve with grated Parmesan cheese at the table.
Meet the Author
Viana La Place is specialist cookbook author.
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