The Glorious Vegetables of Italy came to me by way of Chronicle Books, and it’s a beauty through and through. If you love Italian food, or simply want to expand your vegetable repertoire, this would be a fantastic choice. It is not simply a vegetarian cookbook; meat eaters will find plenty to like. I’ll be giving away one copy of this hardcover book on Friday, July 25th, in my July readers’ sweepstakes.
Layout and design:
The organization follows traditional Italian courses: Introduction, Vegetable Essentials, Appetizers, Garden Soups and Salads, Pasta Risotto Gnocchi and Polenta, Pizza Calzoni and Panini, Main Courses, Side Dishes, Desserts, Preserves and Condiments. It ends with useful Sources.
The design leaves plenty of white space on each page, allowing for room to take notes if you’re like me and you write in your cookbooks. The yields (under each recipe title) are in the lovely handwriting script they chose, making them just a little bit hard to read. The book uses sans serif font throughout which is harder to read in large blocks of text, and the font could be a bit larger for my 53-year-old eyes, but overall it’s pretty user friendly. (And some readers have told me they prefer sans serif fonts, so maybe I really am in the minority on those.)
The photography by Sang An, evenly spaced throughout the book, is gorgeous, and clearly inspired by Renaissance Italian chiaroscuro painting (strong lights and darks). It evokes a beautiful mood, and definitely feels like a trip to Italy whenever I open the book.
More than one hundred… Fresh pasta, pizza dough, crostini with fresh fava bean purée, sweet-and-sour eggplant salad, chicory salad with anchovy dressing, winter cauliflower salad… these are the recipes I would make if I didn’t have all my eating restrictions.
What I liked about the book:
I felt like it took me to Italy, which is no small feat for a cookbook. The recipes are inventive and sound delicious, with enough variety to keep you cooking for a long time. It’s beautiful.
I wasn’t so keen on:
Some of the design choices, described above, make it a bit less user-friendly than it could be. There is nothing in the book relating to special diets, so if you have restrictions you’ll need to know your ingredients.
Italian food lovers, vegetarians looking for new recipes, people looking for ways to use farmer’s market produce
Not recommended for:
Migraine sufferers, low-sodium diets, gluten-free eaters, dairy-free eaters, vegans (unless you don’t mind books that include animal products)
A note about my cookbook reviews: In the past, I tested at least three recipes from each book, took photos, and described my experience. Due to my dietary limitations (extremely-low-sodium for my Meniere’s Disease and trigger-free foods for migraine relief), it is no longer possible for me to test the recipes and do them justice.