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Lidia Cooks from the Heart of Italy: A Feast of 175 Regional Recipes

Tuesday, February 23, 2010 Posted by Rita A

Italian foods are one of my favorites. I grew up in an Italian family where everything revolved around the kitchen. We were always cooking something. Needless to say I crave Italian food. If you love real Italian recipes then this cookbook should be in your collection. Lidia Cooks from the Heart of Italy: A Feast of 175 Regional Recipes.

Lidia Matticchio Bastianich has authored five previous cookbokos. She is the owner of a several restaurants in New York City. She travels the country to share her demonstrations of Italian cooking. In this newest cookbook Lidia takes us on a culinary adventure through the different regions of Italy. It is as much a travel book as it is a cookbook. Lidia teaches us to respect the food. Use every morsel. Understand the complexities of the ingredients and make them work together. "Waste not, want not" and make it delicious is her motto.

I loved the wonderful pictures contained in Lidia Cooks from the Heart of Italy: A Feast of 175 Regional Recipes. The photos show the beautiful countryside of Italy, the warm friendly faces of its people and the rich tastes of the regions. Each glorious section features a new region. I enjoyed the opening stories and memories Lidia shares with us of her recollection of the region. It is part history and part memoir. She introduces us to the foods prominent to the area and how to prepare them in the Italian heritage from the region. I stopped at Baked Apples from the Trentino - Alto Adige region. This is not our typical baked apple, this one is made with Amarena Cherries, heavy cream and semisweet chocolate. I would love to taste this dish. The freshness of the ingredients is apparent with each region. Rice in Lombardy, vegetables in Liguria to beautiful olives in Le Marche. Each page turn features a dish unique to the area with all the glorious flavors that are Italy. You will find complex and simple dishes throughout this gastronomy adventure. Well done Lidia.

Here is a recipe for preview:

This classic Italian dish has found a permanent spot in Italian American cuisine. You can dress it with Parmigiano Reggiano, Pecorino Romano, or Grana Padano. And I guarantee that it's a favorite for kids as well as moms. Why? Because it tastes delicious and requires very little clean up!

Serves six

•1 pound spaghettini or vermicelli
•5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
•10 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
•½ teaspoon (or more to taste) crushed red pepper
•½ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
•1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, Pecorino Romano or Grana Padano
Bring 6 quarts of salted water to a boil in an 8-quart pot over high heat. Stir the spaghettini into the boiling water. Return to a boil, stirring frequently. Cook the pasta, semi-covered, stirring occasionally, until tender, but still very firm, about 6 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook, shaking the skillet and stirring, until pale golden, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and add ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper.

Ladle about 1 ½ cups of the pasta cooking water into the sauce. Add the parsley, the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and salt to taste.

If the skillet is large enough to accommodate the sauce and pasta, fish the pasta out of the boiling water with a large wire skimmer and drop it directly into the sauce in the skillet. If not, drain the pasta, return it to the pot and pour in the sauce. Bring the sauce and pasta to a simmer, tossing to coat with sauce. Cook until the pasta is coated with the sauce and done, about 1 minute. Remove the pot from the heat and toss in the grated cheese, if using. Check the seasoning, adding salt and crushed red pepper if necessary. Serve immediately in warm bowls.

© 2010 Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and Tanya Bastianich Manuali, authors of Lidia Cooks from the Heart of Italy: A Feast of 175 Regional Recipes

There is a wealth of Italian flavors and culinary treasures to explore in Lidia Cooks from the Heart of Italy: A Feast of 175 Regional Recipes. Purchase a copy for yourself or for the chef in your family. You can find Lidia Cooks from the Heart of Italy: A Feast of 175 Regional Recipes at Amazon or check with your local bookseller. pub date: 2009-11-03 | hardcover | 9780307267511

Now that's Italian.

Many thanks to Caitlin of FSB Media for providing the review copy.

Disclosure: I received a gratis copy for this review. No monetary compensation was offered or accepted for this post. The opinions above are my own. Others experience may vary.


  1. Alison/Alison's Book Marks said...

    Before there was The Food Network, Lidia was in our homes teaching us how to cook real, everyday, Italian food. (Thank Goodness!)

    Thank you for the review!