by Micol Negrin
Italy, a country half the size of Texas, is composed of 20 regions, each with its own distinctly marvelous food. In Rustico, author Micol Negrin offers 10 recipes from each region–from the Alpine Val d’Aosta to the southernmost islands of Sicily and Sardinia. Other cookbooks serve up Italian regional dishes, but few American ones, if any, provide such a sweeping tour of authentic fare. Readers will be captivated instantly by dishes such as Lombardy’s Butternut Squash Gnocchi in Rosemary Butter; Emilia-Romagna’s Veal Roast Stuffed with Spinach, Pancetta, and Frittata; and Latium’s Pike in Velvety Egg-Lemon Sauce, among many others–appetite-whetting food that cries out to be made. The rustic dishes range from antipasti to dolce, and include more familiar “specialties” such as Tuscany’s Summer Bread and Tomato Salad and Milan’s Saffron Risotto, and the excitingly unexplored, such as Molise’s Hand-Cut Pasta Squares in Asparagus Cream and Apulia’s Orecchiette with Wilted Arugula and Tomatoes. Baked goods are particularly irresistible and include Basilicata’s Smoked Bread with Sweet Onion, Tomato and Basil, and herb-showered Griddle Bread from Romagna. Sweet lovers will delight in the likes of Calabria’s Chocolate Covered Roasted Figs and Mint-and-Lemon-Laced Cheese Pillows in Warm Chestnut Honey from Sardinia, among other simple desserts. With a section of basic recipes, a fine ingredient glossary, and photos throughout, the book is a true tour de force.