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Verdure: Simple Recipes in the Italian Style

by Gioietta Vitale

The recipes in this slim, very pleasant book “dedicated entirely to vegetables” take the familiar concept of Italian simplicity to a refreshing extreme. Most of them, like Sautéed Cucumbers which has four ingredients, including salt and pepper, and Fresh Tomatoes with Mozzarella and Basil, are impeccably brief and uncomplicated. Chapters, which are arranged by vegetable, open with amiable introductions and list cooking times for basic preparations like boiling, microwaving and roasting. Interestingly, there are more salads (Fennel Salad) and sautéed side dishes (Sautéed Radicchio in Olive Oil) than pastas. In the occasional headers, Milan native Vitale (Riso) provides personal anecdotes she used to make English Muffin Pizzette for her children as an after-school snack and likes to take Spinach Frittata when she goes sailing on Long Island Sound. In the recipe for Potatoes with Pesto, for example, Vitale recommends including parsley, and, in the introduction to zucchini, she notes that Italian cooks consider zucchini to be past its prime unless the blossom is still attached. With clear, simple instructions, Vitale offers enticing fare, much of it of particular interest in these hot summer days.