Italian Cookbooks

My Calabria: Rustic Family Cooking from Italy’s Undiscovered South

by Rosetta Costantino & Janet Fletcher

At the tip of Italy’s “boot” lies Calabria. It is a beautiful, mountainous region populated by fishermen and small farmers. Rosetta Costantino grew up in this rugged landscape, her father a shepherd and wine maker and her mother his tireless assistant. When her family immigrated to California, they re-created a little Calabria on their property, cooking with eggplant, tomatoes, and peppers from their garden, fresh ricotta made from scratch, and pasta fashioned by hand. A frugal people, Calabrians are master preservers, transforming fresh figs into jam, canning fresh tuna in oil, and sun-drying peppers for the winter. Now Rosetta shares her family’s story and introduces readers to the fiery simplicity of Calabrian food. With 100 color photographs, this is the first cookbook of a little-known region of Italy. It celebrates the richness of the region’s landscape and the allure of its cuisine. My Calabria is a cookbook for our time: a reminder of how ingenious and resourceful cooks can create a gorgeous local cuisine.

Eating Italy: A Chef’s Culinary Adventure

by Jeff Michaud & David Joachim

Before award-winning chef Jeff Michaud ever opened the doors of his acclaimed Philadelphia restaurants, he spent three years in northern Italy as a culinary apprentice to master butchers and chefs, immersing himself in the culture and cuisine of the old country. It is safe to say that he never anticipated the romance that would ensue. Eating Italy is a delicious, funny, and mesmerizing spin through the boot, teaching true heirloom techniques and telling Jeff ‘s culinary and personal love story (he met his wife when she came into the restaurant one night for dinner, and to this day, he hasn’t forgotten what she ordered). Part inventive cookbook, part travel narrative, each chapter of Eating Italy explores a village or town in northern Italy, unveiling the unique culinary and cultural experience it has to offer. The reader experiences his journey from “Paladina: The Butcher’s Apprentice” to “Trescore Balneario: Our Big Italian Wedding” in dishes like Apricot and Chanterelle Salad, Swordfish Pancetta with Fennel Zeppole, Pheasant Lasagne, and Blood Orange Crostata with Bitter Chocolate. Each authentic recipe serves to mark his professional growth, learning from some of the most skilled chefs in Italy. Vivid photography of Italian culture, people, and landscapes are dispersed throughout, allowing the reader a glimpse of northern Italia from a kitchen far away.

Verdure: Vegetable Recipes from the Kitchen of the American Academy in Rome

By Christopher Boswell with Elena Goldblatt, Photographs Annie Schlechter

Verdure is the ideal collaboration among the Academy kitchen and garden, the artisan producers, and the organic farmers who provide the impeccable raw ingredients used in each dish. (Some are even foraged by the academy’s fellows in field trips to local meadows and forests.) Its 92 recipes are arranged seasonally; week by week, it can be used to navigate the harvest of the farmer’s market. Frugality is a consideration: the RSFP kitchen feeds a group, and cost is a consideration (beans, grains, and greens take a starring role). Maximizing flavor is paramount (consider the lowly onion, risen to new heights in a sweet and sour sauce). Every recipe appears simple and is easy to execute, but rises far, far above the fundamental.

Pasta: Recipes from the Kitchen of the American Academy in Rome

By Christopher Boswell with Elena Goldblatt, Photography by Annie Schlechter

Even if you haven’t landed one of the coveted internships in the kitchen at the American Academy in Rome, you can have a behind-the-scenes tutorial in the way that pastas and sauces are made there. The recipes in Pasta are arranged in the same order as the interns are taught to make them, from simple to more complex, and are organized the way Italians think about pasta, not only as fresh or dry but by the base of the sauces (oil, tomato, meat, and vegetable). Even the most sophisticated cooks will be intrigued by chef Christopher Boswell’s engaging notes that explain what makes the flavors work together, why and how the sauces work with the pastas, and what makes a dish not only great but unforgettable. He includes simple techniques, small refinements, and easy variations. Among the more than 90 recipes you’ll find ‘nduja, a soft, spicy sausage spread from Calabria; a sauce that unexpectedly pairs basil and asparagus; delicate and refreshing summer pastas; and hearty and earthy vegetarian dishes.

Zuppe: Soups from the Kitchen of The American Academy in Rome

By Mona Talbott, Photographs Annie Schlechter

Much more than a collection of remarkable soups, Mona Talbott’s Zuppe is also a wise and gentle tutorial on the “the beauty and delicious rewards of frugality” and how the humblest foods can be the most profoundly satisfying. In addition to 50 recipes, Talbott shares approaches and techniques that can change the way a cook thinks about economy, improvisation, and using all the flavors and nutrients inherent in each ingredient. A Chez Panisse graduate, Talbott was chosen by Alice Waters to be Executive Chef of the innovative Rome Sustainable Food Project at the American Academy in Rome. There, while cooking for the Academy’s creative community of scholars, historians, artists, archaeologists, and architects, Talbott perfected a repertoire of dishes made from local, seasonal, organic ingredients. Central to the menu are soups.