Monday, 24 May 2010

Molto Gusto: Easy Italian Cooking

Molto Gusto: Easy Italian Cooking
Mario Batali
Hardcover, 272 pages

I love Mario Batali. I love his cooking and his penchant for the colour orange. He is my favourite Iron Chef to watch. This is his fourth book that I have read (I believe he has nine in total) and by far the most approachable for everyday cooking. One thing does stand out in this book - it is rather lighter on the meats. Mario will always be the beaming poster boy for artisan cured meats and the magic they can add to a dish, but even he has added a Meatless Mondays option in all of his restaurants.
Molto Gusto features many vibrant and flavourful veggie dishes, as well as pizza, pasta, cured meats and seafood, and even some rather gorgeous looking desserts.
We embraced some of his lighter fare in our mini heatwave this week and just loved the results. Time to add a little Italian to your life!

The Three-Bean Salad is simple and healthful and bold with Mario's Red Wine Vinaigrette. Fresh garden mint adds that certain je ne sais quoi (or maybe I should find an Italian equivalent of that phrase) that makes it quintessentially Mario - that is to say, Italian.

I am truly, madly, and deeply in love with Mario's style of Pizza making in this book. The dough is portioned, shaped, and griddled much like naan before being topped with the many variations he provides and then broiled to perfection. Pictured above is his Aglio, Olio & Peperoncino Pizza. Unbelievably delicious and so simple in its presentation. I love that I can griddle up the dough and then leave it to wait until I am ready to make another pizza - this works out perfectly for when it is just the two of us. Hmm, I think I see a breakfast pizza in my future, or Pane Frattau.

A lovely way to prepare this season's fresh asparagus is this Shaved Asparagus with Parmigiano-Reggiano. A simple dish, the lemon brings out the freshness of the veggie and the cheese adds a beautiful nuttiness. This is a perfect side for grill night.

If you love the flavours of a puttanesca, you will love the Cauliflower with Olives. Roasted cauliflower (and if you have never roasted cauliflower you are in for a treat) with salty Kalamata olives, capers, hot pepper flakes seasoned with lemon and flaky sea salt. This is a big flavour side that will wake up your taste buds.

Of course we had to have one of Mario's Pastas - this week we had the Linguine with Lemon. (Not linguine in the picture you say? True, it turns out that although I had several boxes of long pasta in the cupboard - they were all whole wheat spaghetti. How does that happen? No matter, the dish was totally delicious.) Lemon juice, lemon zest and segments of lemon make this dish super lemony - and super delish. A little Parmigiano-Reggiano grounds the dish and gives that characteristic nuttiness.

Molto Gusto is very approachable and easy to use. It is a book that you can actually incorporate into your repertoire. Click here to take a little browse inside the book - and get excited about adding some simple Italian elements to your cooking.