Bob Blumer shows how making dinner from scratch can be faster than from a can
(For more from Bob Blumer head over to www.bobblumer.com)
Here's a breath of fresh air: a cookbook that just gets right into the recipes, without a preamble, without a foreword, without an introduction, and without lengthy endorsements by famous chefs or personalities. On page one the reader is greeted with a beautiful photograph of Penne with Fresh Tomato and Basil, accompanied by an equally compelling recipe. Sounds like a pretty serious book.
And it is. But there are a few touches of levity throughout Pasta: Classic and Contemporary Pasta, Risotto, Crespelle, and Polenta Recipes (John Wiley & Sons, $30), written by Gianni Scappin and Alberto Vanoli, chefs at the Culinary Institute of America — namely, quite a few of the recipes in the book have photographs of half-finished (or in some cases, totally devoured) dishes. What remains is often just a hint of what was there — and the intention is to convince the reader to cook said recipe. We were definitely convinced.
With mouthwatering recipes like Cocoa Pappardelle with Wild Boar Sauce; Risotto with Mussels, Saffron, and Zucchini Blossoms; and Polenta Dumplings with Truffled Cheese Fondue, it's hard not to have pasta, risotto, or polenta nearly every night from this book. Not everything is a huge affair, though; the simple and straightforward can also be found, such as Bucatini All'Amatriciana, Cacio e Pepe, and Orechiette with Broccoli Rabe, ideal for busy weeknights.
Looking for advice? It's tucked away in the back, for when you need it. There, you'll find help on how to make fresh pasta, shaping gnocchi, and keeping ingredients fresh. In short, this book has everything you need, and nothing you don't.
Classic linguine with clams gets a nice twist with the addition of mussels, and this one's a quick-cooking dish. (Photo courtesy of Francesco Tonelli)
Farro is an ancient grain that has come into a resurgence recently. Here, its nutty flavor combines well with the delicate flavor of chanterelle mushrooms. (Photo courtesy of Francesco Tonelli)
Enjoy the chewiness of farro? Then consider trying fregola, a similarly chewy pasta from Sardinia. (Photo courtesy of Francesco Tonelli)
Will Budiaman is the Recipe Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow him on Twitter @WillBudiaman.