Thursday, November 1, 2018

Tasting Italy - Cookbook Review + Recipe

About Tasting Italy

• Hardcover: 384 pages
• Publisher: National Geographic (October 23, 2018)

The experts at America's Test Kitchen and National Geographic bring Italy's magnificent cuisine, culture, and landscapes--and 100 authentic regional recipes--right to your kitchen. Featuring 100 innovative, kitchen-tested recipes, 300 gorgeous color photographs, and 30 maps, this illustrated guide takes you on a captivating journey through the rich history of Italian cuisine, region by region. Rich excerpts feature the origins of celebrated cheeses, the nuances of different wine growing regions, the best farmer's markets in Venice, and more. Intriguing prose illuminates key ingredients, from olive oil and how it's made to the various pasta shapes of Northern Italy. In every region, the food experts at America's Test Kitchen bring it all home, with foolproof recipes for standout dishes as well as hidden gems: Piedmontese braised beef in lustrous red wine sauce, crispy-custardy chickpea flour farinata pancakes from Genoa (achieved without the specialty pan and wood-burning oven), and hand-formed rustic malloreddus pasta of Sardinia that is a breeze to make

My Thoughts:  This cookbook is gorgeous!  I expected it to be a good cookbook because I've tried a number of America's Test Kitchen cookbooks and have had very good luck with all of their recipes.  But I was blown away by just how gorgeous this cookbook is.  It's like a trip to Italy in a book with all kinds of photographs and stories.  The recipes are divided by region which I loved and span from appetizers to bread to main courses to deserts.  There's a little something for everyone here.  There's plenty of non-meat recipes as well as seafood, chicken, beef, and veal.  I really don't even know where to start!  Since it is starting to get chilly I thought I'd share this yummy soup recipe from the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region.

Barley and Bean Soup:

Salt and pepper
8 ounces (1 1/4 cups dried cranberry beans, picked over and rinsed
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil plus extra for serving
4 ounces pancetta cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1 onion, chopped fine
3 garlic cloves, minces
2 bay leaves
1 cup pearl barley
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

Dissolve 1 1/2 tablespoons salt in 2 quarts cold water in large container.  Add beans and soak at room temperature for at least 8 hours or up to 24 hours.  Drain and rinse well.

Heat oil in large saucepan over medium-high heat until shimmering.  Add pancetta and cook until browned and fat is rendered 5 to 7 minutes.  Add onion and 1 teaspoon salt and cook until softened and lightly browned, 5 to 7 minutes.  Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Stir in beans, 12 cups water, and bay leaves and bring to boil.  Reduce heat to medium low and cover, leaving lid slightly ajar.  Simmer stirring occasionally, until beans are tender about 1 hour.

Stir in barley and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until barley is tender, beans begin to break down and soup has thickened about 1 hour.

Discard bay leaves.  Stir in parsley and vinegar and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Adjust consistency with hot water as needed.  Drizzle individual portions with extra oil before serving.

Doesn't that sound perfect for colder evenings?  If you've ever wanted to travel to Italy or you simply love a gorgeous cookbook with interesting and reliable recipes you must pick this one up!


Purchase Links

National Geographic | Amazon | Barnes & Noble


  1. My mum is a big fan of America's Test Kitchen; she's bought a few pieces of cookware just based on their comparisons.

  2. I love a lot of the ingredients that feature in Italian cookery - tomatoes... onions... basil... yummmmm

  3. I watch America's Test Kitchen quite a bit and they give really good advice. Looks like I need to check out this book too! Happy Friday! RO

  4. I didn't realize this was from America's Test Kitchen. I used to watch it as a kid randomly. The recipe looks really simple which I appreciate. I hate complicated recipes with a laundry list of groceries to buy. I might try it out. Thanks (:

  5. Very interesting to see barley in this recipe. I had two cousins who married first generation Italian Americans and one wife always put barley in her pasta fagioli, and the other one always laughed at it. XD

  6. Oh that sounds lovely. Soup and cookbook. I get their emails but haven't tried an actual cookbook yet. Hmmm!