Belfast Telegraph

Taste of Italy which is done by the book

Here's our verdict on the new recipe collection by Anna Del Conte. By Ella Walker

Simple solutions: Anna Del Conte
Simple solutions: Anna Del Conte

Milan-born food writer Anna Del Conte is an institution in the world of cookery books. Nigella Lawson, for instance, is a huge fan.

Known for her simple, classic Italian approach to food and getting the best out of ingredients, she's been writing and sharing recipes since her debut collection, Portrait Of Pasta, was published in 1976.

Here's what we think of her latest selection of dishes...

Who will love it?

This is not a book designed purposefully for vegetarians (although they are well catered for, and pretty much all the non-vegetarian recipes can be made so). It features meat and fish; however, these snippets of guanciale, hunks of a lamb and slippery fillets of anchovy are, at all times, there to enhance and amplify the veg, not obscure it. So if you adore vegetables, and are flexible when it comes to animal products, it should work for you.

What is it trying to get us cooking?

Veg, simply, and in line with the seasons, the crucial idea being to give your squashes, aubergines and peas "all the due reverence that they are in Italy".

How easy is it to use?

Extremely. Most of the recipes use barely a handful of ingredients, and half of those you're likely to already have in the cupboard (extra virgin olive oil is mandatory). And everything makes sense: Savoy cabbage stewed with sausages, baked asparagus wrapped in prosciutto, pumpkin gnocchi, fried courgette flowers - everything is gentle, achievable and not too time-guzzling.

The best recipe is...

A toss up between the leeks baked with cream and cheese (super moreish), and the grilled radicchio and chicory (very autumnal).

The dish we're least likely to try is...

The spinach mould (it's a bit like a souffle stuffed with spinach and quite retro) or the mashed potato, because everyone has their own special way of making mash (and Del Conte's addition of parsely is somewhat controversial).

Overall rating: 8/10.

  • Vegetables All'Italiana by Anna Del Conte, photography by Laura Edwards, is published by Pavilion Books, priced £20

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