Learn to Cook Italian With These Cookbooks

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What’s your favorite type of cuisine? Are you a fan of Thai? Do you love Indian food? Is Mexican food on your menu a couple of nights each week? Or, are you like a lot of people, and Italian food is your go-to?

If Italian food is your favorite – you’re not alone. A survey by YouGov found that 84% of people listed Italian as their absolute favorite cuisine. 

But if you’re only boiling up some spaghetti and throwing some jarred pasta sauce on top of it, it may be time to add to your Italian cooking repertoire. And here are a few cookbooks that can help you do just that.

  • Old World Italian: Recipes and Secrets from Our Travels in Italy: A Cookbook by Mimi Thorisson: This cookbook came out in the September of 2020 and quickly rose in popularity, with both Chowhound and Epicurious naming it one of the fall’s best cookbooks. The Amazon synopsis reads: 
    • Beloved for her gorgeous cookbooks, A Kitchen in France and French Country Cooking, Mimi Thorisson, along with her lively family and smooth fox terriers in tow, immersed readers in the warmth of their convivial lives in rural France. In their newest cookbook, the Thorissons pause their lives in the idyllic French countryside to start a new adventure in Italy and satisfy their endless curiosity and passion for the magic of Italian cooking.
    • Old World Italian captures their journey and the culinary treasures they discovered. From Tuscany to Umbria to Naples and more, Mimi dives into Italy’s diverse regional cuisines and shares 100 recipes for authentic, classic dishes, enriched by conversations with devoted local food experts who share their timeworn techniques and stories. You’ll indulge in dishes culled from across the country, such as plump agnolotti bathed in sage and butter from the north, the tomato-rich ragùs and pastas of the southwest, and the multifaceted, seafood-laden cuisine of Sicily. The mysteries of Italian food culture will unravel as you learn to execute a perfect Neapolitan-style pizza at home or make the most sublime yet elemental cacio e pepe.
    • Full of local color, history, and culture, plus evocative, sumptuous photography shot by Mimi’s husband, Oddur Thorisson, Old World Italian transports you to a seat at the family’s table in Italy, where you may never want to leave.
  • Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan: Every cuisine seems to have an “essentials” cookbook, and this is the one if you love Italian food. Amazon says: 
    • Essentials of Italian Cooking is a culinary bible for anyone looking to master the art of Italian cooking, bringing together Marcella Hazan’s most beloved books, The Classic Italian Cook Book and More Classic Italian Cooking, in a single volume, updated and expanded with new entries and 50 new recipes. Designed as a basic manual for cooks of all levels of expertise—from beginners to accomplished professionals—it offers both an accessible and comprehensive guide to techniques and ingredients and a collection of the most delicious recipes from the Italian repertoire. As home cooks who have used Marcella’s classic books for years (and whose copies are now splattered and worn) know, there is no one more gifted at teaching us just what we need to know about the taste and texture of a dish and how to achieve it, and there is no one more passionate and inspiring about authentic Italian food.
  • La Cucina: The Regional Cooking of Italy by The Italian Academy of Cuisine: This cookbook has 4.7 stars (out of 5) on Amazon and has received rave reviews if you want to explore the food in various parts of Italy. Amazon summarizes it by saying:
    • Fifty years ago, a group of Italian scholars gathered to discuss a problem: how to preserve traditional Italian cooking. They formed the Italian Academy of Cuisine to document classic recipes from every region. The academy’s more than seven thousand associates spread out to villages everywhere, interviewing grandmothers and farmers at their stoves, transcribing their recipes—many of which had never been documented before. This is the culmination of that research, an astounding feat—2,000 recipes that represent the patrimony of Italian country cooking. Each recipe is labeled with its region of origin, and it’s not just the ingredients but also the techniques that change with the geography. Sprinkled throughout are historical recipes that provide fascinating views into the folk culture of the past. There are no fancy flourishes here, and no shortcuts; this is true salt-of-the-earth cooking. The book is an excellent everyday source for easily achievable recipes, with such simple dishes as White Bean and Escarole Soup, Polenta with Tomato Sauce, and Chicken with Lemon and Capers. For ease of use there are four different indexes. La Cucina is an essential reference for every cook’s library.
  • Lidia’s Celebrate Like an Italian: 220 Foolproof Recipes That Make Every Meal a Party by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and Tanya Bastianich Manuali: Lidia Bastianich is a television chef that you most likely know. She is a celebrity chef who shares her love for Italian cooking whenever she can. Her cookbook is meant for everyone – from novices to advanced home cooks, and Amazon says this:
    • No one throws a party like Lidia Bastianich! And now, in this delightful new cookbook, she gives us 220 fantastic recipes for entertaining with that distinctly Bastianich flare. From Pear Bellinis to Carrot and Chickpea Dip, from Campanelle with Fennel and Shrimp to Berry Tiramisu–these are dishes your guests will love, no matter the occasion. Here, too, are Lidia’s suggestions for hosting a BBQ, making pizza for a group, choosing the perfect wine, setting an inviting table, and much more. Beautifully illustrated throughout with full-color photographs and filled with her trademark warmth and enthusiasm, this is Lidia’s most festive book. Whether you’re planning a romantic picnic for two, a child’s birthday party, a holiday gathering, or a simple weeknight family dinner, Lidia’s flavorful, easy-to-follow recipes and advice will have you calling to your guests: “Tutti a tavola a mangiare!”

Get ready to make your kitchen smell like the best Italian restaurant when you get your hands on one (or all) of these great Italian cookbooks.

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