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My Italian Garden: More than 125 Seasonal Recipes from a Garden Inspired by Italy [Paperback]

Viana La Place


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Book Description

May 8 2007

Viana La Place was raised on stories of family gardens told by parents who brought their love of the Mediterranean landscape with them from Italy when they settled in California. Viana herself, after living on and off in Italy for several years, made an Italian garden of her own behind her San Francisco home filled with fragrant jasmine, olive trees, wild arugula, rampant zucchini, and bright-colored lemons. Ever since, like the best Italian cooks, she has delighted in creating meals that require only a few of the freshest ingredients.

In My Italian Garden, La Place brings the earth to the table for readers who want to cook delicious dishes with minimum work and maximum flavor, reminding us that the most satisfying food is the simplest. In 125 uncomplicated recipes, cooks will find four seasons of mouthwatering offerings, perfect for weeknight dinners or entertaining, such as New Fava Bean and Spring Greens Soup, Spaghetti Tossed with Whole Basil Leaves and Lemon Zest, Panini with Grilled Zucchini and Ricotta Salata, Pizza Verde with Artichokes and Herbs, and Meyer Lemon Gelato with Fresh Figs and Pistachios.

Illustrated with charming, evocative watercolors, and filled with lyrical passages, My Italian Garden lets readers experience the magic of the Italian garden without leaving their kitchens.

From the introduction:
"Cooking from the garden is uncomplicated cooking. Why add extraneous ingredients to flavorful produce? In fact, you will want to keep preparations pure and simple to enjoy what you've harvested in its pristine state....An Italian garden is really a state of mind. You do not need an elaborate villa to create your Italian garden. The essence of Italy can be captured in pots on a sunny terrace or a shaded balcony. An Italian garden can be herbs growing on a sunny windowsill or the back steps. You can grow your garden on a large parcel of land or on a tiny patch of earth. I hope you will be inspired by my Italian garden to grow one of your own, no matter what the size, and experience the joys of cooking directly from your Italian garden."
--Viana La Place


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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Even home cooks who are unable to keep the hardiest of plants alive or who live in tiny, dark apartments will be enchanted by La Place's description of her bountiful garden. La Place (coauthor of Cucina Fresca) begins with a lyrical account of how she created the garden in her San Francisco home after observing some in Italy, and each seasonal section and recipe is accompanied by an inspiring meditation on the ingredients. The dishes are relatively simple: a Passato of Cannellini Beans and Cima di Rapa bursts with a heady flavor unusual for winter, while a fall pasta celebrates the flavor of just-picked artichokes highlighted with parsley and white wine. La Place's insistence on relying on her garden's bounty alone to supply dishes for each course and every season spurs her to great creativity, as exemplified by the "Caprese" salad that morphs through the year from the summer classic to a winter version with radicchio, orange zest and hazelnuts. Though cooks without a garden will not have quite the experience that La Place describes, just the idea of concentrating on a few fresh ingredients will remind them of just how extraordinary vegetables can be. Color illus. not seen by PW. (May 8)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

“My Italian Garden makes my mouth water and my fingers itch to be in the kitchen. The remarkable ease of the recipes, the ingenious combination of familiar ingredients, the dazzling colors, the bright enticing fresh flavors: Viana’s understanding of Italian tastes shines from every page. As for me, I’m dashing to make bread lasagna, hard-cooked eggs wrapped in basil leaves, a remarkably simple and creamy zucchini risotto, and fig and almond pesto."
--Carol Field, author of The Italian Baker, Italy in Small Bites, and Celebrating Italy

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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A banquet of delights! July 30 2007
By J. Obrecht - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The author's skillful writing and unabashed passion for Italy, Italian cooking, and her stateside Italian garden make this book a fun and insightful read from start to finish. At its outset, you journey to rural Italy, past and present, to experience the sights, scents, and flavors of true Italian cuisine. The author, who grew up in an Italian family, spent six summers researching in the seacoast area of Salento, working the olive groves, gathering herbs, and drawing culinary inspiration from townspeople. Another section, on creating an Italian garden in the U.S., is a must-read for gardeners! The attractive layout, easy-to-read print, and budget price are reader-friendly too. The recipes, 125 in all, are beautifully introduced, easy to follow, and arranged seasonally, to allow maximum usage of fresh produce. Best of all, every one we've made has tasted fabulous. Five stars for this book!
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book is a hidden masterpiece! May 19 2009
By Laura J. Flowers - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This book is glorious! The recipes are simple, clean, and stunningly beautiful.

The only thing that might not work for some is the complete lack of pictures. If you can get past that, this is truly a wonderful cookbook.
4 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully illustrated Feb. 24 2008
By Steely Dan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I am so impressed by Cindy Rosenheim's illustrations -- whimsical, evocative, utterly charming. They are a perfect complement to the text.
2 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It is what it is Feb. 8 2009
By Henry Wolford - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Hard not to like Italian food and this book has a fair number of relatively easy to follow recipes. Nothing to rave about and nothing to really hate. It is what it is, a cookbook.
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