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Ciao Italia Pronto!: 30-Minute Recipes from an Italian Kitchen Hardcover – September 22, 2005

8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

After writing seven Italian cookbooks, Esposito, host of the PBS series Ciao Italia (now in its 15th season), has successfully devoted one to cooks who are time-pressed but still want to enjoy authentic Italian flavors. It covers antipasti, pasta, sauces, meats, sides, pizzas and desserts, with bolstering chapters on time-saving techniques (e.g., using leftovers effectively), stocking ingredients for the "pronto pantry" and planning menus for various occasions (most of Esposito's recipes are impressive enough for entertaining). Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Orange Marmalade Sauce manages to capture a roasted-all-day taste in 20 minutes, and would make a lovely meal when accompanied by one of Esposito's several appetizing salads. Making a large batch of the Tomato Sauce and freezing it—a favorite activity of Italian-American home cooks—proves worthwhile as it is a frequent ingredient in numerous recipes, including Lazy Lasagna, and Layered Eggplant and Zucchini Casserole. Italian food is by nature simple, and Esposito's everyday fare perfectly exemplifies that minimalism. 8-page color photo insert. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Cooks pressed for time will love Esposito's newest volume. Here she focuses on dishes that take less than half an hour to get to the table. For a super quick appetizer, Esposito stuffs dates with Parmesan cheese and nuts. Frozen prepared puff pastry makes possible tartlets filled with cheese and bits of ham. A host of pasta dishes can all be prepared very quickly. Bucatini all'Amatriciana needs only a few minutes on the stove, and any pasta with pesto needs no cooking save for the pasta itself. Esposito even constructs a speedy "lazy lasagna" using no-boil noodles. Quickly sauteed fish pick up flavor and texture from cheese and almond coating. Neapolitan Potato Pie moves quickly to table if one has some leftover mashed potatoes on hand. Store-bought bread dough makes short work of both pizzas and calzones. A food processor expedites anise cookies for a homemade dessert. As with other cookbooks promising fast-prepared food, this book assumes that one maintains a wide range of Italian foods in one's pantry and refrigerator. Mark Knoblauch
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; 1st edition (October 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312339089
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312339081
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 0.9 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,358,977 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Mary Ann Esposito is the creator and host of public television's Ciao italia, a cooking show devoted to Italian food and culture. The show has been on the air for 25 years, the longest running cooking show ever. Ciao Italia is seen in all major markets across the U.S.

Mary Ann has written 12 cookbooks. Learn more about her at and sample the more than 1000 recipes and videos on her site.Visit her on

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Penumbra on September 30, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"Ciao Italia Pronto!" is a better cookbook in theory than in practice.

Italian food? Check! Thirty minute meals? Check! Sounds like just the thing to make a nice meal and still have some time between getting home from work and bedtime. That would be a false assumption.

American kitchens are certainly more sophisticated since the days when Chef-Boy-Ar-Dee owned the Italian cooking franchise. However, many of the ingredients called for in these recipes are still on the exotic side in my corner grocery. Sure, we have farmers markets, Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, even an Italian specialty market or two but, if I have to fight traffic gridlock after work to go destination shopping for ingredients, it defeats the purpose of the Thirty Minute meal. The author recognizes this problem and provides a four page directory of mail order houses to obtain some of the required ingredients. This immediately makes about 40 percent of these recipes more trouble than they're worth.

If you do manage to find the ingredients, know that these recipes are neither simple, nor fast.

The recipe for "Lazy Lasagne" requires eight ingredients, and bakes for 30-35 minutes. That's cooking time only, and does NOT include prep time. Oh, and the tomato sauce for the lasagne is a recipe on a separate page. The sauce requires an additional eight ingredients and 20 minutes of cooking time.

Another main dish, "Fresh Tuna with Artichoke, Capers and Chickpeas," requires 12 ingredient and we're advised to make it early in the day, or a day ahead.

Some of the dishes are unfamiliar and pictures of the prepared food would have been a big help.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By anneeavon on October 21, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have seen many Ciao Italia shows with Mary Ann and her love of food and easy steps can make anyone an Italian cook. All her books are well written and easy to follow, so enjoy!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By tmp on March 2, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition
I'm really surprised by the bad reviews. There is nothing wrong with this book. It's full of simple, delicious recipes that work and I don't find that the ingredients are too difficult to find. Granted, I have an extensive pantry full of Italian products so I don't have to work as hard as some because I already have most of the ingredients on hand already. That's the point though, isn't it? If you have a well-stocked pantry, you'll probably only have to get your proteins and produce. If you grow fresh herbs like I do in the summer, you'll have to work even less. She has a whole section in the beginning of the book that discusses what types of products to have on hand, and if you do, it's rather easy to whip up a meal. Maybe the book is not for people unwilling to hunt down and keep good Italian products around. I cook Italian food most of the time so for me, this book works. I find the recipes to be rather easy as well.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By pk on June 23, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a book, unlike a magazine which has pictures and mostly brief recipes. This is a very well written book to help organize a kitchen so that meal preparation is "Pronto!" Mary Ann advises on the ingredients to stock the pantry, fridge and freezer. My supermarket carries all of the ingredients she suggests, except for some cheeses which can be substituted. Bagging tomato sauce to store in the freezer is brilliant, but a jarred sauce would do in a pinch!I love that she uses fresh ingredients, and is hip enough to use no cook lasagna noodles and bake pears in the microwave! She is THE authority in Italian cooking.
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