This book is about cooking. Sure, there are plenty of recipes, but each recipe is a point of departure that encourages inspired cooking. Pasta Improvvisata isn't about religiously following a recipe to arrive at the perfect re-creation of an established Italian dish--there's a lot to be said for that, to be sure. There's a lot to be said for a recipe so well written that the unwitting cook is assured of putting on the table the same dish, right down to texture and aroma, that an Italian cook might be putting on his or her table. Marcella Hazan is a master of just such a recipe.
Erica de Mane's departure is to start with the feel of a particular Italian dish--just the approach or style--and then improvise with the kinds of ingredients actually available in American supermarkets. She ends up with dishes that are in the Italian spirit, but that speak to a willingness to be experimental, a willingness to say "Hey, these are the ingredients I have on hand, and this is the pasta dish that comes as a logical conclusion."
Roasted Asparagus Lasagne with Fontina springs out of a dish that's traditionally just asparagus roasted with butter and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Why not make it as lasagne? In the author's notes at the end of this recipe are several variations on the theme. She constantly coaxes the cook to reach out and try new things. How about Saffron Tagliatelle with Lobster, Tomato, and Cognac? Or Roasted Zucchini, Fennel, and Gruyere Tossed with Penne (which springs from the author's mother's sauce of sliced zucchini sautéed in olive oil)?
Tie on an apron before opening this book. You may not have the chance once you dive in. --Schuyler Ingle
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.