Culinaria Italy: A Celebration of Food and Tradition, edited by Claudia Piras, features the diverse regional cuisine of Italy with hundreds of recipes and photographs throughout its 380 pages. A few highlights include Risotto all Milanese, Lasagne al Forno, Cotechino in Galera (Stuffed Steak), Maritozzi (Raisin Buns), and Spezzatino di Maiale (Pork Goulash). I will also be sharing a recipe for Strascinati con la Mollica (Italian Pasta with Breadcrumbs) following the review.
Disclosure: I received this book from H. F. Ullmann Publishing in exchange for my honest review. All comments and opinions are my own. This post contains Amazon affiliate links. If you purchase something through the link, I may receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Looking for more in the Culinaria series?
Find my reviews here:
- Pumpkin Tarts and Culinaria Greece
- Túrós Pogácsa (Hungarian Quark Pogácsa) and Culinaria Hungary
- Rieslingsabayon (German Riesling Zabaglione) and Culinaria Germany
- Sorbete de la Rioja (Rioja Wine Sorbet) and Culinaria Spain
- Coconut Pudding and Culinaria China
- Pistou (Provençal Basil Paste) and Culinaria France
In addition to the amazing food, Culinaria Italy offers an in-depth look into the historical background of its people, local ingredients, and culture.
Specialty ingredients such as cheese, rice varieties, wine, ice cream; polenta, Grappa, and truffles are featured throughout the pages. Visual guides are also included for the different types of panini, seafood, cheese and sausage varieties, pasta shapes, Tuscan breads, tomatoes, pizza, melons, and citrus. Those new to working with seafood will benefit from the tips for picking out fresh fish, plus step by step photos on different techniques.
Chapters are divided based on region: Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Veneto-Venezia, Trentino-Alto Adige, Lombardia, Valle d’Aosta, Piemonte, Liguria, Emilia-Romagna, Toscana, Umbria, Marche, Lazio-Roma, Abruzzo-Molise, Campania, Puglia, Basilicata, Calabria, Sicilia, and Sardegna.
The striking photography is provided by Ruprecht Stempell. Photographs in a variety of sizes feature ingredients, people, and beautiful Italian scenery. Many of the recipes include a photo of the finished dish and a handful even have helpful step-by-step instructions.
Measurements for the recipes are listed in US Customary and Metric. The name of the dish is written in Italian and English. The recipe index at the end of the book is divided in an easy-to-use manner according to course.
Strascinati con la Mollica (Italian Pasta with Breadcrumbs)
Strascinati con la Mollica, from Puglia, is a simply dressed pasta using a handful of pantry staples. The pasta is lightly tossed with toasted breadcrumbs seasoned with anchovies and olive oil.
Strascinati are pasta squares named after the process of dragging them over a grooved pasta board to create a rough side to each piece. You can also use orecchiette, dried or fresh.
Don’t skip the anchovies. They just add an extra depth of flavor to the otherwise plain breadcrumbs. Toast the breadcrumbs well, until a deep brown color, before tossing in the pasta.
If desired, top the finished pasta with a little fresh parsley.
I also made Scaloppine al Limone (Veal Cutlets with Lemon Sauce), Zabaione (Zabaglione), Pizza alla Parmigiana (Pizza with Parmesan), and Punch al Miele (Honey Punch).
Scaloppine al Limone is made by marinating thinly sliced veal cutlets in a lemon olive oil sauce, then lightly pan-frying. After cooking, the original marinade is cooked down into a sauce with a bit of butter. They were perfect paired with a salad for a light meal.
Zabaione is a frothy, custard-like dessert that is made my whisking together egg yolks and sugar, then seasoning with cinnamon, Marsala, and rum. It is cooked over a low heat until smooth and frothy. I served it in dessert glasses with fresh berries and a little grated chocolate. Zabaione is also delicious served with ladyfingers.
Pizza alla Parmigiana (Pizza with Parmesan) is one of the twelve pizza toppings listed to accompany the basic pizza dough recipe. I made the pizza dough, divided it into four pizzas and topped them with diced tomatoes, parmesan, ricotta cheese, and olive oil. The toppings paired perfectly with the crisp crust.
The Punch al Miele (Honey Punch) from Basilicata was perfect for a cold winter’s day. Eggs are beaten until frothy, then mixed with honey, heated milk, and a little nutmeg. It was incredibly easy to make, but very warming. Honey lovers will also enjoy the Miele e Ricotta (Honey with Ricotta).
Culinaria Italy is a great choice for those who enjoy Italian food or want to learn more about the background of the cuisine. There is a little something for everyone. Pasta lovers will enjoy the abundance of pasta and sauces from dried to homemade and even filled pastas such as Pansoti, Ravioli, or Tortellini Romagnoli.
Most of the ingredients will be easy to locate for the average American cook. Some of the more difficult to locate ingredients include certain pasta shapes, corn schnapps, truffles, snails, and a few types of cheese. Recipes range from from the incredibly simple to the more impressive and complicated.
Strascinati con la Mollica (Pasta with Breadcrumbs) Recipe
Adapted from Culinaria Italy: A Celebration of Food and Tradition
Strascinati con la Mollica (Italian Pasta with Breadcrumbs)
- 2 salted anchovies
- 14 ounces (400 grams) strascinati or orecchiette
- 4-5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 1/2 cups (150 grams) breadcrumbs
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Wash the anchovies, scale them, then finely chop.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, just tender. Drain.
- Meanwhile, in a large skillet, drizzle olive oil over medium heat. Add the chopped anchovies and the breadcrumbs. Season with pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the breadcrumbs are deeply toasted. Toss in the drained pasta until coated. Finish with a little more olive oil if desired.
- Serve immediately.