Paleo Italian Cooking: Authentic Italian Gluten-Free Family Recipes, written by Cindy Barbieri, includes 100 recipes for those who follow Paleo or Gluten-Free diets and still want to enjoy delicious Italian food. The book is set to be released on October 6th, 2015. Following the review, I will be sharing her recipe for Panna Cotta with Berries.
Disclosure: I was given a copy of Paleo Italian Cooking by Tuttle Publishing in exchange for my review. I do not personally follow Paleo or Gluten-Free diets. All opinions and comments stated here 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.
Cindy Barbieri was born in Massachusetts to an Italian-American family and currently live in Connecticut with her husband and Jack Russell Terrier. She developed her love of cooking from her Nana’s kitchen. She visits Italy for two weeks every year with a focus on the Tuscan region. Cindy is also the author of Cindy’s Table (not Paleo).
Paleo Italian Cooking
Recipes are divided based on course: Basic Recipes; Sauces and Condiments; Appetizers and Salads; Brunch; Tuscan Favorites; Soups, Stews and Chili; Meat and Poultry Main Courses; Seafood Main Courses; For Pasta Lovers (Squash and Cauliflower); Side Dishes; and Desserts.
In the first few pages, Barbieri offers a basic guide for visiting Tuscany, with names of her favorite attractions, activities, hotels, and restaurants. She states the book is not a primer on the paleo lifestyle. Those with no background whatsoever the the paleo diet will need to look elsewhere to find out what it is all about. She does include lists of the basic ingredients to stock the Paleo Italian pantry and kitchen tools and gadgets. She even goes as far as to explain the various knives used in cooking and also includes charts for metric conversions, quantity equivalents, and desired temperature for meats.
Color photography is provided by Nicole Alekson. Most of the recipes (over 90) include a 1/4 to full page photo. Some are also step-by-step.
Every recipe includes a headnote with cooking tips and anecdotes, such as ways to avoid staining your fingers when working with beets, how to get a nice sear on chicken, roasting red peppers, and how to cut thin slices of beef.
This book is a great choice for those looking for Italian recipes that fit into a paleo or gluten-free diet. It is also perfectly geared for the novice cook. Barbieri offers step by step instructions on various cooking methods such as chopping onions and garlic, cooking tips, and other basics that are helpful for those new to cooking. While the recipes are gluten and refined sugar free, they are heavier on meats and animal products so probably not the best choice for vegetarians and vegans. Coconut products are also abundant, so keep that in mind if you have a coconut allergy.
Panna Cotta with Berries
Panna Cotta is an Italian dessert that translates to cooked cream. Traditionally, gelatin is added to sweetened cream, heated, then refrigerated until set. Barbieri has made it Paleo-friendly by substituting coconut milk for the milk and honey/coconut sugar for the refined sugar. I really loved this version of Panna Cotta. Chad did too. I served them topped with fresh strawberries and blueberries, but your favorite berries or seasonal fruit will work well.
This was actually my first time purchasing/using coconut sugar. Coconut sugar is made from the sap of the coconut palm tree. While it is still mostly a sweetener, coconut sugar holds on to quite a few nutrients such as antioxidants, zinc, and iron. It also has a lower glycemic index. It is available in the baking section of many larger supermarkets or on Amazon: Coconut Sugar.
I used full fat canned coconut milk.
Don’t top with the berries (or seasonal fruit) until right before serving.
I also made Italian-Style Tomato Salad; Meaty Italian Frittata; Lemon, Spinach and Prawn Soup; and Chicken Scaloppine in Lemon-Caper Sauce.
I still have a ton of cucumbers and tomatoes in the garden, so I made the Italian-Style Tomato Salad for lunch one day. Sliced cucumber, tomatoes, and red onion are tossed in a red wine vinegar shallot oil dressing, then topped with capers and fresh basil. It was light and refreshing. I am definitely going to miss cucumbers and tomatoes when summer comes to a close.
Of all the recipes I made, the Meaty Italian Frittata was Chad’s favorite. He likened it to a meat lover’s pizza minus the dough. Eggs are combined with green onions, sausage, ground meat, mushrooms, bell peppers, and a bit of coconut milk for creaminess. It was quite the protein-packed/meat lover’s meal.
The Lemon, Spinach and Prawn soup was a healthy and delicious weeknight starter or meal. This creamy soup uses coconut milk, white wine, chicken broth, leek, and garlic as the base. The immersion or stand blender smooths out the texture before the addition of sautéed prawns. My picky son even ate it!
The Chicken Scaloppine was another great weeknight meal. Thinly sliced and pounded chicken breasts (scallopine) are seared in a hot skillet, then combined with a lemon white wine caper sauce. Instead of the usual flour coating, the chicken is simply seasoned with salt and pepper. With the flavorful sauce and cooking style of the chicken, the flour coating wasn’t missed.
Panna Cotta with Berries Recipe
Adapted from Paleo Italian Cooking
Panna Cotta with Berries
- 1 1/2 cups (375 ml) full fat coconut milk room temperature
- 1 tablespoon unflavored powdered gelatin
- 2 1/2 cups (625 ml) heavy cream
- 1/3 cup (80 ml) raw honey
- 1 tablespoon coconut sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 cups (250 grams) fresh berries
- In a medium saucepan, pour in coconut milk. Sprinkle with the gelatin and allow to sit for 5 minutes.
- Place the saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the gelatin has thoroughly dissolved and the coconut milk is hot, without boiling, about 5 minutes.
- While continuously whisking, pour in the heavy cream, honey, coconut sugar, vanilla extract, and salt. Continue to whisk until the sugar and honey has dissolved, another 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Divide the mixture among 6 serving glasses or ramekins. Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled and set, 3 hours to overnight.
- Serve chilled and topped with berries.