The Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan

At first glance, the recipes in The Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking may seem simple, with many using very few ingredients – notably the famous Tomato Sauce With Onion & Butter. However, the reader soon learns that Hazan’s expertise makes every recipe far more impressive than the sum of its parts. This book contains recipes for seasonal soups such as the Milan Style Summer Vegetable Soup, heavenly pasta dishes like such as the Cream and Butter sauce (also know as Alfredo sauce), as well as risotto, meat, fish, salads, desserts and more.

Hazan explains the three fundamental techniques for building flavour – battuto, soffritto and insaporire – whilst highlighting the regional diversity of Italy, making The Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking the perfect handbook for understanding Italian cuisine.

Here are some of my favourite dishes:

Chickpea soup

This heart-warming soup really brings out the flavour of chickpeas. I’d never heard of a chickpea soup before encountering this recipe, but it was so delicious that I’ve made it several times. Fragrant from the garlic and rosemary and full-bodied thanks to the tomatoes, chickpeas, and stock, this soup is sure to become a favourite of anyone who makes it.

Cannelloni with Meat Stuffing 

Silky sheets of homemade pasta encasing a flavourful filling of minced meat, ricotta, and parmesan, topped with a minced meat sauce and creamy béchamel – pure bliss. Set aside a few hours for this recipe and enjoy the beautiful hands-on process of making fresh pasta – you won’t regret it.

Grilled Chicken alla Diavola, Roman Style

Perfect for a barbecue, this chicken is marinated in lemon juice, black pepper and olive oil. The result is fragrant, juicy meat with a deliciously crispy skin.

Tomato Sauce with Porcini Mushrooms

The porcini lends an incredible depth of flavour to this dish. The sauce needs to simmer for 40 minutes and it’s well worth the wait.

 “Aio e Oio” – Roman Garlic and Oil Sauce

This is a classic Roman dish recipe featuring spaghetti, olive oil, garlic, red chilli pepper, and parsley – I didn’t have the last two ingredients on hand when I first made it, yet the flavour was still so moreish. See the full recipe here.

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