Review: Everyday Italian: 125 Simple and Delicious Recipes

Everyday Italian: 125 Simple and Delicious Recipes
Giada de Laurentiis. New York: Clarkson Potter/Publishers, 2005.
ISBN 1-4000-5258-0
$32.50

Review by Jacquelyn Thayer

Italian cuisine has long been a favorite of Americans, so much so that it has become convenience food. Jars of highly-processed tomato sauces line grocery store shelves, while pizza is one of the nation’s most popular fast food choices. In Everyday Italian: 125 Simple and Delicious Recipes, however, Food Network star Giada de Laurentiis shows that authentic Italian cooking celebrates freshness and flavor, without requiring great expense of money or time.

The book is arranged by course, beginning with antipasti and ending with dolci, or sweets. The recipes strike a nice balance between main dishes and sides, healthy and rich fare, and meals with meat or fish and those without. Helpfully, the book also includes a list of suggested items to stock in your pantry. A majority of the ingredients used can be found in most grocery stores, although a handful of recipes call for less common items that are more likely to be found in a specialty store. Success of many of the recipes depends upon use of fresh ingredients, but this does not have to be expensive, provided the recipes are prepared seasonally. De Laurentiis also occasionally makes use of shortcuts such as pre-washed baby spinach and store-bought (but freshly-baked) pound cake.

Each recipe is headed by technical or historical information about it and the book includes vibrant color photographs of some of the recipes and ingredients. De Laurentiis says that she believes “a great meal does not have to be difficult or complex,” and she demonstrates this with her easy-to-follow instructions. Everday Italian is a great resource for anyone interested in a fresh approach to the food of Italy.

Originally published on Beyond Barbecue, May 24, 2006

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