Italian Country Cooking


Healthy, delicious, and surprisingly simple to prepare. These are the characteristics that best describe Italian Country Cooking.

Now for the first time, Susanna Gelmetti, known internationally for her cooking courses in Italy's Umbria and Apulia regions, shares the bounty of these cuisines in Italian Country Cooking. Umbria, the relatively unknown neighbor of Tuscany, boasts a classical landscape that produces delightful wines, delicate olive oils, and hearty dishes flavored with garlic. Apulia, a region down in the heel of Italy, has a quintessential Mediterranean cuisine: fresh vegetables, fish, tomatoes, pasta, and olive oil.

The fusion of the cuisine of these two regions is what sets Italian Country Cooking apart from other cookbooks. Over 100 recipes are designed to suit any and every occasion, are easy to follow, and do not require hard-to-find ingredients. Here you will acquire confidence in a few basic techniques, and then cook in a relaxed and joyful mood-an essential accompaniment to all Italian food.

Start with Antipasti and choose from such delights as Red Onion Frittata, Grilled Courgette and Goat's Cheese Parcels, and, of course, learn the secret for making perfect pizza.

Next move on to Primi piatti (the first course) where pasta is one of the basic ingredients. Try a pasta recipe, or experiment with risotto or a nourishing soup. You'll learn to make perfect fresh egg pasta, perfect gnocchi, and perfect risotto along the way.

Secondi piatti consists of meat and fish recipes: Veal Noisettes with Grapes and Pomegranates, Apulian-Style Roast Lamb with Potatoes, and Fillets of Seabass or Trout with Oranges and Artichokes are among the delicacies on the menu.

Italians are passionate about vegetables, and in Verdure you'll find vegetable dishes that when coupled together produce hearty meals, yet can stand alone quite beautifully as accompaniments to meat and fish. Broad Beans and Chicory can be served followed by a dish of stuffed vegetables, baked onions, and a salad of mixed greens to create a complete meal, for example.

For centuries Italy has been famous for frozen confections. Cakes and ice creams are eaten to round-off a meal, but can also be enjoyed as snacks throughout the day. A slice of cake and a glass of wine is a very homey Italian indulgence. Dolci features many delectables: Apricot and Amaretti Tart, Chilled Zabaglione, and Chestnut Semifreddo to name a few.

Italian Country Cooking is filled with beautiful illustrations and photographs. This book is a refreshing new resource for those who love Italy and its flavors.


Penne con Ricotta, Limone e Basilico

Penne with Ricotta, Lemon and Basil

A very refreshing pasta, wonderful followed by a salad of mixed leaves with plenty of fennel, carrots, spring onions (scallions) and maybe the red onion frittata. This is a light summer dinner to impress all vegetarian friends, and it can be prepared in under half an hour. Remember to buy the freshest ricotta available.

  • 200 g / 7 oz (scant 1 cup) fresh ricotta cheese
  • Thinly pared zest of lemon, finely chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • A generous amount of fresh basil leaves, roughly torn
  • 400 g / 14 oz penne or any shore dried pasta
  • 50 g / 2 oz (1/2 cup) freshly grated parmigiano Reggiano
  • Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling

In a large bowl heat the ricotta with the lemon zest using a balloon whisk, adding salt, black pepper and the basil. Cook the pasta in plenty of lightly salted boiling water. Add a ladle of water from the pasta to the ricotta mixture to moisten it a little and them place the bowl over the pasta pan for a few minutes to soften the mixture. When the pasta is al dente drain it and mix with the ricotta. Sprinkle with the Parmesan and drizzle with a little olive oil.

Serves 4


Asparagi Al Forno

Baked Asparagus

Asparagus is very dear to the Italians, especially in the north where they like to serve it with butter and Parmesan and a fried egg on the side. This more rustic Umbrian version with olive oil is equally delicious and probably has more flavour.

  • 800 g / 1-1/2 lbs white or green asparagus
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 90 ml / 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 50 g / 2 oz (1/2 cup) freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano—the best Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C / 350 degrees F / gas mark 4.

Clean the asparagus the trim off the woody ends of the stalks if necessary. Place the asparagus in a pan of lightly salted boiling water and cook for about 8 minutes over a moderate heat. The water should be simmering, not boiling.

Drain with a slotted spoon and lay the asparagus in a buttered terracotta dish. Season with a pinch of salt and black pepper. Drizzle the olive oil over the top and sprinkle with Parmesan. Bake in the preheated oven for about 6-7 minutes, until lightly golden.

Serves 4


Recipes from:
Italian Country Cooking
by Susanna Gelmetti
Illustrations by Robert Budwig
Ten Speed Press
Publication Date: July 1, 1996
$16.95, paper, 8-3/4 x 9-1/4 inches, 128 pages
ISBN: 0-89815-828-1
(Reprinted with permission)

This page originally published as a FoodDay article in 1997.

Copyright © 2007, Forkmedia LLC. All rights reserved.

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This page modified January 2007

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