Ciao Italia by Mary Ann Esposito

Ciao Italia: My Lifelong Food Adventures in ItalyMy rating: 5 of 5 stars

What always comes to mind when I think of really good Italian food is “simple”. Good ingredients treated simply, but well. Yes, there are more complex, harder dishes in Italian cuisine, but I love the simplicity of much of their food. Ciao Italia embodies that. When I first got the book, I was flipping through it with my daughters and a friend. It was non stop exclamations, oohs and aahs and “when are you making that?!” Expectations were high, so I dove in.

This brings me back to simplicity. I started with Gratin di Pomodoro (Tomato Gratin). Three main ingredients (seasonings and oil take it to 9) come together to form a culinary delight. I’ve made it twice already and am sure to make it again. I will say, don’t fudge on the bread. I didn’t have ciabatta bread the second time, so just used a basic “Italian” bread from the store. Nope. It soaks up too much juice and gets soggy, so you lose the nice crunchiness from the bread. Stick with ciabatta. It’s great!!

Speaking of bread, I love it. Just about any kind you can come up with I will love. Because of this, I went with Focaccia al Rosmarino, Pepe Nero e Aglio (Focaccia with Rosemary, Black Pepper and Garlic) next. Delicious! I messed it up a little as I got distracted and forgot that I had a THIN focaccia in the oven (I had been making a thicker version), so I overcooked it a bit. It was still delicious.

You can find a multitude of recipes, simple to complex, in this book sure to delight Italian food lovers everywhere. From Arancine Siciliana, a personal favorite, to Beef Stew with Polenta, Tuscan Bean Salad with Soppressata and even a Deconstructed Cannoli, this book is a passport to Italy. Dive in and experience the wonders of this lovely cuisine.

I received a copy of this book from Peter E. Randall Publishers through the Lisa Ekus Group for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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