How exactly do you review a cookbook? Do you read every word of every recipe? How many of them do you have to try? Those are the questions that went through my head when Mario Batali was on The Daily Show to promote his new cookbook Molto Gusto: Easy Italian Cooking. When I finally got a copy of the book from the library, I decided to read all the text that wasn’t within recipes, skim each recipe (read the title, look at pictures) and make at least one recipe from the book. Hopefully that’s good enough for you all.
Molto Gusto is divided into seven types of recipes: Vegetable Antipasti, Seafood & Meat Antipasti, Bruschetta & Cheese, Insalata, Pasta, Pizza, and Gelato & Sorbet. To be honest, most of the recipes in the book did not appeal to me; I hate cheese, which is a major component in Italian cooking. However, the pictures of the food were almost enough to convince me to try even the cheesiest recipe; they were beautiful. There was a picture for every single recipe, and they were pretty enough to be considered art (in my non-artist opinion).
I opted to make the “Green Beans with Charred Onions,” one of Batali’s simpler recipes. The recipe—which, in addition to green beans and onions, contains a sauce made of balsamic vinegar, orange juice, olive oil, and sea salt—was relatively easy to make and was quite good. This summer, when the family garden gives us more green beans than we know what to do with, I will definitely make it again.
However, though this recipe was easy, much of the supposedly “easy Italian cooking,” appears to be rather complicated. Even without considering the moderately advanced steps, many of the recipes are difficult due to specific, harder-to-find ingredients, which would certainly discourage me from making them. With that in mind, I’m giving Molto Gusto a 4/5. Its pictures are beautiful and the recipe I tried was good, but the potential complications of other recipes make it lose a point.
Watch Jon Stewart’s interview with Mario Batali
Buy the book