An engaging but only ambivalently ""modern"" collection of seasonal recipes from the Bolognese-born author of Northern Italian Cooking. Nuova cucina italiana is a less substantive departure from the classic preparations of its origins than its nouvelle counterpart; thus writers of ""modem"" Italian cookbooks are harder pressed to establish their own identities. Caggiano intends her book to incorporate contemporary trends toward lighter, plainer, healthier fare, with quick, uncomplicated and often impromptu assemblages, and use of labor-saving devices like food processors. But her recipes do not consistently embody these aims. Some substitute broiling for frying, some do not. Some use predominantly fresh ingredients in unobtrusive preparations, some remain very rich. We do get an interesting nuova Pork Tenderloin with Cherries, a streamlined Bollito Misto and a quick, low-calorie high-fiber and vegetable, reduced fat Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Cauliflower and Red Pepper, but heavy cream, butter, high fat cheeses, and processed meats also show up with alarming regularity, as do delicious but intricate and time-consuming recipes for stuffed pastas and desserts (Pumpkin Tortellini, Squash and Cheese Gnocchi). There are two appended chapters on pasta to be made in under 20 minutes, and pizza, calzoni, rustic pies and breads. Circumspect cooks are advised to skim the fast pasta entries before attempting, as, for example, one dish requires an hour's preliminary eggplant salting, and another requires a mixture to rest two hours before final assemblage. Caggiano is an earnest and knowledgeable cook with high standards and a desire for authenticity, but she hasn't committed to one approach. For the cutting edge of Italian freshness--and simple verve--a volume such as La Cucina Fresca, by La Place and Kleiman, is a more distinctive investment.