THE VEGETARIAN TABLE by Julia della Croce


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 This initial entry in an international vegetarian series disproves the myth that vegetarian cooking is always light and healthy. Della Croce (Antipasti, not reviewed) packs these simple recipes with large amounts of oil and cheese. In pasta recipes, her frequent encouragement to use some of the pasta-cooking water to keep things moist is puzzling, since oil-based preparations like walnut sauce and lemon-and-black-olive sauce have more than enough olive oil to coat the noodles. Although the introduction claims that the book contains ``many nonegg and nondairy recipes,'' vegans are pretty much out of luck here. Out of 19 main courses, only two contain no dairy or egg products, and one of those is unsauced polenta. (Several could easily be converted by replacing butter with olive oil, just as several pasta and soup dishes could be served without grated Parmesan sprinkled on top, but neither of these is provided as an option.) The use of animal products itself would not be objectionable, since della Croce correctly notes that many of the vegan first-course pastas and soups are substantial enough for a whole meal, but in main dishes like a zucchini casserole, one pound of mozzarella, one cup grated Parmesan, and four eggs cover up, rather than enhance, the fresh flavor of vegetables. Ultimately, since Italy's food is vegetable-based to begin with, many of these offerings have been covered in general Italian cookbooks by Marcella Hazan and others. Photographs have the rustic-yet-upscale look that is now apparently de rigueur for Italian cookbooks. Nothing new under the sun.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1994
ISBN: 0-8118-0458-5
Page count: 168pp
Publisher: Chronicle
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1994


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