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The Italian Country Table

(article, Kim Carlson)

One of my favorite pasta books is Beard on Pasta, and one of my family's favorite "recipes" from that book is hardly a recipe at all, but is more a suggestion of how to combine pasta with tuna, olives, and parsley (and lots of olive oil and garlic). It's a quick, delicious dinner that the children gobble up. 


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Recently looking through my well-loved copy of Lynne Rossetto Kasper's The Italian Country Table, I discovered something I'd missed earlier: the same dish, only here with a proper name, Friday Night Spaghetti with Tuna and Black Olives. Like James Beard, Kasper describes it as a quick dinner, but she draws upon on a few other ingredients — red onions, anchovy fillets, oil-cured olives, and capers — all of which deepen the flavor of the pasta and undoubtedly make it more authentically Italian. Even the children, who are now teenagers, agree this combination of ingredients is a welcome change of pace. 

In fact, I've never cooked anything from Kasper's book that I haven't wanted to make again (the Ziti With Tomatoes, Capocollo, and Diced Mozzarella is outrageously good). In many cases, the introductions to the recipes are as long as the recipes themselves, but that's because the author gives credit (often by name) to the many Italians whose recipes she adapts. 

Kasper is well-known for her first cookbook, The Splendid Table: Recipes from Emilia-Romagna, the Heartland of Northern Italian Food, and for her public radio program, also called "The Splendid Table." She's an enthusiastic and generous cook, and this book is both of those things, as well.

p(bio). [ "Kim Carlson"] is the editorial director of Culinate.

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