“The Art of Pasta” by Lucio Galetto and David Dale

A year ago I bought, what looked like, an unused pasta machine at my local Emaüs charity shop.  I must admit that it has remained in its pristine state every since that day.  So when I got the chance to review The Art of Pasta for The Bath Cookbook Club, I jumped at it, thinking this was the opportunity I had been waiting for to get myself on the path to making my own pasta.

In the introduction to The Art of Pasta, Lucio Galletto, who has been a restaurateur in Sydney for over 25 years and comes from a family of restaurateurs in Liguria, writes that he wants the reader to discover the joy of making pasta as he did watching his mother rolling out the dough on the family kitchen table.  His aim, he says, is to give the reader the skills to master the simple basics of pasta making, as well as giving them the confidence to create the recipes included by his chef, Logan Campbell.

The Art of Pasta is a very beautiful book.  His two passions, Lucio tells us are cooking and art and he has combined the two in this book with illustrations by Luke Sciberras which complement the full page photos of the mouthwatering dishes taken by Anson Smart.  This, along with the size of the book {it’s quite a hefty tome} makes it possibly more suited to the coffee table than a small kitchen.

The chapter headings are: Making and Cooking Pasta, Soups and Broths, Basic Sauces, Dried Pasta, Fresh Pasta, Filled Pasta, Baked Pasta and Gnocchi, which I imagine pretty much covers the full gamut of the pasta genre.  There are recipes for a simple tomato sauce along with such classics as spaghetti with meatballs and carbonara sauce.  Other recipes use more unusual ingredients like stinging nettles, bottarga, cuttle fish, mussels, clams, sardines, porcini, rabbit, wild boar and pheasant,   Some of the ingredients I had never heard of, like Balmain Bugs, an Australian type of lobster, and Warrigal Greens, New Zealand spinach, but after a few trips to Wikipedia I was able to learn their European equivalent.

I decided to make the Bolognese-style Lasagne for my mother-in-law and some of her friends who were coming for Sunday lunch.  The pasta was in fact a lot simpler to make than I had imagined, but the quantities far too large.  Using 400gms of flour and four eggs (the recommended amount for four people), I made enough pasta for two lasagnes and two servings of tagliatelle.  As I didn’t have the instruction manual for my pasta machine I was completely relying on the book to show me how to make the pasta and found some of the practical information lacking, like having to flour the dough to put it through the cutter on the machine and hints on how long it would keep in the fridge (but it did have a section on how to colour and flavour your pasta using different vegetables like spinach, pumpkin or porcini).

The recipe for the Classic Bolognese sauce had a lot of ingredients, including minced veal, minced beef, chicken livers and pork sausages 60gms of porcini mushrooms (I used 15gms dried) and four different fresh herbs, making it quite expensive and time consuming to make.

The béchamel sauce recipe resulted in, probably, the smoothest one I have ever made.  Altogether the lasagne tasted delicious, was a great success and I got massive octogenarians’ thumbs up!

In the foreword, Logan Campbell, suggests you spend some time reading through the recipe, making sure that you properly understand the nature of the dish, before you embark on it.  I would also suggest that you have a pencil and paper to hand and prepare for a lengthy shopping list, as many of the ingredients are not ones usually found in most people’s kitchen cupboards.

I would give this book to someone who is a keen cook and enjoys sourcing their ingredients, who has a large kitchen, plenty of time and likes to be challenged with inspiring dishes.  The price of £25 seems very reasonable for such a substantial and beautifully presented book and about the same as it cost me to make the lasagne.

Further Information

Grub Street Books: www.grubstreet.co.uk

Follow on Twitter: @Grub_Street

Lucio Galetto: www.lucios.com.au

Follow on Twitter: @luciositalian

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