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I absolutely love pasta, its one of my favourite foods, so naturally having a soft spot for the lovely Gino I had to buy this book. It has chapters covering the nutritional benefits of pasta, Gino's tips for the perfect pasta, fresh and filled pasta, dried pasta, baked and sweet pasta, like mamma used to make, pasta on the go and pasta for those with allergies. For each recipe there is an ingredients list, full clear instructions and beautiful photos. Gino also provides anecdotes or information relating to each recipte- really bringing the book to life. There are so many recipes I want to try and some firm favourites I have made time and again. I love the walnut and blue cheese salad its quick and easy to make and great for pack-up. The chicken in white wine sauce is also heavenly and very quick to make. There really are recipes for all occasions and tastes, and to suit all skills levels even including how to make pasta. I found that I did not need to buy many ingredients as many of them you would have and even those you do not were very easy to get hold of. Some of the recipes are every quick to make perfect after a day at work. A very inspiring book, very well written and easy to follow. A book you will never tire of and will take off the shelf time and again. Makes cooking fantastic tasting pasta easy.
I wrote a review recently on the Gino D'Acampo cookbook The iDiet. This is another book by Gino, and as there are a lot of similarities, apologies if I seem to be repeating myself at times. As I mentioned in my other review, I am not really a fan of Gino, but I do like Italian food and gorgeous looking cookbooks. As with the other book of his that I own, I got this from The Book People at work at a discounted price. THE BOOK Gino's Pasta: Everything You Need to Cook the Italian Way is a hardback book with 100 recipes for pasta dishes. The cover features a smiling Gino cradling a bag full of pasta. I am sure this cover is very appealing to some women and men, but I'd rather see the food, personally. The recipes feature both classic pasta dishes, new twists, veggie dishes, desserts and dishes for those with allergies. CHAPTERS The first 3 chapters are an introduction from Gino; a piece by a dietician about the nutritional benefits of pasta; and finally 'Gino's tips for perfect pasta'. The dietician's information on pasta was quite interesting as she discusses how pasta has been portrayed as 'the enemy' over the past few years due to the popularity of low-carb diets. However, she points out the health benefits of pasta eg. low fat and low GI, and gives some tips on making pasta dishes more healthy, such as choosing tomato based sauces, and keeping it al dente to keep the GI low. Gino's tips were also helpful - these tips included things that I didn't know, such as you should not cook pasta with the lid on the saucepan, and to stir the pasta in the boiling water every 2 minutes during cooking. Clearly the tips are nothing very technical and based on common sense, but it's nice to pick up wee tips to help you along in your cooking. RECIPES There are 6 chapters covering the 100 recipes in the book. As I did with my review of The iDiet, I will give a few examples of the recipes within them. 1) *Fresh and filled pasta* eg. Fresh egg tagliatelle; Pasta filled with roasted butternut squash and walnuts; Fettuccine with meat and red wine sauce; Raviloli with ricotta cheese and smoked salmon. This chapter is based on you making your own pasta. To be honest it's something I don't think I will be trying (not least because it looks SO messy and I don't have a pasta machine), but the recipe to do so seems very simple, and every ingredient and step is laid out in an easy to follow manner. 2) *Dried pasta* eg. Penne with rec chicory, sausages and red wine; Seafood linguine with chilli and white wine; Fusilli with chestnut mushrooms, leeks and mascarpone cheese; Spaghetti with anchovies, breadcrumbs and garlic. 3) *Baked and sweet pasta* eg. Cannelloni filled with rocket, spinach and ricotta cheese; Crispy topped farfalle with smoked salmon and chives; Sweet pasta cake with Amaretto liquer; Half-moon shaped pasta filled with chocolate chips and hazelnuts. I have to confess I haven't tried any of the dishes in this chapter yet as I live alone and it doesn't seem worth making an entire pasta bake which I'd then be eating for several days. These would be good recipes for a dinner party though. As for the sweet dishes, I'm not sure if I would like them, but I can't deny that the chocolate and hazelnut combo would be awesome with or without pasta! 4) *Like Mamma used to make* eg. Linguine with crab, fresh chilli and lemon zest; Lasagne with pesto; Spicy pasta with borlotti and cannellini beans; Bucatini with eggs, pancetta and Pecorino Romano. This is the chapter with the most recipes I would regard as 'classic' Italian dishes; the ones we'd think of if someone mentioned Italian cuisine. The dishes are hearty and rustic; full of typical Italian ingredients like cheese, fresh vegetables and garlic. Obviously the chapter title is so cliched it's unreal, but Gino does like to play up the whole Italian angle, and if people lap that kind of thing up then so be it. 5) *Pasta on the go* eg. Fusili with prawns and basil pesto; Shell pasta with courgettes, garlic and pancetta; Pasta bake with pancetta, rosemary and minced pork; Three bean and tuna pasta salad. I love this chapter as the majority of recipes are so simple and easy to rustle up for a nice lunch. They are easy to adapt to 1 person, and are based around quick methods and simple ingredients. For example, the Penne with courgetts, smoked salmon and lemon zest uses very few ingredients and is very easy to make, but tastes very flavoursome. 6) *Pasta for those with allergies* I thought this chapter was a great idea as it takes into account that some people will not be able to make some of the dishes in the book if they have a particular allergy. Some of the recipes are gluten free but I guess you can adapt ALL the recipes to be gluten free by buying the right pasta. I am also not sure why some recipes are 'egg free' when pasta contains eggs. Am I missing something? Several allergies are covered, and I will give a few examples. eg. Pappardelle with ham, mushrooms and cream (egg, fish and nut free); Gluten free penne with Italian sausages and rocket leaves (gluten, egg, fish and nut free); Rigatoni with soft cheese and Pecorino Sardo (meat, fish and nut free); Pasta soup with pumpkin, eggs and Cheddar cheese (meat, fish and nut free). PRICE The RRP of this price is £16.99. It's a little more than I would be willing to spend on a cookbook unless I knew I was going to be making the majority of recipes, but as I got this for £6 in work, I consider it fantastic value for money. OVERALL The recipes in this book vary in difficulty but there is nothing too challenging. Some may find a few of the recipes too simple. For example, I don't think the majority of people would need to see the recipe for the dish Pasta salad with courgettes and balsamic vinegar if I tell you that the other ingredients are feta cheese, garlic and oil. Did I say oil? I meant to say lots and lots and lots of oil. The above dish serves 4 people and Gino wants us to put in 5 tablespoons of olive oil, 'plus extra for drizzling'. I appreciate that olive oil is a huge part of Italian cookery, and it's used to enhance flavours, but eek! I am on WeightWatchers and there is no way I am putting in the oil recommended in these recipes. I use FryLight and I don't mind sacrificing a bit of flavour to make these dishes lower in fat. This is hearty, rustic, comforting food that is rich in oil and cheese. Which is great now and then for a bit of indulgence, but if you are a strict healthy eater, you may recoil at some of these recipes. I don't mind making them now and again, you just need to use your common sense about what you can eat, and I can adapt these recipes to make them a bit healthier. The ingredients for all the recipes are nothing too out of the ordinary, and you will not spend a fortune buying items for one recipe that you will never use again. I liked how many, many different types of pasta are used, and I look forward to trying kinds that I have never eaten before, such as Papardelle and Rigatoni. Gino thanks his food stylist at the beginning of the book, and I can understand why. I'd say about 90% of the recipes have at least one accompanying photo, and everything looks utterly delicious. The food is laid out on old wooden tables, adding to the rustic look and feel of the book. This is a gorgeous looking book and one I would recommend if you are a fan of pasta. Just watch your waistline.