“Autentico” (St. Martin’s Griffin) by Rolando Beramendi, is aptly subtitled: "Cooking Italian the Authentic Way." In a nutshell, Beramendi’s well-researched book is the real deal.
Its 120 recipes provide instruction on how to make classic dishes from Spaghetti with Black Pepper and Pecorino Romano to Roast Pork Belly with Wild Fennel.
Highly regarded Beramendi is founder of the Italian fine food importer Manicarerri. He divides his time between New York, San Francisco and his home in Florence.
Home cooks will enjoy Faro and Zucchini Torta (recipe follows). Farro, an ancient grain, is packed with nutrition. When it’s cooked ahead of time it can be refrigerated or stored in the freezer. And if zucchini isn’t available, Beramendi suggests a substitute: Saute some chopped mushrooms, kale, onions or other vegetables.
FARO AND ZUCCHINI TORTA
(Serves 8 to 12)
Unsalted butter, for the pan
3/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more to finish
2 Tbl. mild extra-virgin olive oil
2 small zucchini, thinly sliced into 1/4-in. rounds
6 large eggs, beaten
2 cups cooked farro
1 cup fresh ricotta
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, torn
1/2 cup fresh flat-leafed parsley leaves, torn
Sea salt and crushed Tellicherry black peppercorns (season to taste)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Using a paper towel or pastry brush, generously butter a 10-inch springform pan. Dust the sides and bottom of the pan with 1/4 cup of the Parmigiano-Reggiano.
In a medium skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat until warm. Add the zucchini and saute until lightly brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly.
Meanwhile, beat the eggs well in a bowl. Add the farro, ricotta, zucchini and the remaining 1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano. Add the basil and parsley and season with salt and pepper. Pour the mixture into the prepared springform pan and cover the top with a sprinkle of Parmigiano-Reggiano. Bake until golden and firm and a paring knife inserted into the center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool to room temperature before slicing and serving.
Journalist Tom Witom, who lives in Elgin, has written extensively for years about food and the food industry. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.