Recipe book: Cooking with Nonna

Today I’m back in the kitchen and I’m transporting you to Italy. Through its food, of course, and delicious dishes from the fabulous book Cooking with Nonna. Italian grandmothers are legendary for their recipes and for passing on their skills and ideas down the generations. My grandmothers and mother were never much into cooking which meant I developed my love of it later in life. So I’m really quite envious of author Rossella Rago who grew up cooking with her Nonna Romana every Sunday, learning the traditional recipes of the Italian region of Puglia.

She’s talked to a selection of Italian-American Nonnas to put together this lovely book which is a celebration of Italian holidays. Nine Italian grandmothers share their cherished recipes for classic dishes to make for every occasion. It’s packed full of mouth-watering ideas including pizza, pasta, fish, meat, celebratory pies, both sweet and savoury, exotic bread recipes and plenty of delicious puddings, cake and pastries. And there’s a lot of really different stuff here. How about a Neapolitan ricotta and semolina cake or a Neapolitan spaghetti pie? Or little hats filled with cheese and mortadella in broth? Wow!

What did I cook?

I tested out the pappardelle with lamb ragu and fresh mint. A fabulously rich and satisfying dish with silken pasta ribbons. The aromas that filled the house as this cooked were incredible. And the last-minute fresh mint addition added that extra little something.

Cooking with Nonna: ragu
Beautifully rich lamb ragu bubbles away
Cooking with Nonna: ragu
The sauce perfectly coats the lush pasta ribbons
Cooking with Nonna: ragu
Close up on the delectable dish

Creating something sweet

Time for some baking. Let’s just say I’m still working on my baking skills so am always slightly trepidatious when I embark on a new recipe. But today I wasn’t disappointed as my lemon drop cookies came out perfectly.

Cooking with Nonna: cookies
Delicate and zesty lemon drop cookies

There’s so much to try in this book (over 100 recipes to be exact), I expect I’ll be going back again and again. And there are also fascinating foodie stories from the beloved Nonnas, enough in themselves to inspire anyone to get cooking. As Nonna Carmela Tornatore says: “Food in an Italian family not only feeds your family, but it also feeds your soul and your heart.” Love that, let’s make it for every family, Italian or not!

Cooking with Nonna: A year of Italian holidays is available on for £19.99.

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