Naturally Vegetarian

Cover of Naturally Vegetarian: Recipes and Stories From My Italian Family Farm by Valentina Solfrini

Naturally Vegetarian: Recipes and Stories From My Italian Family Farm
Valentina Solfrini
Avery/Penguin Random House, 2017

There’s a theory that most people don’t buy cookbooks to cook from but rather to gaze at the pictures of glorious food. If that’s your reason for buying cookbooks, then I think you’re going to want Naturally Vegetarian. Because every photo of every dish looks like a Renaissance still life masterpiece.

Food blogger Valentina Solfrini created the blog Hortus Cuisine with the goal of sharing her down to earth yet innovative dishes with her friends in New York. Naturally Vegetarian is the logical extension of that; a collection of recipes, arranged by season, that celebrate simple (vegetarian) Italian fare as she creates with her family on their farm in Gradara. Solfrini starts with some basics; a pantry list, required equipment (she uses non-stick pans which is my only complaint about the book, food this beautiful deserves proper cookware), and a section of recipes for basics such as stock, ragu, and marinara sauce.

Pastas, polentas, risottos, and pizzas share space with rustic side dishes such as fennel gratin or grilled porcini mushrooms, there are plenty of desserts and breads, and even a section of Italian pantry items such as passata and marinated olives to try.

Besides being gorgeous to look at, this is a wholly usable book; instructions are easy to read and measurements are offered in metric, Imperial, and ounces where applicable. Vegan variations are offered when a dish calls for dairy or eggs, and despite the rustic charm of the book, Solfrini is not afraid of modern ingredients such as brewer’s yeast to give her vegan dishes as much flavour as the vegetarian version.

Recommended for all vegetarian cooks, as well as lovers of food porn and Renaissance art.

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