07 February 2009

Peperonata and other Italian Dishes

In Britain, Penguin published a series called Penguin 60’s. They are small paperbacks culled from books previously published by Penguin. The books run about 60 pages and cost 60p, about $1. Peperonata and other Italian Dishes by Elizabeth David collects some basic recipes from her many cookery books.

David was one of the first cooks to stress the need for fresh ingredients, and simple preparations. A friend of mine who was an editor for Vogue traveled with David to Italy after WWII. England had suffered under rationing for so long and David was thrilled to be out in the Italian countryside. She would yell at the driver to stop the car for no reason, bolt out and begin picking fresh herbs, or collecting wild onions, or garlic.

Yesterday, we pulled the last of the turnips from the 2008 garden. I thought of this recipe as they sat on the table.

Navoni all’Agliata
(turnips with Garlic sauce)

A Genoese dish. Blanch the peeled turnips in boiling slated water for 5 minutes. Cut them in quarters and put them in to stew gently in a small heavy pan with plenty of olive oil and season them with salt. Prepare the agliata by pounding two or three cloves of garlic in a mortar and add in a little vinegar. When the turnips are cooked, add this mixture to the turnips; stir well so that the garlic sauce is well amalgamated with the oil, add a little parsley and serve.
Elizabeth David understood fresh ingredients and simple preparations long before they became fashion. If you don't own one of her cookbooks, you are missing out on a great cook and a greater writer.

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