By Barry Bluestein and Kevin Morrissey
Barry Bluestein and Kevin Morrissey, the cookbook authors who taught America how to prepare satisfying, stylish, and virtually fat-free meals, have aimed their whisks at a perennially favorite cuisine, Italian cooking. In 99% Fat-Free Italian Cooking: All Your Favorite Dishes with Less Than 1 Gram of Fat, they combine two of the principal food trends of the times—our evolving love of Italian food and our growing embrace of healthy eating—to produce more than 150 easy recipes for sophisticated and scrumptious dishes that typify the way we eat today.
We have finally come to appreciate that overstuffed pizza, oversauced pasta, and omnipresent meatballs do not represent real Italian cooking, in which vegetables, grains, and seafood abound, meat is used sparingly, and restrained saucing is an art. Now Bluestein and Morrissey, about whom Health magazine said, "When it comes to light cooking, these guys know their stuff" revisit the gamut of classic Italian dishes, tempering the free flow of olive oil and stripping away superfluous residual fat.
Bluestein and Morrissey begin with a tempting array of antipasti, ranging from Parmesan Red Pepper Custard with Tomato Coulis, one of the ethereal little flans of the fog-shrouded Piedmont region, to a White Bean Spread flecked with bits of sun-dried tomato, from Spicy Chilled Calamari to bubbly Adriatic-style Broiled Sea Scallops.
Their selection of traditionally flavored soups includes Basil, Bean, and Barley Soup, a creamy Roasted Garlic and Onion Soup, and a Tuscan Mussel Stew brimming with cannellini beans. As an accompaniment, they offer several variations on basic Italian baker's loaves, including those with rosemary and anise flavorings, crispy breadsticks called Grissini, and a papery thin Sardinian Flat Bread. Those who prefer sweeter breads will enjoy traditional Milanese Panettone and an Almond-Glazed Panettone from Aosta, in the far northwestern corner of Italy.
99% Fat-Free Italian Cooking boasts such mouth-watering risottos as Quail-Leek Risotto, Roasted Yellow Pepper Risotto, and Risotto al Barolo, tinted a pretty ruby-red by the wine for which it is named; should you have any left over, you can make Risotto Cakes. Not surprisingly, there are a plethora of pasta presentations. Dishes featuring dried pasta range from Tomatoes, Potatoes, and Scallops on Penne, which pairs pasta and potatoes in the uniquely Italian way, to Rigatoni with Artichokes, Fava Beans, and Arugula, from light Pasta with Shrimp to rich, creamy Bucatini alla Carbonara, a fat-free rendition of a classic Roman presentation. Straightforward directions are provided for making fat-free fresh pasta using an egg-white-based egg substitute, as well as for making carrot pasta and spinach pasta. These fresh pastas are used in such dishes as Piedmontese Shrimp and Zucchini Agnolotti; Spinach Fettucine with Baccalà and Tomato, and Pumpkin Gnocchi.
The selection of seafood offerings includes simple Roasted Cod with Fennel on Arugula and Baked Fish Fillets in Tomato-Leek Sauce, as well as such more exotic fare as Monkfish Osso Buco and Baby Octopus Ragù. Dishes sporting meat and poultry include Veal Spiedini, the Italian version of brochettes; Turkey with Mushrooms, Zucchini, and Fennel; Chicken Piccata, and Pork alla Romana. Some dishes are served on any of a variety of polentas, such as Spinach and Roasted Garlic Polenta, Herb Polenta, and Mushroom Polenta. There's even a Roasted Pepper and Tomato Tart in a Roasted Polenta Shell.
Italian Potatoes with Onion and Rosemary; Rapini with Red Pepper, and Eggplant Fritters are among Bluestein and Morrissey's vegetable selections, while their salads include a Grilled Calamari and White Bean Salad served on a mound of red radicchio, Fava Bean and Dandelion Green Salad, and Orange-Fennel Salad. For a snack or a light meal, readers can choose from the likes of Individual Roasted Pepper and Portobello Pizzas; Tomato-Basil Focaccia with Bacon, or Sausage Calzones that feature homemade turkey sausage.
In the true Italian style, 99% Fat-Free Italian Cooking's desserts tend to be simple and straightforward—from Roasted Pears and Blueberries in Balsamic Vinegar to Campari Sorbet, Panettone Bread Pudding to Chocolate-Cherry Rice Pudding. Bluestein and Morrissey also provide a 99% Fat-Free Pantry, a Source Guide, and chapters on fat-free sauces and easily made liqueurs. Fabulous and versatile Italian cuisine is the perfect food for the start of the new century, and 99% Fat-Free Italian Cooking is an indispensable book for all Italian food-lovers who are concerned about dietary fat.
Barry Bluestein and Kevin Morrissey are the bestselling cookbook authors of three earlier 99% fat-free cookbooks, as well as of The Complete Cookie and The Bountiful Kitchen, a 1998 Julia Child Cookbook Award finalist. Their collaborations include In the Kitchen with Rosie. They live in Chicago, where for six years they were the owners of a cookbook store.
99% Fat-Free Italian Cooking:
All Your Favorite Dishes with Less Than 1 Gram of Fat
By Barry Bluestein and Kevin Morrissey
Information provided by the publisher.
This page created April 1999
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