Cookbook Review: Mastering Pasta The Art and Practice of Handmade Pasta, Gnocchi, and Risotto

Sunday, March 22, 2015

<a href="">Mastering Pasta: The Art and Practice of Handmade Pasta, Gnocchi, and Risotto</a><img src="" width="1" height="1" border="0" alt="" style="border:none !important; margin:0px !important;" />

Having not know who Marc Vetri is (one of the best pasta chefs on the planet), I am completely smitten with this book.  To my surprise, I found Mastering Pasta captivating from the first page when he shared his philosophy that pasta and sauce are two entities that become one, like a marriage, and should be treated as such.  I also enjoyed his personal stories of travel and culinary discovery throughout the book and caught myself smiling at his genuine enthusiasm and passion for pasta.

As I read through the different chapters of pasta, gnocchi, and risotto, I was inspired to dust off my hand crank pasta machine as well as all my gadgets to try some of the recipes.  Having made pasta from scratch only a few times, I decided to tackle the easier recipes first.  I wanted to make his potato gnocchi since all of the recipes that I had tried before failed.  They all turned out very gummy and dense.  His potato gnocchi is the best I have had thus far.  They are light and paired perfectly with the short ribs ragu we made instead of the corn crema that the recipe called for.  Chef Vetri gives you the secrets for making the best gnocchi like what type of potato and flour to use and why moisture matters.  I attempted the squash gnocchi with brown butter and crispy sage another day and it took less than 2 hours before we had a delicious dinner ready for my family.  Our other favorite is the spaghetti with tomato and basil sauce since we had both tomatoes and basil from our garden.  It was such a simple dish but the flavor was spot on.  Our toddler ate it two days in a row for lunch and dinner.  The last dish that we made was ricotta ravioli which turned out just as we hoped for!  His philosophy of the pasta dish being a marriage between the pasta and sauce is evident in the recipes that he presented.  

I’m looking forward to making the squid ink linguine with uni and crab since I had a really good dish from chef Richard Blais’ restaurant and would love to compare them.  Other dishes that look interesting are the pappardelle with rabbit ragu, eggplant cannellini, heirloom tomato and burrata lasagna, cocoa fettuccine with venison ragu, and shellfish risotto.  Honestly, all the recipes sound very interesting and I would love to cook them all if someone babysat for me with a nice pasta dinner in exchange.

I have quite a number of pasta books in my collection and can honestly say that he has opened my eyes to a whole new world of pasta.  The book taught me the fundamentals of pasta making but got me even more excited about new flavor combinations--using mint, saffron, parsley, swiss chard, porcini, chestnut, and so much more.  Forget about using "00" flour!  This is the best cookbook I have seen for making pasta from scratch.  Chef Vetri gives easy-to-follow and detailed explanations of how to make fresh handmade pasta for more than thirty different types of pasta.  He also included a lot of useful information like advance preparation, storage notes, and how to make the best sauce.  His recipes are perfect for the home cooks who need flexibility with ingredients and have time limitation as well as the experienced chefs who want to play with the ingredients to create flavorful dishes that are traditional but with a modern twist. 

Both my husband and I are pasta enthusiasts and agreed that unless another life changing book about pasta comes out, we won’t need another pasta book for years to come.  I also love the beautiful photography by Ed Anderson and drool worthy dishes presented throughout Mastering Pasta.  The power of a great cookbook is to inspire, to teach, to transform, and to put us in the mood to cook and Mastering Pasta does exactly that.  This is beyond a pasta masterpiece but a culmination of chef Vetri’s life’s work. 

*I received this book to review complementary of the publisher

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