Marcella Hazan Changed the Way We Cook Italian Food

Mar 16, 2017 341

BY: Jane Lear

Italy’s greatest gift to home cooks everywhere, that’s how I would describe Marcella Hazan. Others might call her the woman who gave America pesto. When she died at the age of 89 in 2013, I paid tribute by cooking -- although perhaps that isn’t the right word for first wading out into a sunny-smelling basil patch and gathering an armload, then making pesto, which Marcella called the most seductive of all sauces for pasta.

You’ll find the recipe in "Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking," a book that belongs in everyone’s culinary library. Published in 1992, it was an updated compilation of Marcella’s earlier "The Classic Italian Cook Book" (1973) and "More Classic Italian Cooking" (1979). Aside from 50 new recipes, additions included a chapter called “Fundamentals,” a treasure trove of information about ingredients and how they respond to different cooking techniques. Odds are, even the most experienced home cooks will learn something about the Italian art of making something transcendent out of simple, even austere, components.

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