All you need to know about The Vegetarian Silver Spoon
Make and enjoy the best meat-free recipes from the world’s most authoritative Italian cookbook
From pasta carbonara through to risotto thickened with beef broth, Italian cuisine might appear to run on meat, yet appearances are deceptive. According to some estimates, Italy has one of the highest proportion of vegetarians in Europe, and, in this Mediterranean nation, veneration for vegetables runs deep. In 1999, the famed Italian writer Umberto Eco even argued in The New York Times Magazine that the millennium's best invention was not penicillin, the stern-mounted rudder or the computer, but the wide-cultivation of beans, peas and lentils.
So, cutting out meat doesn’t mean you have to miss out on some of the best dishes within this hugely popular national cuisine, as our new book The Vegetarian Silver Spoon, makes abundantly clear. This, the latest title in Phaidon’s Silver Spoon library, still draws its 200 plus recipes from the original Silver Spoon – first published in Milan in 1950, and still regarded as the canonical text when it comes to Italian cookery.
“Italian cuisine has a rich tradition of vegetable dishes, notably primi and contorni, the salads, soups, and side dishes of a classic Italian meal,” explains this new book’s introduction. “There is also the beloved cucina povera, a rustic style of cooking that celebrates resourcefulness, and ingredients that are repurposed or already in the home kitchen.
“While a celebratory meal might focus on meat for the main course, the Italian diet has never centered on meat. Italian home-style cooking more often revolves around substantial vegetarian dishes like gratins or stews.”
The Vegetarian Silver Spoon features all these styles of dishes, as well as some key regional variations. As the book explains, “in northeast Italy, there are canederli (bread dumplings) or polenta, rather than pasta, while in the southwest you’ll find potatoes and peppers are considered the most central items on any table.”
Get this new title, and you can enjoy satisfying dishes such as pasta with cauliflower and pine nuts, or rice timbale with zucchini and peppers, as well as more unusual inclusions, such as vegetable stir-fry or beet torte, and sugary options, including banana and pistachio muffins and cashew-milk cheesecake.
The dishes are meticulously indexed, allowing readers to pick out recipes via dietary options – vegan, dairy free, or gluten free – and in order of their natural place in a well-balanced menu – snacks & small plates, soups & stews, and so on, through to sweets & desserts.
The brilliant new images come courtesy of the chef turned photographer Simon Bajada; the layout is by the acclaimed international design agency, Pentagram; this new edition is edited by our Italian-born publisher, Emilia Terragni; and the book is even printed in Italy. You have to admit, that’s a tempting combination, whether you’re a committed vegetarian, a meat reducer, or just someone who appreciates the deeply rooted place of vegetables within Italian cuisine. Order your copy of The Vegetarian Silver Spoon here.