Nonna’s Italian Kitchen: Delicious Home-Style Vegan Cuisine by Bryanna Clark Grogan
When people come to me searching for cheese alternative recipes, I often point them to the Uncheese Cookbook, but now that this cookbook has come onto my radar, I may just sway my message. Bryanna tackles Italian, a traditionally cream and cheese-rich culture, with as much authenticity as possible. Since Italian is a big part of Bryanna’s heritage, as she details in this cookbook, she seems to handle each recipe with care and very detailed explanations for those of us who may not be intimately familiar with the makings of each dish.
Those who are vegan or simply egg-free will love her guide and recipes for making fresh pasta (yes, I said fresh egg-free pasta!); those who crave the rich flavors of cheese will delight in the alternative recipes for mascarpone, Parmesan, and ricotta (Bryanna typically provides soy-free, nut-free, and at times gluten-free options for staple recipes such as these); and those like myself will be drawn in by the many comfort food recipes. The countless recipes for cream sauces, risottos, potato dumplings, stuffed pastas, rich casseroles, pastry crèmes (5 recipes for different pastry crèmes alone), and tarts are enough to make me want to hibernate in my kitchen for the winter!
Beyond dairy alternative, vegans will also like the many traditionally meat-filled Italian dishes that Bryanna takes on. Though my family is still omnivorous, I must admit that veal cutlets and Italian meatballs are no match for her animal-free creativity.
Of note, Bryanna writes very detailed instructions, often with many alternative options. This can be a very good thing, but, like many traditional Italian recipes, some of the recipes can be involved, best for a leisurely Sunday afternoon. This by no means covers all of the recipes though. Most of the sauces can be whipped up in minutes, and there is a plethora of pasta, hearty soup, and vegetable dishes that could actually be considered quick and easy. Among these, I was particularly taken by the creamy Bechamel sauce and the Pasta with Spicy Eggplant. Plus many of the recipes, like the potato dumplings (I am dying to try the pumpkin version!) become quite quick to make once you get the hang of it.
If I were to suggest any change for this cookbook, it would be simply be a minor layout issue. Though not a deal breaker by any means, I often mess up recipes when they are in a “run on” format. That is, one recipe may start in the middle of a page, run on to the next page, and immediately be followed by the next recipe, and so on. It could just be my poor eyesight, but I find myself accidentally reading from the wrong recipe when they are in this free flowing format. However, I must give kudos for the well-sized print and the notes for calories, fat, and carbohydrates on each recipe, which many people may find useful.
And just in case you were wondering, of course there are recipes for pizza, calzones, and tiramisu!