Pasta by Theo Randall – Book review

09 July 2010 by
Pasta by Theo Randall – Book review

Pasta, by Theo RandallEbury, £18.99ISBN 978-0-0919-2900-8

The quiet man of the London restaurant scene, Theo Randall has gone about building a legion of fans for his simple, seasonal Italian cooking since opening at London's InterContinental hotel four years ago. And it's that unpretentious cuisine, honed under the watchful eyes of Ruth Rogers and Rose Gray at the River Café, that forms the backbone of his first cookbook.

Sporting 110 recipes, Pasta is - as you might guess - a miniature encyclopaedia of fusilli, spaghetti, gnocchi and friends. Dishes exist in almost every price point, from low-cost menu options such as linguine with sardines and spaghetti with anchovies, chilli and garlic, through to top-dollar luxuriated dishes - think ravioli with potato and white truffle.

The simple guide to making pasta and pithy, uncomplicated recipes includes easily digestible instructions with no hint of over-complicated culinary wizardry. Beginners will take heart in Randall's step-by-step guide to mixing, proving, rolling and cutting pasta, while the more experienced chef can take much from the huge variety of dishes on show.

While the majority of the book hums with the sunshine cooking of southern Italy, making it more helpful for the summer months, there are nonetheless options for every season. Winter's sparse crop gets a makeover courtesy of the likes of parpardelle with cavolo nero and new season's olive oil, and gnocchi with butternut squash, pancetta, thyme and mascarpone, while autumn's mushroom harvest also gets the pasta treatment with simple but superb dishes such as tagliatelle with girolles.

The book's core strength lies in Randall's position as an Englishman specialising in regional Italian cooking. The provenance of certain dishes is explained, but never does the chef get bogged down in the culinary politics of regional Italy, making the book a much more accessible guide to pick up and put down, rather than a slog through, say, Piedmontese or Tuscan tradition.

A more in-depth understanding of Italy and its divergent culinary styles might be found elsewhere, but you'll struggle to find a pasta cookbook as accessible and packed full of flavour as this one." target="_blank" rel="noreferrer">View the recipe for pappardelle with crab, fennel and tomatoes, from Pasta >>

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