Almonds, Anchovies, and Pancetta: A Vegetarian Cookbook, Kind Of
By Cal Peternell
William Morrow Cookbooks; hardcover, $25.99; eBook, $20.99; available Tuesday, September 25
Cal Peternell's cooking is very traditional, drawing on how people have eaten for generations, using vegetables as the center of the plate, seasoned with a little bit of meat or fish to create a delicious and satisfying meal.
The revered chef's method is all about emphasizing the flavor of food, but it's so much more. Taking savory little bites of vegetables is much more satisfying than big meaty mouthfuls. it allows us to savor steak, roasted chicken, or fried fish fillet when we indulge. It is healthy sustainable, and economical.
In Almonds, Anchovies, and Pancetta, Peternell centers on three distinctive flavors that boost any dish, allowing even the most discriminating palates to enjoy healthy, nutritious meals that taste amazing. Cal includes 60 recipes for main meals, including pastas, salads, and appetizers, as well as "side" dishes that can be featured alongside fish or meat, or put together with others to make a meal, including:
- Snap peas almondine
- Baked, stuffed vegetables with almonds, currants, saffron, and breadcrumbs
- Steamed clams with almond and parsley butter
- Almond butter Cookies with chocolate chunks
- Roasted sweet pepper and egg salad with anchovies, olives, and capers
- Artichokes and new onions baked with anchovies and breadcrumbs
- Penne and Tuna-nesca
- Grilled, Anchoiade-soaked Bread with egg and herbs
- Bacon-wrapped potato gratin
- Salsa rustica with egg and pancetta
- Arugula and fennel salad with mint, white beans, and crisped prosciutto
- Creamy white beans with pancetta and rosemary
On why these three ingredients -almonds, anchovies, and pancetta - are so good at adding depth of flavor, Peternell says, "Salt, of course, is at the heart of the reason why, at least for anchovies and pancetta. But it's more than that. Anchovies and pancetta (and their kin: fish sauce, katsuobushi, dried shrimp and bacon, lardo, prosciutto) bring not just salt but a concentration of time - the time it took to salt or smoke or ferment them is revealed through flavor. Almonds too bring a sweet and toasty depth of flavor and, because they are not as salty as their animal mates, can be deployed with less restraint."
Peternell has said that nuts are the meat of the plant world, and he says of choosing almonds for these recipes, "Nuts deliver fat content that is comparable to bacon and pancetta, and though I love cooking with hazelnuts and walnuts too, I chose almonds for this book because they seem most versatile to me (also, they are shaped like our own eyes - perhaps why they figure so tastily in much mythology). Almonds act as a thickener when ground very finely, add crunch when roughly chopped, provide rustic heft when crushed for adding to cooked greens, and delicacy sliced and buttered with snap peas or green beans."
Peternell is also the author of the New York Times bestseller Twelve Recipes, which won an IACP Award; and A Recipe for Cooking.