When you hear the word "visionary," Irma Rombauer is probably not the first person to come to mind. But when Rombauer touted pasta as a "nutritious, inexpensive, and quick meal" in the original Joy of Cooking more than 60 years ago, little did she know what an intrinsic part of America's family menus it would become. This beautiful volume is a welcome reminder that with a little TLC, pasta for dinner can mean so much more than spaghetti and red sauce from a jar. The recipes are adapted from the latest Joy, but enhanced until they're almost unrecognizable, with gorgeous color photographs, tips and beautifully illustrated techniques, and a comprehensive introduction that covers everything from cooking pasta and choosing Italian cheeses to 27 different pasta shapes and the sauces to serve with them.
If you have the time to make it, the chapter on fresh pasta begins with a clear, well-written recipe for Fresh Egg Pasta and then offers variations such as Whole Wheat Pasta and Spinach Pasta. A lesson on rolling, cutting, and shaping follows. Novice cooks need not worry, as more tutorials pepper the pages, such as How to Peel, Seed, and Juice Tomatoes, How to Roast and Peel Peppers, and How to Make Tortellini and Cappelletti. There are also well-explained tips throughout the book, explanations of ingredients--such as capers, Italian and Greek olives, and prosciutto--and minilessons on subjects such as freezing filled pasta.
But what really sets this book apart are the myriad recipes for quick, nutritious, inexpensive, delicious meals. All our old favorites are included, such as Classic Italian American Lasagne, Tuna Noodle Casserole, and Bolognese Sauce, as are more adventurous dishes like Pastitsio, Roasted Red Pepper and Herb Goat Cheese Lasagna, and Penne with Vodka. A chapter on Asian noodles includes a little taste of everything, with recipes like Shrimp Pad Thai and Spicy Szechuan Noodles. But it wouldn't be Joy of Cooking without homey dishes like dumplings, so the last chapter covers them as well as variations on spaetzle and potato gnocchi. As always, it's the clear, easy-to-follow recipes that make Joy such a joy to use, and such a valuable addition to anyone's kitchen. --Leora Y. Bloom