Award-winning Italian cookbook by Giulia Scarpaleggia
About Giulia Scarpaleggia and her cookbook photographer husband, Tommaso Galli
Giulia and Tommaso are partners in what's become their multi-faceted family business, Jul's Kitchen. Giulia is a Tuscan born and bred home cook, food writer, podcaster ("Cooking with an Italian Accent"), cooking school instructor, and author of six cookbooks including her latest masterpiece, Cucina Povera.
A lot of Cucina Povera's charm and fascination is tied into the photography that accompanies the recipes. Husband Tommaso Galli has grown along with Giulia over the years to become a first class food photographer, with an uncanny ability to capture light and use it to its best advantage to feature the recipes in the book.
Tommaso used a Canon 60 for all the photography in this book although he's now moved on to a Fuji camera. Most of the photographs are taken at the same table in the kitchen where Giulia creates her delicious recipes. She shares that these are not staged recipes, but instead real recipes that she and Tommaso create together and then sit down to enjoy for their meal.
About Cucina Povera
The book took three years to write from Giulia's very first contact with the publisher in May 2020 until publication.
This isn't the only cookbook with the title Cucina Povera, but Giulia points out that this title reflects a concept and way of cooking similar to terms like slow food or soul food. Cucina Povera (full title Cucina Povera: The Italian Way of Transforming Humble Ingredients into Unforgettable Meals) reflects a concept of no waste and using leftovers to recycle food into other delicious, yet simple and creative dishes. The concept is to eat everything, waste nothing, and spend less.
The market where Giulia does her shopping has shared that the best bargains are to be had at the end of market day when you can shop at very affordable prices from the food that's left over at the end of the day.
One of Giulia's favorite Tuscan staples is stale bread. She clarifies that it's not croutons, but actual stale bread that Giulia has learned to set aside for recipes. Giulia grew up around her grandmother who kept a cloth bag in the kitchen where she would store stale bread.
Here's what's being said about Cucina Povera:
“As a home cook that likes to stretch every ingredient as far as possible, Giulia Scarpaleggia’s Cucina Povera has become a favorite in my household.” – Food & Wine - The Best Spring Cookbooks for 2023
“Ms. Scarpaleggia’s “waste-not” approach and pristine recipes lead to dynamite Italian flavors.” – Wall Street Journal - Spring 2023 - 5 Best Cookbooks
Panzanella, a Tuscan bread salad
Her grandmother's stale bread was used to create recipes including one of Giulia's favorite recipes, Panzanella – a tomato and bread salad. The classic ingredients for this salad are stale bread along with tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, and basil, but Giulia emphasizes that Panzanella salad should be created to match family tastes, and lifestyle.
The sky's the limit as to what you might include. Tunafish, other fresh veggies or whatever else might strike your fancy.
Roasted Red Pepper Rolls
Giulia's other favorite recipe in her book is Roasted Red Pepper Rolls and I heartily agree that these are delicious!
The first step is to roast and blacken the red peppers, then gently peel off the skin. This step renders the peppers more digestible.
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Putting food by: summer garden veggies for winter minestrone soup
Giulia also shares some of her tricks and tips in the book and my favorite is the Ziploc bags she prepares all summer long for winter minestrone soup. It's a fantastic way to use up all the vegetables in your summer garden: zucchini, spring peas, and for extra-special flavor a basil leaf or two in each Ziploc bag.
Are you intrigued by Tuscany and want to dig deeper?
Spannocchia - a 13th century sustainable Tuscan estate
Farm to Table Home-style pig butchering in Northern Tuscany
Best of Florence Day Trip - Top 12 things to do
Montalcino and Brunello Wine
Day Trip to Cortona in the Tuscan province of Arezzo
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