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Cucina Povera: The Italian Way of Transforming Humble Ingredients into Unforgettable Meals

April 4, 2023

The Italians call it l’arte dell’arrangiarsi, or the “art of making do with what you’ve got.” This centuries-old approach to ingredients and techniques, known as cucina povera, or peasant cooking, reveals the soul of Italian food at its best. It starts with the humblest components—beans and lentils, inexpensive fish and cuts of meat, vegetables from the garden, rice, pasta, leftovers—and through the ingenuity and resourcefulness of the cook, results in unforgettably delicious and satisfying meals.

In 100 recipes, Cucina Povera celebrates the best of this tradition, from the author’s favorite, pappa al pomodoro (aka leftover bread and tomato soup), to Florentine Beef Stew, Nettle and Ricotta Gnudi, and Sicilian Watermelon Pudding.
Soul satisfying, super healthy, budget-friendly, and easy to make, it’s exactly how so many of us want to eat today.

Cucina povera dishes are immediately recognizable: the use of humble ingredients, seasonal vegetables, and simple cooking techniques, plus a healthy dose of inventiveness. Cooking this way transforms ingredients into hearty meals that are more than the sum of their parts.
– Giulia Scarpaleggia

Pre-order Now or buy it at your local bookstore:

The book will be available everywhere books are sold April 4 but is available for preorder now. See the links below for what to find it near you!
For anyone who preorders, please keep your receipts for a surprise bonus recipes coming your way in January.

Book Reviews:

“Giulia transports the reader through her native Tuscany and beyond with elegantly simple dishes.”
– Katie Parla, author of Food of the Italian Islands

Italian cooks are known for their ability to turn humble ingredients into delicious food. But in the hands (and kitchen) of Tuscan food writer Giulia Scarpaleggia, the art of la cucina povera shines with new allure. Giulia’s deep knowledge of and respect for her native country’s culinary traditions come through in every recipe of this beautifully photographed book.
– Domenica Marchetti, author of Preserving Italy

I rarely open a cookbook and want to make several recipes immediately. But it happened! Here is a creative yet practical book with stunning photos. The produce-forward dishes remind me of Cal-Ital cooking in upscale restaurants, yet the ingredients are humble. It’s a cookbook worth adding to your stack.
– Dianne Jacob, author of Will Write for Food

Cucina Povera invites you into the heart of Italian home cooking with open arms, and reminds you that good food is—and always has been—simple, sustainable, and cheap. Giulia’s writing is as beautiful and warm as the dishes she makes; this book is an essential resource for any Italian-food lover, but it’ll also make you want to run to the kitchen and cook.
– Meryl Feinstein, founder of Pasta Social Club

My love for cooking and the curiosity for traditional family recipes led me to write my first cookbook, Le ricette di mia nonna – My grandma’s recipes, a cookery book in Italian and in English on the food we daily eat at home.
In 2012 Food Editore published my second cookbook, I love Toscana, which has been translated in English, Dutch, Polish, and Taiwanese Mandarin. Two more cookbooks followed I love Toscana: in 2014 Cucina da chef con ingredienti low cost, published with BUR, and in 2015 Cucina naturale: Frutta, published with Gribaudo.
My fifth cookbook, La Cucina dei Mercati in Toscana, was published with Guido Tommasi Editore on February 2017. The English version, From the Markets of Tuscany: A cookbook, followed in 2018.

From the markets of Tuscany: A cookbook

Published 2018

Read my blogpost about the long book journey and discover all the behind the scenes.

Tuscan cooking is made at home, in grocery shops, in the local vegetable gardens and among the stalls of a market. This book is a collection of traditional and seasonal recipes and a guide to the best food markets in Tuscany. You’ll have the chance to explore the most famous and the lesser known areas, from the streets of Florence to those full of charm and mystery of Volterra, from Garfagnana to the wild Lunigiana, from the velvet hills of Val d’Orcia to those covered with vineyards and olive groves in the Chianti area.

You will find the historical markets of San Lorenzo and Sant’Ambrogio in Florence, the weekly markets, so longed for by everyone in small villages and towns, and the organic markets of local producers. There are also the coastal fish markets and the little huts of fruit and vegetables to be found along the road in Maremma.

Order Now or buy it at your local bookstore:

Cucina naturale: Frutta

Published 2016

This book is part of a collection of cookbooks dedicated to a natural to the everyday cuisine.

You’ll learn about biodiversity and seasonality, the differences between sour and sweet fruit, fresh or dried. There are also many recipes divided into sweet and savoury preparations: porridge, salads, roasts, snacks, soups, and cakes.

This cookbook is out-of-print.

Cucina da chef con ingredienti low cost – compra con la testa, cucina con il cuore

Published 2014

The title can be roughly translated into “Cook as a chef with low cost ingredients”. The main theme of the book is the peasant thrift cooking, the recipes of the families who would put on the table a feast from a few ingredients, the dishes of osterias and country inns. It is a cuisine that is never boring, but creative, vital, innovative and traditional at the same time, a style od cooking which has time and organization as main ingredients.
Ultimately it is what I’ve learned with many years of blogging. Appreciate and celebrate the season, buy local food, talk wiht the producers.

Order Now or buy it at your local bookstore:

I Love Toscana – colours, taste and flavours

Published 2012

I Love Toscana is available in Italian, English, Dutch, Polish and Taiwanese Mandarin.

In this book there is all my family and my love for Tuscany and its products.
There are our family recipes, those of my grandmother with which I grew up, the recipes that mum taught me step by step on our Sunday mornings, those of my great-grandmother, of Aunt Teresa and Aunt Silvana, of Gelsomino and of other relatives and friends.
There is my land, to which I feel to be tied and bound, in which I had the good luck to grow up, that I rediscovered over the years through my blog and the cooking classes. Tuscany is a varied mix of recipes, distinct areas and peculiar characters, herbs, respect for the seasonality of products and cult of the stale bread. There is the Tuscany I love, and I hope that through these recipes and these stories you can fall in love a little bit, too.

This cookbook is out-of-print. To celebrate this book, Tommaso and I decided to share trough our newsletter some of the recipes belonging to I love Toscana. So, if you are a Letters from Tuscany subscriber, once a week you’ll get a new recipe, part of a serialized Tuscan cookbook over the course of one year, a collection of tested classic Tuscan recipes to add to your cooking repertoire.

Le ricette di mia nonna – My grandma’s recipes

Published 2011

With more than 80 recipes, in Italian and in English, divided by season, here you can find the classic recipes of the Tuscan culinary tradition, from tripe to pappa al pomodoro, from fresh pasta to pot roasted rabbit, plus a few dishes born from the desire to play with new ingredients and flavours.

This cookbook is out-of-print.

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