Per La Famiglia: Colourful, Hearty, Delicious

I had a new pair of guests in my kitchen this week to test out the latest cookbook byEmily RichardsPer La Famiglia. Emily is a southern Italian cook and blogger who put together a wonderful collection of recipes that she grew up with. Food is always best when it’s made with passion and that is what really stands out with this book. My dad was born in Abruzzo which is kind of central Italy, I guess, but I found a lot of the recipes in this book are ones that my nonna makes all the time. Specifically the Ugly Cookies. And I love that Emily calls them ugly cookies because that is the best way to describe them. I’ve also eaten a ton of Pizzelle in my time and am somewhat of an aficionado when it comes to sauce-making. So basically what I’m getting at is that I was pretty excited to cook from this book!

Above we have Karan and Misha, my lovely guests. Misha does freelance makeup artistry so if you want to get her flawless glow here’s where to go. Karan is on his way to becoming a doctor… sorry, no link for that Misha described her skill level as comfortable in the kitchen while Karan prefaced the evening by telling me he was unskilled and to set low expectations haha. But alas, when a recipe is well-written, anyone can be a great chef for the night. We prepared several dishes from the book, including Pasta with Pesto, Pasta with Fresh Tomato Sauce, Antipasto platter, Tomato and Cucumber salad, and a basic green salad. You may be thinking – these are so basic and easy! Yes they are, but that’s what’s so wonderful about them especially when working with beginners.

Setting the tone
I set the tone for the evening by putting out a very basic antipasto platter of olives and prosciutto. This is standard fare in an Italian house. Usually I would include my dad’s homemade pickled eggplant and green tomatoes but unfortunately I was out of stock. Misha and Karan brought the Chianti, a classic type of Italian wine and one of my favorite varieties. I set the table with richly coloured flowers and bright blue and white accessories, colours that remind me of the Mediterranean. After a glass of wine everyone was ready to start cooking.

The Salad
We started off with the most simple dish, the Tomato and Cucumber Salad. In my opinion the flavors get better as it sits so you can easily prepare it ahead of time. Misha chopped tomatoes and cucumber while Karan cut up the garlic and onions.The veggies were tossed with good olive oil, vinegar, and herbs.

Pasta with Pesto
I was so excited for this dish because 1. I love pesto and 2. I was eager to test how pumpkin seeds would taste in place of pine nuts. The recipe also calls for cheese but we left it out to keep it dairy-free. Misha blended basil, garlic, Super Seedz pumpkin seeds (we all like how they were called Somewhat Spicy, and it was true), olive oil, salt, and pepper. And that was it, the sauce was done! Once the spaghetti was cooked we tossed it all together so each noodle was coated. The seeds add that hint of nutty flavor that the pine nuts would have provided while being allergen-free.


Pasta with Fresh Tomato Sauce
Pasta with tomato sauce is my number 1 favorite thing to eat, hands down. It’s the ultimate comfort food that feels like home to me and so I decided we just had to make one of the sauce recipes from Per La Famiglia. Karan managed this recipe, chopping up the onions, garlic, herbs, and plum (or Roma) tomatoes. He sauteed the garlic, onion, and herbs in some olive oil, salt, and pepper until they became softened and aromatic. Then he added the tomatoes and let simmer, stirring from time to time. We tossed with penne and garnished with a bit more fresh herbs.


The feast

Things we loved
The food tasted delicious and each recipe was so simple to make.
This book oozed passion, from her family photographs to the recipes her nonna used to make. You can tell that she was very invested in it emotionally.
There are so many recipes I want to go back and make now! In particular the homemade gnocchi and a number of the desserts.

You can pick up your copy of the book here