A Vegetarian, Italian Dream

Believing in the value of home cooking, Veronica Lavenia has created The Vegetarian Italian Kitchen - an inviting cookbook to keep handy on the kitchen shelf. Sharing her culture and knowledge of simple and stunning, Veronica knows and understands the raw ingredients first-hand, having grown up in Italy surrounded by the vibrancy of Sicily’s flourishing culture and cuisine.

A Vegetarian, Italian Dream

From a young age, Veronica learned to cook in a conscious way, remaining aware of produce seasonality, origin and the history that comes with traditional Italian dishes. Rather than always cooking for need as a means to an end, The Vegetarian Italian Kitchen is a sharing of recipes designed for want, to provide a hearty dish that not only will be nutritious and filling, but also a delightful and flavoursome journey both for the at-home cook in the comfort of a well-worn kitchen, and for those waiting patiently, legs swinging perched on the kitchen bench seeking to taste test the final results.

Following a passion for Italian cuisine, inspired by vibrant colours and the aromas of traditional family dishes, Veronica helps readers get back to basics and begin with nourishing combinations that please tastes and satisfy appetites. For a touch of decadence, whether nibbling on this while sipping a thick Italian hot chocolate, throwing back a strong espresso on a morning tea break or serving it to dinner guests at the end of a feast, create a tempting log of Chocolate Salami, sure to have your friends and family asking for a cheeky second serve. Do your best to get your hands around a bottle of Marsala dessert Sicilian wine – it will make this recipe extra special, and the chocolate salami may become a signature dish for you to be known by among your inner-circle.

A Vegetarian, Italian Dream

Asparagus and zucchini cake, p. 156.

It is apparent the seasons have taken a turn for warmer weather when asparagus starts to appear back on the shelves. Pick up a bunch or two with some plump zucchinis, a duo of eggs and source some Parmigiano from your local gourmet delicatessen to put together this scrumptious Asparagus and Zucchini Cake. The perfect midday meal with a small side salad, and enjoyable both hot and cold, this versatile dish can be transported to school, to the office or even on Sunday picnics at the local park. Everyone from the kids to the grandparents will love the smooth transition of flavours from bite to bite and you’ll love creating this fool proof healthy meal.

Obtained from the pulp of coconut flesh, coconut flour is a great way to lower gluten intake, so feel guilt-free when snacking on these tasty little Coconut Cakes and sharing them with friends. A great summery treat, these cute cakes can be made into party treats with a bit of decoration, or left simple and rustic with just a sprinkling of flakes on top. Bake until an alluring golden brown hue and pack a few extra into the kids’ lunchboxes to divide among lucky school friends.

Encapsulating the enthusiasm of an Italian lifestyle, The Vegetarian Italian Kitchen is an easy and convenient guide to keep nearby, whether flipping through day-by-day or using as inspiration for a week’s cooking ahead. Find something the whole family can enjoy, or create a sneaky treat to hide up and away from arm’s reach - the choice is yours with this delightful collection.

By Annabel Rainsford.

Recipes and images from the Vegetarian Italian Kitchen by Veronica Lavenia, published by New Holland Publishers Australia, RRP $40.00.