16 October 2021

Weekend Cooking: Peace, Love, and Pasta by Scott Conant

Review of Peace, Love, and Pasta by Scott ConantI've often commented on the fact that restaurant chefs have trouble translating their recipes for the home cook, even for ambitious and skilled home cooks. Scott Conant's Peace, Love, and Pasta is an exception to that statement. Everything I've made from this cookbook has been both easy and successful. Thanks so much for Abrams Books and the Abrams Dinner Party for the review copy.

Because Italian flavors and dishes make up the foundation of Conant's cooking, this cookbook provides recipes for pasta dinners, vegetable risotto, polenta recipes, frittata, and the like. Conant, however, is not one-dimensional, and he's included a variety of other dishes such as salads, clam chowder, braised short ribs, lobster rolls, roasted meats, and good old family favorites like chicken cutlet sandwiches and a pretty killer grilled cheese.

Stepping away from his American and Italian roots, Conant shares a handful of Turkish recipes he learned from his in-laws. I haven't made any of these yet, but I grew up in an area with a large Middle Eastern community and I can't wait to try them.

Review of Peace, Love, and Pasta by Scott ConantI marked a ton of recipes to make, and I suspect Peace, Love, and Pasta will not be leaving my kitchen anytime soon. Conant's melted tomato sauce (recipe to follow) is likely to be one of my go-to sauces in winter, when the only fresh tomatoes that have any flavor are the cherry or grape ones.

Here are just a few of the recipes I marked or have already made (see my scans for some of the finished dishes): spinach soup with chicken meatballs, pasta e fagioli, romaine hearts with Dijon-shallot vinaigrette, pasta pomodoro, maccheroni with polpettine and Neapolitan tomato sauce, escarole and beans, rosemary lentils, cast-iron skillet chicken with fingerling potatoes, stuffed grape leaves, and hazelnut and brown butter cake.

Review of Peace, Love, and Pasta by Scott ConantOne of things I noticed most about Conant's recipes is this: he knows how to create big, unforgettable flavor from surprisingly few ingredients. Here are two examples. The romaine salad is basically lettuce, homemade croutons, pickled red onions, shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano, and a simple vinaigrette. But somehow, those few elements, in the proportions Conant recommends, together make an outstanding salad. Another surprise was the rosemary lentils recipe, which also uses only a few ingredients. Nonetheless, this was one of the hit dishes among the Abram Dinner Party reviewers. I think it's the caramelized shallots that makes all the difference. This dish can be served as a side or can be turned into a soup by adding broth.

Note that some dishes can take quite a bit of time, especially if you start with dried beans or make your own ravioli, for example. On the other hand, you'll have good success even if using canned beans or store-bought fresh pasta. The headnotes for the recipes include tips on ingredients, variations, and suggested substitutions as well as personal stories and memories from Conant.

Recommendations: Scott Conant's Peace, Love, and Pasta is an inspiring cookbook suitable for most home cooks, especially those looking for new ways to make and serve familiar dishes. Vegetarians will find a number of dishes to suit their needs (as is or with minor variations), but vegans should look before buying.

The following recipe was easy to make and amazingly flavorful. In the cookbook, Conant uses it on chicken cutlets and with ravioli. We ate it with tortellini, but I think it'd also be good for meatball or sausage sandwiches and for any other pasta.

Melted Baby Tomato Sauce
Review of Peace, Love, and Pasta by Scott ConantMakes about 3 1/2 cups (840 ml)

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon thinly sliced garlic
  • 1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 4 cups (580 g) mixed cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil leaves
In a saute pan, heat the oil slightly over low heat. Add the garlic slices, oregano, and red pepper flakes and saute for 30 seconds. Before the garlic has taken on any color, add the cherry tomatoes to the pan, turn the heat up to medium-high, season with a pinch of salt, and continue to saute as the tomatoes release their juices. Once the juices and the pectin from the tomatoes have combined with the oil and have started to form a nice sauce (8 to 10 minutes), stir in the basil. Remove from heat and adjust the seasoning with salt. Serve immediately, or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 4 to 5 days, until ready to use.

Note: The recipe is shared in the context of a review; all rights remain with the original copyright holder. The photos are my own.

Shared with Weekend Cooking, hosted by Marg at The Intrepid Reader (and Baker)

7 comments:

Jackie McGuinness 10/16/21, 9:44 AM  

Baby tomato sauce sounds delicious. I have to admit that I am not a huge (gasp) pasta fan much to John's dismay. I reluctantly make it for him. Having to use gluten free doesn't help either.

Tina 10/16/21, 12:42 PM  

I’m a big fan of pasta. Excellent review here and I see a number of recipes I’d love to try!

Melynda@Scratch Made Food! 10/16/21, 12:44 PM  

This book sounds like my kind of cookbook!

gluten Free A_Z Blog 10/16/21, 12:56 PM  

I love Italian food and judging from your review, this book seems exceptional. Love the recipes you shared. Thanks

Vicki 10/16/21, 3:01 PM  

I'm not a big fan of pasta anymore but my daughter and son in law eat it a lot, and I mean A LOT! I may share the recipe with them.

Claudia 10/16/21, 3:17 PM  

I think I'd like to try the Spinach (or maybe lettuce) soup with chicken {I'll use turkey) meatballs. Yea will be looking for his book!

Marg 10/17/21, 5:47 AM  

Love it when you find so much to love in a cookbook that it doesn't make it onto the shelf for a long time.

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