Sheela Prakash’s Mediterranean Every Day is a well done cookbook with intriguing recipes, pretty pictures, and a reasonable pantry list. I don’t know if it’s a classic yet, but I would recommend it for the moderately adept home cook. I received an advance reader copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
I am predisposed to like this cookbook, because I am comfortable with Mediterranean cuisine. I was able to cook three dishes without going to the store because I had the ingredients on hand already. I appreciate that in a cookbook, but I also recognize that my pantry is not universal.
The Mediterranean basin is large and encompasses many cultures and styles of cooking. Prakash includes recipes from all over, but doesn’t delve deeply into any region or culture. She keeps the focus on the flexibility and casualness of the cuisine. I particularly appreciated that she encourages readers to think of pesto as an equation rather than a recipe and then she provides the equation with some suggested variations. She also offers some foods that are “blank canvases” with season variations. She really encourages readers to experiment and adapt.
I made the smokey white bean hummus, the bucatini aglio e olio with wilted arugula, and the chocolate olive oil cake. There are more exciting recipes in the book, but these are the recipes I could make with what I had on hand. Also, it’s hovering around the 100 degree mark every day and I’m not up to standing over a hot stove for a long period or turning the oven up to a high heat. This is not a vegetarian cookbook, though there are many vegetarian recipes. At this point in the summer I am less inclined to eat meat.
The white bean hummus worked just fine (halved) in my mini processor. I had a tasty dip in my refrigerator which was great on toast and on cucumber slices. I would make it again.
Bucatini is my favorite long pasta – thick, chewy, and bouncy. This recipe calls for 6 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced. It really helped that I have a mandolin and I’m not afraid to use it. The resulting dish was great for a summer night and made an excellent next day cold breakfast. I like arugula, but if you need a milder green, spinach will work as well.
The chocolate olive oil cake was a hit. I was surprised at how quickly it came together. I started making it at 6:30 and it was out of the oven by 7:30. The cake was light and chocolaty with bright notes from the fruity olive oil.
When the weather gets cooler and roasting is more appealing, I want to try the lemony chicken thighs with blistered olives and the shredded brussels sprout and faro bake.