Cucina povera, Italian peasant cooking, is the art of making do with what you’ve got. This centuries-old cooking style transforms humble ingredients and leftovers into hearty, satisfying meals. Cucina Povera will be the definitive cookbook on the subject and feature recipes from all regions of Italy. Readers will learn how modern this traditional way of cooking can be: the economical approach means that many of the dishes are vegetarian, gluten-free, and dairy-free; all of the dishes follow a waste-not approach. The key ingredients—from beans and cheese to polenta and potatoes—are available no matter where you are.
Author Giulia Scarpaleggia is a Tuscan home cook, food writer, and cooking instructor. To her, cucina povera is not just a unique approach to cooking and ingredients but also a way of life based on the ingenuity and resourcefulness of the women who came before her. Whether it’s a tomato and bread salad or a frittata, the main principle of cucina povera prevails: transform humble ingredients into dishes that are more than the sum of their parts. The book is structured into chapters reflecting the key themes of cucina povera: Cook from the garden with Minestrone Soup or Green Bean and Potato Casserole; eat plant-based proteins for filling, economical meals, including Fried Chickpea Polenta and Lentil and Rice Soup; make preserves to enjoy Tomato Sauce and Pickled Vegetables all year long. Cooking with a waste-not approach means that leftovers become a key ingredient to make new comforting dishes the next day. Days-old bread, leftover pasta and rice, and boiled meats are transformed into tasty bites like fried arancini, a pasta omelet, and meatballs. The make-do approach applies to desserts as well: Bread Pudding Cake and a Jam Crostata are made using whatever ingredients are on hand.