The Vegeterranean - Italian Vegetarian Cooking

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 24 January, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 24 January, 2010, 12:00am

The Vegeterranean - Italian Vegetarian Cooking
By Malu Simoes and Alberto Musacchio

Mediterranean cooking has long used vegetables and grains to round out meals that, depending on a family's circumstances, contain meat or seafood in large or small quantities, or not at all. At the Country House Montali hotel, in Panicale, Italy, Malu Simoes and Alberto Musacchio make vegetarian dishes the sole focus of their restaurant.

Despite its awkward title, The Vegeterranean is a beautiful book, marred by a little too much inform- ation about the romance between the couple - who cares how they met or how stormy their courtship was?

Because meat is often incidental in Mediterranean food, it's not missed in these dishes. This is not austere vegetarian fare that leaves you feeling hungry an hour after eating it: Simoes (the chef) uses eggs, cream, cheese and butter, as well as olive oil. Recipes include crespelle fantasia (pancakes stuffed with eggplant cream and served with cheese sauce); ricotta-stuffed cannelloni with tomato sauce; pasta with four-cheese sauce, sage butter and truffle sauce; ginger and lemon risotto; and pastry stuffed with hearts of palm and olives.