Viana La Place was raised on stories of family gardens told by parents who brought their love of the Mediterranean landscape with them from Italy when they settled in California. Viana herself, after living on and off in Italy for several years, made an Italian garden of her own behind her San Francisco home filled with fragrant jasmine, olive trees, wild arugula, rampant zucchini, and bright-colored lemons. Ever since, like the best Italian cooks, she has delighted in creating meals that require only a few of the freshest ingredients.
In My Italian Garden, La Place brings the earth to the table for readers who want to cook delicious dishes with minimum work and maximum flavor, reminding us that the most satisfying food is the simplest. In 125 uncomplicated recipes, cooks will find four seasons of mouthwatering offerings, perfect for weeknight dinners or entertaining, such as New Fava Bean and Spring Greens Soup, Spaghetti Tossed with Whole Basil Leaves and Lemon Zest, Panini with Grilled Zucchini and Ricotta Salata, Pizza Verde with Artichokes and Herbs, and Meyer Lemon Gelato with Fresh Figs and Pistachios.
Illustrated with charming, evocative watercolors, and filled with lyrical passages, My Italian Garden lets readers experience the magic of the Italian garden without leaving their kitchens.
From the introduction:
Cooking from the garden is uncomplicated cooking. Why add extraneous ingredients to flavorful produce? In fact, you will want to keep preparations pure and simple to enjoy what you've harvested in its pristine state....An Italian garden is really a state of mind. You do not need an elaborate villa to create your Italian garden. The essence of Italy can be captured in pots on a sunny terrace or a shaded balcony. An Italian garden can be herbs growing on a sunny windowsill or the back steps. You can grow your garden on a large parcel of land or on a tiny patch of earth. I hope you will be inspired by my Italian garden to grow one of your own, no matter what the size, and experience the joys of cooking directly from your Italian garden.
--Viana La Place