Simple Goodness from Local Author Cal Peternell

Kristina’s Bookshelf

Almonds, Anchovies, and Pancetta: A Vegetarian Cookbook, Kind Of
by Cal Peternell
(William Morrow, 2018)
Looking for a charming little gift book or ideas for simple meals during the holidays? The latest release by Chez Panisse chef and devoted home cook Cal Peternell has 60 recipes that rely on three ingredients: almonds, anchovies, and pancetta. Anchovies and pancetta (and their close cousins, fish sauce, katsuobushi, dried shrimp, bacon, lardo, and prosciutto) bring salt to enhance flavor. And salt, Peternell explains early on, is what the cookbook is really about. The almonds bring fat and intensify the flavor, texture, and richness of a dish.
Peternell describes the book as “vegetarian, kind of” because the focus is on vegetables with just small bits of meat for flavor. Recipes for main meals, salads, appetizers, and side dishes include Baked, Stuffed Vegetables with Almonds, Currants, Saffron, and Breadcrumbs; Celery and Apple Salad with Pounded Almonds, Anchovies, Parmesan, and Parsley; Carrot and Almond Soup with Saffron and Coriander; Arugula and Fennel Salad with Mint, White Beans, and Crisped Prosciutto; and Penne alla Tuna-nesca. Peternell also includes some of what he calls “private” favorites, like Almond Butter and Cucumber Sandwiches with Shallots with Urfa or Aleppo pepper.
There are no photos of finished dishes, but you’ll find lots of pen and ink drawings of various ingredients scattered throughout, plus lots of personal commentary and anecdotes (like the one about a “… Frankensnack that happened when I was on vacation,” involving a small cheese cracker, basil leaf, anchovy fillet, sambal oelek dab, and a peanut combined to tasty effect).
If you’re looking for a cookbook for a young adult moving out on their own or a friend setting up house, Peternell’s previous offering, Twelve Recipes, written with his college-bound son in mind, was called “the best beginner’s cookbook of the year, if not the decade,” by the New York Times. See our review here: here
Fans of rustic home cooking should also check out Peternell’s recently launched culinary education podcast Cooking by Ear.
Edible East Bay’s book editor Kristina Sepetys is eager to share her ideas and book recommendations with
our readers.