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Mary Ann Esposito adds another course to cookbook feast

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Mary Ann Esposito doesn’t do well with just sitting around. When the creator and host of PBS series “Ciao Italia with Mary Ann Esposito” isn’t cooking, she’s cooking up an episode or book to, well, help Americans cook.

So during the pandemic, when Esposito couldn’t film, she wrote.

“I decided it was time to incorporate into a book many of the recipes and the knowledge that we’ve accumulated over the last 30 years about how to grow Italian vegetables,” she told the Herald. “On the one hand, it’s a cookbook, filled with over 120 recipes devoted to some of Italy’s more popular vegetables. But it’s also a gardening book.”

It’s also a gardening book for people who don’t garden. “Ciao Italia: Plant, Harvest, Cook!,” (Mary Ann Esposito, Inc., $39.95) which is out Nov. 15, reveals loads of tips and tricks that master gardeners and newbies will love. But the book doubles as a guide to eating well by eating in season.

“Even if you don’t have that plot of land, you might want to be part of a community garden in your town, you might want to support your farmer’s market, you might think about doing some container gardening,” Esposito said. “Or you can just go to your grocery store and cook the recipes in the book, just remember to buy in season.”

“You have no idea how I have to hold my tongue when I see people buying creamed corn in August,” she added with a smile in her voice. “I want to say, ‘Excuse me, do you know that corn is in season? Real corn that doesn’t taste anything like what’s in that can?’”

“Ciao Italia: Plant, Harvest, Cook!” is great because it makes gardening easy. And, if a dish seems intimidating, Esposito insists that every one is in reach for the amateur chef – when this writer expressed nerves that his cauliflower pizza crust would be a mush, Esposito reassured me that I could make it look just like the photo.

“All the photos are of recipes made by me, and the styling was done by me, that crust is made of cauliflower and it’s the easiest thing in the world to do,” she said.

The book echoes Esposito’s personality: knowledgeable and encouraging. Even if you’ve never been able to keep a houseplant alive, she can guide you through the growing process. So where to start for people who fear temperamental vegetables?

“The easiest vegetable to grow is radish,” she said. “If you have noticed, over the years, when they give elementary school students something to plant, they give them radish seeds because there is no worrying about if radishes are going to come up.”

But what are you going to do with a bunch of radishes? So glad you asked, Esposito’s latest book has Balsamic-Glazed Roasted Radishes, Grated Radish and Carrot Salad, and more. And if you just want something comforting, there are Roman-Style Artichokes, and Spaghetti with Garlic, Olive Oil, and Walnuts, and Onion, Potato, and Pumpkin Seed Focaccia.

Fans new and old can meet Esposito at events this season.

First, a ticketed dinner at  Davio’s Restaurant (1250 Market St., Lynnfield) Nov. 30 at 6:30 p.m. (https://davios.com/lynnfield/events/mary-ann-esposito-book-dinner-0)

That’s followed up by a book signing 2 p.m. Dec. 3 at I AM Books (124 Salem St., Boston)(https://www.eventbrite.com/e/mary-ann-esposito-ciao-italia-plant-harvest-cook-tickets-431589855877)

To order the book or learn more about Mary Ann Esposito’s Italian adventures, visit ciaoitalia.com.

 

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