Some cookbook authors have earned my complete trust, and Amy Chaplin is one of them. I've never made anything I didn't love from her stunning first book, 2014's "At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen," and have recommended it countless times.
So I knew that when the Australian teacher, consultant and personal chef came out with another book, history would surely repeat itself.
Chaplin's latest, "Whole Food Cooking Every Day," starts with the same philosophy as her first — that cooking with ingredients as close to their natural state as possible can be inspiring and nourishing. But this time, she sets out to make the prospect even more accessible, using base recipes for pastas, soups, nut butters, sauces, beans, muffins and more, and then expanding each with variations.
I plan to cook my way through the book, and I started with a base recipe for pine-nut pasta sauce that coated a bowl of whole-wheat spaghetti so beautifully it almost didn't become one of the variations. The chunky purée of toasted pine nuts, olive oil, lemon and salt created the cheesiest nondairy sauce I think I've ever tasted. I immediately added this technique — with pine nuts, or another nut — to my repertoire. (A similar thing happened with her first book, when I tried her way with tempeh, an ingredient I had not yet mastered, and now I rarely make it any other way.)
As instructed by Chaplin, I then tossed the pasta with raw tomatoes I had marinated in more olive oil, balsamic vinegar, basil and garlic and, well, another star was born. Suffice it to say that when my colleagues and I tasted it, we were floored.
In the winter, I'll make another variation, with lemon, red chile pepper and parsley; come spring, there's a bowl of green-pea pasta with pea shoots to be had. If either of them tastes half as good as this summery tomato dish — and I know they will — I'll be so happy.