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Sharing Gifts of Food for Christmas, by the Book : 1988's Holiday Volumes Address Topics From Cookies to Environmental Toxins

December 22, 1988|ROSE DOSTI

Pasta Fresca by Viana La Place & Evan Kleiman (William Morrow: $19.95, 270 pp., illustrated)

The "Cucina Fresca" team is back again with a book on pasta that this time focuses on recipes that most noncooks can probably cook.

The book is actually a primer on pasta, starting with a guide to shopping and stocking the pantry, then going on to the categories of foods that include pasta in one form or another: Pasta in soups, pasta with raw sauces, pasta dishes from the dairy and yogurt shelf, pasta with vegetables, pasta with seafood or meat, stuffed pasta and gnocchi, which, one forgets, is also a pasta or paste, whether made with flour or potatoes and flour.

So if your appetite gravitates toward pasta with meat, you'll find a pasta made with lamb sauce, sausages and sardines (interesting combo), and rigatoni with pancetta (Italian bacon) and cranberry beans, called borlotti , which come in cans. You can use pinto beans as well, the authors claim.

If vegetarian pasta is your preference, there are nice, often unique, recipes using Japanese eggplant, broccoli rape (the bitter greens you see in gourmet markets these days), green beans, yellow peppers and mint, zucchini with basil, arugula, Belgian endive and others.

You'll want to become acquainted with the gnocchi chapter if you're a gnocchi lover. You'll find a recipe for gnocchi with carrot and amaretti cookies for flavor, which we found rather interesting.

Kleiman, who has made a name for herself in the restaurant field with two flourishing restaurants that have captured the imagination of Los Angeles diners, has transfered her innovative touch to the book. You can't help but applaud the efforts of the co-authors. The recipes hit home.

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