Benvenuto in Liguria! Laurel Evans is releasing her fifth cookbook, Liguria, The Cookbook: Recipes from the Italian Riviera, on Sept. 21 about the Northwestern region of Italy. This cookbook is packed with delicious recipes which will definitely have the approval of your Italian nonnas. Her cookbook consists of 76 amazing recipes.

This region tends to be overlooked in American cooking, but holds a big spot in Evans’ heart. According to Evans, her husband’s family lived in this region for many generations back, and she got inspired to make this cookbook for their family recipes. Now, she’s sharing this style of cooking to Americans back home. This book is filled with drool-worthy recipes — the region’s fresh pesto, spongy focaccia, and salty anchovies are definitely worth incorporating into your meal plan.

Liguria has great bites for college kids. Evans said in an interview with Spoon University, “A lot of the recipes in Ligurian cuisine are inherently budget-friendly.” I asked Evans where college students should shop, and she recommended checking out local farmers markets. She also advises her readers to build a relationship with the local butcher to, “talk about where the meat comes from, how the animal was fed, what kind of meat is best for which preparation technique, because they know better than anybody what to give you.”

Recipe Recs

After previewing the e-book, I couldn’t resist trying a few recipes! The recipe that Evans recommends the most, however, is her pesto recipes. She created two pesto recipes for her book, which are different by method. One is the traditional and nonna-approved pesto made with a mortar and pestle. Although this recipe requires more bicep strength, the fragrant pesto sauce that results from it is unbeatable compared to any other pesto you may have had. Evans does also keep convenience in mind with her food processor pesto recipe, filled with great tips to keep blackened basil leaves at bay.

A great companion to her pesto recipe is none other than the Ligurian Focaccia recipe. The focaccia might be one of the best tasting breads I have ever eaten! Although it took a lot of labor and love to prepare, I honestly dreamt about this bread for a few days after it was devoured by friends and family. The outside has an amazing salty crisp, which contrasts perfectly with the warm and pillow-like inside. Bread-making has become a new quarantine hobby, and I’d recommend this recipe to anyone that has some time on their hands. This TikTok, shows how much time the focaccia process takes, but the results are well worth it!

Pack Your Bags

While Evans has a lot of great advice on making Ligurian cuisine, the Texan-born’s best advice for Spoon readers is to take any opportunity to travel. “If [you] have an opportunity to go abroad, do it,” Evans said.” It changed my life. It changed how I see America, how I recognize my privilege as an American, and how that has shaped my worldview, how many things I took for granted, how many assumptions and prejudices I have against other countries.”

If you need a little nudge to see the region of Liguria, I would recommend trying the Ligurian focaccia recipe. Just one bite, and you will be booking a flight to Italy in no time!

Liguria, The Cookbook: Recipes from the Italian Riviera will be available everywhere books are sold, starting Sept. 21.