In her four-decade career as a cook, author, and teacher, Marcella Hazan introduced millions of Americans to the soulful pleasures of Italian home cooking. She passed away on September 29, 2013, at the age of 89, but her spirit—and her lessons—lives on in her cookbooks, authoritative guides to Italian cuisine. Read Guiliano Hazan's memories of his mother from the 2014 SAVEUR 100 issue »
Part encyclopedia, part regional cookbook, Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking (Knopf, 1992)—an updated single volume containing Hazan’s first two cookbooks, The Classic Italian Cook Book and More Classic Italian Cooking—is an indispensable introduction to the principles of Italian cooking, with a guide to Italian ingredients and essential recipes such as Hazan’s minimalist but exquisite tomato sauce, simmered with onion and butter. We love Marcella’s Italian Kitchen (Knopf, 1986) for its multitude of regional pasta dishes, from cannelloni with asparagus and ham to rigatoni baked with tiny meatballs. The more personal Marcella Cucina (William Morrow, 1997), inspired by Hazan’s travels, meals at the homes of friends, and the conversations struck up with shoppers at markets, celebrates everyday recipes for dishes like baked eggplant with peppers, tomato, and mozzarella, and a simple, flavor-packed pasta sauce made with peas, ham, and cream. Hazan’s final cookbook, Marcella says… (William Morrow, 2004), marks the culmination of her career as both cook and teacher. It’s friendly and instructional, with recipes for zucchini frittata and Calabrian-style lamb chops with tomatoes, peppers, and olives interspersed with Hazan’s intimate remembrances. As we toast bread for crostini, it almost feels like she’s with us in the kitchen.