The wisdom of nonnas inspires cookbook author Jessica Theroux's speedy three-course meal.


Jessica Theroux went to Italy for a year hoping to learn about food, life and perfect pasta—and came back with a new perspective on healthy cooking. "The nonnas I met slow down and use all of their senses when they cook and eat," she says. "When you're relaxed, it actually helps you absorb nutrients." Theroux traveled all around the country learning from the matriarchs—an experience she documented in her first book, 2010's acclaimed Cooking with Italian Grandmothers—and she brings this wisdom to her new San Francisco private practice aimed at helping people improve their diets. The menu she shares on these pages focuses on naturally healthy ingredients, like bitter greens and cod, but the flavors are satisfying enough for any nonna.

Jessica Theroux's Healthy Menu

Starter: Mixed-Greens-and-Herb Salad with Figs and Walnuts

"Toss it with your hands," says Jessica Theroux, so you don't bruise the delicate salad leaves.

Main Course: Cod with Fresh Tomato Sauce and Arborio Rice

A garlic-tomato sauce for cod gets Sicilian flavor from orange zest and saffron.

Dessert: Honey-Roasted Apricots with Amaretti Cookies

Roasting apricots turns them into "sticky versions of themselves," says Theroux.

Jessica Theroux: Cooking with Italian Grandmothers


© Jessica Theroux

Liguria (photo)

A wonderfully foul-mouthed nonna named Daria taught Theroux how to prepare pesto lasagna and rosemary-steamed anchovies.

Le Marche

In a tiny town, Theroux learned how to bake tarts and make vegetarian dishes from Usha, a yoga-loving grandmother.


A nonna named Raffaela began baking naturally leavened bread to support herself after her husband died; she shared her secrets with Theroux.


Video: Italian Dishes

More Amazing Italian Recipes:

Healthy Italian Dishes
Arugula Salad with Prosciutto and Oyster Mushrooms
Broken Lasagna with Walnut Pesto