Cold Pasta by James McNair

Cold Pasta by James McNair

Cold Pasta a Hot, Classic Cookbook

Review By: Gillian Kendall
Some cookbooks I love for their photographs, or their layout, or the clever personal notes or inspiring introductions, all of which make me want to create wonderful meals. But I love the tiny paperback book Cold Pasta by James McNair for a different reason: great recipes.

Since acquiring a used copy of the 1989 edition many years ago, I’ve made about 9 of the 30+ recipes, and some I’ve made dozens of times. When cooking for meat-eaters, I rely on the Poached Chicken Breast with Thai Peanut Sauce and Noodles, which I present as it is in the photo, with a ring of sliced snow peas surrounding a bed of pasta, topped by meat and peanut sauce and cilantro. Varying the recipes for vegetarian tastes is easy, too: I just use tofu or tempeh cutlets and increase the spices in the pasta and sauces.
The Cold Pasta by James McNair paperback book is designed to lay flat on a counter top while the cook works, which is handy. It’s so handy, in fact, that mine has quite a bit of cooking evidence in it. Many pages are slightly stained with ingredients and marked with my handwriting. My comments suggest a little less oil here, a bit more ginger there, but mostly they say things like “Great!” and “Fantastic, make it again!”

Since every recipe is accompanied by a full-size photo, it’s easy to see which recipes I want to make, and then I copy the presentation, usually to great acclaim from my (easily pleased) friends and family. I like these photos because they’re clear and they show the whole dish, not just a close-up bite or a few leftover scraps on a plate like so many modern cookbooks.
Of the whole book, the part I’ve turned to most often is the clear, precise, and yet personal instructions for cooking pasta that is to be used cold. Nowhere else have I seen such instructions, and I’m very proud of having mastered the technique so that my own pasta dishes have exactly the right degree of al dente-ness without being too chewy.

What Others Think of Cold Pasta

In looking up this Cold Pasta by James McNair book online, I was delighted to learn that James McNair has written many more cookbooks, and that this one is still in print and in several editions. Here are a couple more reviews from other fans, who gave this book an average of five stars:

5.0 out of 5 stars Great book and even better price, April 14, 2009
By Joseph A. Graziose “Metalhead” (Northern California)
This review is from: James McNair’s Cold Pasta (Paperback)
Would gladly buy it again, wonderful book on cold pasta. Well written and organized, exactly wanted I wanted in a cold pasta book

5.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive and thorough. September 21, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: James McNair’s Cold Pasta (Paperback)
This is the collection I’ve been seeking out for a long time. No other book I’ve found offers such a plethora of exquisite, interesting recipes for those of us who enjoy cold pasta. If you’re looking for “general” pasta dishes, don’t get this one; it’s very specific!

You can see more reviews of Cold Pasta:

For more reviews from pasta lovers like you and me click on this link to Cold Pasta by James McNair.

Where to Purchase Cold Pasta by James McNair

Summer’s coming as I write this, but down here in Florida, every day is warm enough for cold pasta. Wherever you live and whatever time of year, I would recommend Cold Pasta by James McNair for yourself and your friends, and I’d suggest getting a few copies – one to share – so you can take advantage of Amazon’s free shipping.

I’m so glad I’ve re-acquainted myself with this terrific book. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to boil some water for Buckwheat Noodles with Asparagus in Sesame Dressing. I’ve made this recipe so often I hardly need to use the cookbook anymore, but I might want to make another note: “A classic!”

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About Gillian Kendall

20+ years of professional commercial, academic and technical writing. With a Ph.D (Ohio University) and two MAs (Stanford and U.C. Davis) I'm a former Chair in Writing at Birmingham-Southern College and Cisco technical writer, currently a fulltime freelance writer / editor with three books to my name, a NEW YORK TIMES notable book award, and hundreds of freelance articles, essays, and features.

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