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Vegetable Literacy: Cooking and Gardening with Twelve Families from the Edible Plant Kingdom, with over 300 Deliciously Simple Recipes Hardcover – March 12, 2013


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Vegetable Literacy: Cooking and Gardening with Twelve Families from the Edible Plant Kingdom, with over 300 Deliciously Simple Recipes + The New Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone + Vegetable Soups from Deborah Madison's Kitchen
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Ten Speed Press; 1 edition (March 12, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1607741911
  • ISBN-13: 978-1607741916
  • Product Dimensions: 10.4 x 9.4 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (152 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,632 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Featured Recipe from Vegetable Literacy: Ivory Carrot Soup with a Fine Dice of Orange Carrots

Ivory Carrot Soup

Serves 4-6

Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 pound white carrots, scrubbed and thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon raw white rice
  • Sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 thyme sprig
  • 4 cups water or light chicken stock
  • Few tablespoons finely diced orange carrots and/or other colored carrots
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • About 1 tablespoon minced fine green carrot tops
Directions

Warm the butter and oil in a soup pot and add the onion, white carrots, rice, 1 teaspoon salt, and the sugar and thyme. Cook over medium heat for several minutes, turning everything occasionally. Add 1 cup of the water, cover, turn down the heat, and cook while you heat the remaining 3 cups water. When the water is hot, add it to the pot, cover, and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.

While the soup is cooking, cook the diced carrots in salted boiling water for about 3 minutes and then drain.

When ready, let cool slightly, then remove and discard the thyme sprig. Puree the soup until smooth in a blender. Taste for salt and season with the pepper. Reheat if it has cooled.

Ladle the soup into bowls, scatter the diced carrots and carrot tops over each serving, and serve.

Featured Recipe from Vegetable Literacy: Peas with Baked Ricotta and Bread Crumbs

Peas with Baked Ricotta

Serves 2

Ingredients
  • Olive oil
  • 1 cup high-quality ricotta cheese, such as hand-dipped full-fat ricotta
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons fresh bread crumbs
  • 4 teaspoons butter
  • 2 large shallots or 1/2 small onion, finely diced (about 1/3 cup)
  • 5 small sage leaves, minced (about 1 1/2 teaspoons)
  • 1 1/2 pounds pod peas, shucked (about 1 cup)
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Chunk of Parmesan cheese, for grating
Directions

Heat the oven to 375°F. Lightly oil a small baking dish; a round Spanish earthenware dish about 6 inches across is perfect for this amount.

If your ricotta is wet and milky, drain it first by putting it in a colander and pressing out the excess liquid. Pack the ricotta into the dish, drizzle a little olive oil over the surface, and bake 20 minutes or until the cheese has begun to set and brown on top. Cover the surface with the bread crumbs and continue to bake until the bread crumbs are browned and crisp, another 10 minutes. (The amount of time it takes for ricotta cheese to bake until set can vary tremendously, so it may well take longer than the times given here, especially if it wasn’t drained.)

When the cheese is finished baking, heat the butter in a small skillet over medium heat. When the butter foams, add the shallots and sage and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the peas, 1/2 cup water, and the lemon zest. Simmer until the peas are bright green and tender; the time will vary, but it should be 3 to 5 minutes. Whatever you do, don’t let them turn gray. Season with salt and a little freshly ground pepper, not too much.

Divide the ricotta between 2 plates. Spoon the peas over the cheese. Grate some Parmesan over all and enjoy while warm.

With Pasta: Cook 1 cup or so pasta shells in boiling, salted water. Drain and toss them with the peas, cooked as above, and then with the ricotta. The peas nestle in the pasta, like little green pearls.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Committed vegetarians will cheer over another book from the hands of Madison. One of the nation’s best-known vegetarian cooks, Madison has practiced her craft both at Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse and her own restaurant. Comprehensive and exhaustive, this new cookbook surveys the world of edible plant products in rigorous scientific groupings. Both text and color photographs educate readers to discover correlations and kinships and to explore how recipes adapt to encompass related ingredients. All of the nightshade family—eggplant, potatoes, tomatoes, and peppers—appear together. A sandwich of spinach, caramelized onions, and roasted peppers neighbors a sort of casserole assembled from little-known quelites (lamb’s quarters) and mushrooms layered with corn tortillas. Madison introduces even more curious vegetables, such as fourwing saltbush. Although most recipes fall into the vegan category, there are plenty of dairy products and eggs to broaden recipes’ appeal. Madison herself confesses partiality to tomatoes baked in cream. A necessary addition for both reference and circulating collections. --Mark Knoblauch

More About the Author

Deborah Madison is the author of nine cookbooks and countless articles on food, cooking, and farming. Currently she blogs for Gourmet and Culinate.

Customer Reviews

Highly recommend the book for anyone interested in eating more vegetables.
Ed K
It discusses botanical family information as well as providing some interesting inspirations for vegetable based cooking.
Maria Lena
It's beautifully photographed and the recipes I've tried so far have been simple to prepare and very good.
DNH@UNC

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

131 of 135 people found the following review helpful By Laura on March 12, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Some of my favorite cookbooks are not those that the newest or most interesting recipes, but those that make me think differently about a whole class or category of food (think James Peterson's Sauces: Classical and Contemporary Sauce Making or Diane Morgan's Roots: The Definitive Compendium with more than 225 Recipes). Vegetable Literacy does just that. Deborah Madison translates her years of experience with vegetarian cooking into a beautiful homage to vegetables.

One of the key premises of this book is that understanding the relationships between vegetables may influence the way you think about and use them. For example, the Knotweed family includes buckwheat, sorrel, and rhubarb. Knowing the relationship between these ingredients may inform your use of them. Thus, you may choose to add rhubarb to buckwheat muffins, knowing that the two share a phylogenetic family and thus have a natural affinity.

Vegetable Literacy is organized by vegetable family. Each member of the family is described in detail, with great information about appearance, history, and nutrients. The entry also includes excellent varieties to look for, information about using other portions of the plant, "kitchen wisdom," and other foods with which the vegetable pairs well.

In addition to all of this fantastic information about vegetables (both common and uncommon -- how much did I know about salsify before this book? Absolutely nothing), Vegetable Literacy contains some fantastic recipes.
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89 of 93 people found the following review helpful By Naomi Manygoats on March 13, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have long been a fan of Deborah Madison. I once had the opportunity to learn from her before the publication of Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, my favorite cookbook until today. Her recipes are nothing short of brilliant, and she is a genuinely nice person to boot. Her recipes turn the humble vegetable into sparkling masterpieces. Her ingredients are well thought out, and each one serves to add an important flavor component to the dish. I have been making some of her recipes for 12 or so years, from Greens, etc. and they do not seem dated, they still stun with their uniqueness and freshness. Therefore I could not wait to get my hands on this book, and I am totally thrilled with it. It is, in my opinion, a master work, and is her most gorgeous book to date. The Broccoli Bites with Curried Mayonnaise for example are quick to make, taste wonderful, and left me wondering why I had not thought of doing that before! Ditto the tomato and cilantro soup with black quinoa.

Besides being an absolutely fabulous cookbook, this is a great reference book. Instead of going from A-Z (A is for Asparagus, etc.) as so many authors have done with vegetables, Madison does something pretty astounding, and classifies vegetables by family. Deborah, through years of cooking and gardening experience, has observed that vegetables in the same family can be used interchangeably in cooking, due to shared botanical characteristics. So it greatly helps with the mystery of why some substitutions work beautifully and why some leave your family saying eeeek! She consulted with Botanist to bring us a book that is fun to read and learn from. The book has beautiful photography as well as formatting, and as usual Madison has some truly inventive and delicious recipes.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you have created a vegetable garden, and worked it even just one year or worked it more years than you care to count, you will be hooked on this book by the second page of the introduction. It contains a wealth of information; so much information, that you should not wait for your local library to get a copy: You need it NOW, and you will refer to it way too often to have to rely on the library's copy. If you are considering putting in your first vegetable garden, or if you often buy from a farmers' market or a local produce stand, you need to order this book, too. You will love it and, not only will you cook its recipes; you will be able to create your own favorites from all the tips included.

If you buy your produce from the grocery store, you will find a lot of great recipes and a lot of information on unfamiliar edible plants, grains, grasses, herbs, beans and vegetables. But (I'd roughly estimate that) a fifth of the information provided will not be of value to the grocery-store-buyer, since the book provides information on varieties available and how to make use of all parts of the plant: From seedlings that you weed out, to leaf tops of edible roots, to roots of edible tops, to bolted stems and flowers, etc. In other words, parts of the plant that grocery-store-buyers don't often see. But, I'd bet good money that anyone who reads this book and doesn't have a garden, will be hurriedly searching for a sunny piece of earth in which to pitch a shovel!

I won't go into the great information that you can find by reading this product page on Amazon. Definitely take advantage of the "Look Inside" feature. And definitely take a look at Deborah Madison's other published books.
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