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Vegetable Harvest: Vegetables at the Center of the Plate Hardcover – April 10, 2007

4.5 out of 5 stars 33 customer reviews

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100 Books for a Lifetime of Eating & Drinking
100 Books for a Lifetime of Eating & Drinking
 If you want to make an authentic tagine, bake mouth-watering cakes, or vicariously experience the life of a chef, you’ll find the book for it on this list.
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

To dispense with a puzzlement right away--though named Vegetable Harvest, Patricia Wells's marvelous 190-plus recipe collection doesn't center on those edibles exclusively. Rather, it offers a well-rounded dish selection that puts them to brilliant use, often as supporting players (except, of course, in chapters titled "Vegetables" and "Potatoes"). This bit of culinary license shouldn't discourage anyone from buying the book, whose recipes, such as Baby Squid Salad with Garlic, Olives, Tomatoes and Parsley; Penne with Fava Beans, Basil Puree, and Parmesan; and Lamb Couscous with Chickpeas and Zucchini, exemplify all that's remarkable about Wells's approach to modern French cooking. Emphasizing simplicity, ingredient freshness and, yes, ease of preparation, the dishes--including breads and desserts like Lemon and Rosemary Flatbread and Almond Buttermilk Sorbet--will delight any cook who prizes direct yet brilliantly orchestrated flavor. In addition to wine advice, Wells also offers a pantry chapter including sauce and vinaigrette recipes--Creamy Lemon-Chive Dressing is one--nearly worth owning the book for. In works including The Provence Cookbook and Bistro Cooking, Wells brought French cooking to the American kitchen in a way both authentic and relaxed. Vegetable Harvest furthers that approach spectacularly. --Arthur Boehm

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Wells, the author of several cookbooks including The Provence Cookbook, puts vegetables center stage in this appetizing and innovative collection. After surveying the bounty of her backyard garden, Wells became inspired to build meals around vegetables rather than starting with meat, fish or poultry. She tripled the number she served at each meal and tried different cooking methods, looking for the best-tasting, most wholesome ways of cooking each type. She includes nutritional information and an equipment list for each recipe, and selectively offers wine suggestions, translations of French food idioms, and nuggets of folklore connected to the dish or main ingredient. Recipes are plentiful and tantalizing, all with a slightly unusual approach. She moves from appetizers and salads through meats and side dishes to breads and desserts. The section on pasta, rice, beans, and grains is especially appealing, with such offerings as Pumpkin and Sage Risotto, and Roasted Chickpeas, Mushrooms, Artichokes and Tomatoes. Unusually titled chapters such as "The Pantry" and "Eggs, Cheese, and Friends" provide more than a few gems: Parmesan, Pine Nut, and Truffle Gratins, Fresh Figs on Rosemary Skewers, and Zesty Lemon Salt. Wells offers a fresh perspective and wealth of options for making vegetables the centerpiece of every meal. This collection is highly recommended for cooks and gardeners alike. (Apr.)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Cookbooks; First Edition edition (April 10, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060752440
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060752446
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #803,777 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jesse Kornbluth on May 10, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Timing is everything.

Patricia Wells, an American living in Paris, started her cookbook series in the traditional way --- with a book about bistro cookery. She moved up the food chain to fine Paris restaurants, then wandered south to Provence and the Trattoria cooking of Italy.

And now this book on vegetables.

Perfect timing. American cooks ---and eaters --- have come to understand what the French always knew: The way to slimness is portion size. That is, smaller helpings of fatty protein, larger servings of vegetables.

This is also the way to health. If you've read "The Omnivore's Dilemma"--- or any recent headline about food inspection and food safety --- you know you're taking a chance every time you shop at the supermarket. They say you'd never eat sausage if you saw how it's made; ditto for most beef, chicken or pork.

The secret --- saieth my wife, the one-time food professional --- is to spend more money to buy smaller quantities of the highest-quality meat and poultry. How do you fill your plate and satisfy your hunger? With vegetables, which are, at their worst, much less toxic than run-of-the-mill supermarket meat and poultry.

"Vegetable Harvest" establishes Patricia Wells as Julia Child for the new millennium. She's not a frothing New Ager, telling you to heap your plate with vegetables because meat is sinful --- she's just a close observer of traditional French cooking. That is, meat/fish/poultry prominent on the plate, just cooked with vegetables or surrounded by them.

To that good sense, she's added some welcome information: nutritional data about the dish: Tomato and Strawberry Gazpacho, for example, is 27 calories per serving, with 1 gram of protein and 6 grams of carbohydrates.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
`Vegetable Harvest' by the prolific culinary expatriate journalist and leading contemporary chronicler of the French `cuisine bourgeoisie' Patricia Wells is anticipated by foodies with about as much glee as the fans awaiting the next Harry Potter installation. At least at my house, that is true. So, imagine my surprise when I discover I am not immediately impressed by the book's realization of the premise promised by the title and subtitle. In the end, I find this a typically rewarding Patricia Wells cookbook. It's just that Ms. Wells happened to hide her best light under a basket this time.

This is NOT a book all about vegetable recipes! Rather, it is a book which, like all her other books, celebrates everyday French cooking, and in doing so, underlining the fact that vegetables are central to much of what is great about French cooking, and shows us how this is so. Overall, the book covers all the bases that any typical cookbook does. It has some recipes with no vegetables in it at all, and some where the only vegetable is an herb or some garlic. But what Madame Wells does with vegetables is really a joy. The book is something like a movie where a traditionally great supporting actor such as Harvey Keitel or Joe Panteleone (Joe Pants!) steps into the leading role, with Jack Nicholson or John Travolta playing the supporting role.

The part about hiding her virtues under a basket refer to the fact that there are two facts given for almost every recipe which are enormously useful for using the recipes for good nutrition or entertaining. The amazing thing is that these features show up with no fanfare in the introduction. The first is a nutritional analysis of each dish by serving.
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Format: Hardcover
I pre-ordered this book on a whim, and am so glad I did! The recipes are easy and accessible; the ingredient lists are short and often include what I already have kicking around the kitchen, the prep and cooking times tend to be on the short side, and the cooking techniques used are basic, but fun. The nutritional information given for each recipe is very helpful, and Ms. Wells' comments on French culture and "things she's learned" from her past experience are both useful and diverting. In a culture that perceives a balanced meal as a giant hunk of meat and a blob of potatoes on a plate with a smattering of vegetables on the side, it's a challenge to make a shift to eating more vegetables. This cookbook makes it easy to start planning a meal with the vegetables. Many of the recipes have a short enough prep time that I cook them on weeknights after work, where in the past I would get take-out or eat cereal, because real cooking didn't fit into my schedule. I have been cooking much more since I got this book, and have easily doubled my vegetable intake. I feel lighter, more energetic, and generally better about what I'm eating, and everything tastes so good that I can't wait to dig in! I haven't tried any of the breads yet, but just purchased a KitchenAid mixer with a dough hook so that I can begin to tackle them too! This cookbook will almost certainly be a Christmas gift to several of my friends!
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Patricia Wells has outdone herself. The recipes are easy, the directions are clear and the calorie count and other nutritional information is very helpful. Every recipe I have tried so far is delicious. Don't miss the deceptively simple corn and lemon zest recipe.
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