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Vegetable Literacy
Cover of Vegetable Literacy
Vegetable Literacy
Cooking and Gardening with Twelve Families from the Edible Plant Kingdom, with over 300 Deliciously Simple Recipes [A Cookbook]
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In her latest cookbook, Deborah Madison, America's leading authority on vegetarian cooking and author of Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, reveals the surprising relationships between vegetables, edible flowers, and herbs within the same botanical families, and how understanding these connections can help home cooks see everyday vegetables in new light.

Destined to become the new standard reference for cooking vegetables, Vegetable Literacy, by revered chef Deborah Madison, shows cooks that vegetables within the same family, because of their shared characteristics, can be used interchangeably in cooking. For example, knowing that dill, chervil, cumin, parsley, coriander, anise, and caraway come from the umbellifer family makes it clear why they're such good matches for carrots, also an umbel. With stunning images from the team behind Canal House cookbooks and website, and 150 classic and exquisitely simple recipes, such as Savoy Cabbage on Rye Toast with GruyèreCheese; Carrots with Caraway Seed, Garlic, and Parsley; and Pan-fried Sunchokes with Walnut Sauce and Sunflower Sprouts; Madison brings this wealth of information together in dishes that highlight a world of complementary flavors.

In her latest cookbook, Deborah Madison, America's leading authority on vegetarian cooking and author of Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, reveals the surprising relationships between vegetables, edible flowers, and herbs within the same botanical families, and how understanding these connections can help home cooks see everyday vegetables in new light.

Destined to become the new standard reference for cooking vegetables, Vegetable Literacy, by revered chef Deborah Madison, shows cooks that vegetables within the same family, because of their shared characteristics, can be used interchangeably in cooking. For example, knowing that dill, chervil, cumin, parsley, coriander, anise, and caraway come from the umbellifer family makes it clear why they're such good matches for carrots, also an umbel. With stunning images from the team behind Canal House cookbooks and website, and 150 classic and exquisitely simple recipes, such as Savoy Cabbage on Rye Toast with GruyèreCheese; Carrots with Caraway Seed, Garlic, and Parsley; and Pan-fried Sunchokes with Walnut Sauce and Sunflower Sprouts; Madison brings this wealth of information together in dishes that highlight a world of complementary flavors.

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Excerpts-
  • Introduction


    It started with a carrot that had gone on in its second year to make a beautiful lacy umbel of a flower. I was enchanted and began to notice other lacy flowers in my garden that looked similar--parsley, fennel, cilantro, anise, as well as Queen Anne's lace on a roadside--they are all members of the same plant family, as it turned out. Similarly, small daisy-like flowers, whether blue, yellow, orange, enormous or very small, bloomed on lettuce that had gone to seed as well as on wild chicories, the Jerusalem artichokes, and, of course, the sunflowers themselves. Were they related? They were, it turns out. And did edible members of this group somehow share culinary characteristics as well? Often they did. That led me to ask, What are the plant families that provide us with the vegetables we eat often, what characteristics do their members share, and what are their stories?


    Cauliflower with Saffron, Pepper Flakes, Plenty of Parsley, and Pasta
    For 4
    I love this approach to cauliflower. In fact, I'd say it's my favorite way to cook it. It's golden, aromatic, and lively in the mouth. It's good alone and very good spooned over pasta shells, which catch the smaller bits of the vegetable. Even a small cauliflower can be surprisingly dense, weighing a pound and yielding 4 cups florets.

    1 cauliflower (about 11/2 pounds), broken into small florets, the core diced
    2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for tossing the pasta
    1 onion, finely diced
    2 pinches of saffron threads
    1 large clove garlic, minced
    Scant 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
    4 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
    Sea salt
    8 ounces pasta shells, snails or other shapes
    Grated aged cheese or crumbled feta cheese (optional)
    Steam the cauliflower florets and core over boiling water for about 3 minutes. Taste a piece. It should be on the verge of tenderness and not quite fully cooked. Set it aside.
    Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta.
    Heat the oil in a wide skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and saffron and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is soft, 6 minutes or so. The steam will activate the saffron so that it stains and flavors the onion. Add the garlic, pepper flakes, and a few pinches of the parsley, give them a stir, and then add the cauliflower. Toss the cauliflower to coat it with the seasonings, add 1/2 cup water, and cook over medium heat until the cauliflower is tender, just a few minutes. Season with salt, toss with half of the remaining parsley, and keep warm.
    While the cauliflower is cooking, cook the pasta in the boiling water seasoned with salt until al dente. Drain, transfer to a warmed bowl, and toss with a few tablespoons of oil and the remaining parsley. Taste for salt, then spoon the cauliflower over the pasta, wiggle some of it into the pasta crevices, grate the cheese on top, and serve.

About the Author-
  • DEBORAH MADISON is an award-winning author of eleven cookbooks and has been featured in the New York Times, Food & Wine, and Bon Appétit.She serves on the board of Slow Food International and Seed Savers Exchange. She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    February 18, 2013
    Vegetables are the new heroes of the food world, as more and more of us try to eat healthier meals and many struggle to lose weight. Madison (Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone), a leading expert on vegetarian cooking, helps us expand our vegetable knowledge by examining edible plant families, which, in turn, determine our cooking, growing, and eating choices. She showcases 12 plant families—from the very familiar to those that are less well-known, including carrots, mint, sunflowers, cabbage, and more. In addition, she covers how to use the entire plant, highlights different varieties, and offers truly helpful suggestions for companion ingredients. Madison also includes appealing and original recipes for main and side dishes, as well as appetizing desserts such as carrot almond cake with ricotta cream, red rhubarb–berry ice cream, and corn cookies with almonds and raisins. Madison’s keen focus covers a variety of squashes, grains, legumes, and tubers, showcased in all their versatile goodness in dishes such as butternut squash soup with coconut milk, miso, and lime; chewy oat and maple pancakes; peas in butter lettuce; and sweet potato flan with maple yogurt and caramel pecans. An avid gardener and vegetable aficionado, Madison may tell us more than some of us want to know about these plants, but her writing is clear and accessible, and her unique dishes will be irresistible to veggie lovers everywhere.

  • Library Journal

    Starred review from March 15, 2013

    Leading vegetarian cooking authority Madison's (Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone) latest cookbook combines the poetic gardening savvy of Nigel Slater's Tender and Ripe with the history and botany of James Peterson's Vegetables, Revised. To illustrate the similarities between edible plants, with the intent of teaching readers to become more intuitive cooks, Madison groups her recipes into 12 vegetable families subdivided by species (for instance, "The Sunflower Family" includes artichokes, cardoons, endives, tarragon, and more). For each plant, Madison includes a detailed description, selected varieties, storage and prep advice, and suggested flavor pairings. VERDICT This ambitious reference, beautifully photographed by Melissa Hamilton and Christopher Hirscheimer of Canal House, can help readers deepen their vegetable knowledge.

    Copyright 2013 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    Starred review from March 15, 2013
    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 familyeggplant, potatoes, tomatoes, and peppersappear 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.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2013, American Library Association.)

  • Yotam Ottolenghi, author of Plenty and Jerusalem

    "I have always marveled at Deborah Madison's deep knowledge of vegetables and her original creations, which taste just as delicious as they sound. Vegetable Literacy is her latest tour de force, a massive well of knowledge that makes you want to read and learn as well as cook. A fine achievement and a real inspiration for me."

  • David Tanis, author of Heart of the Artichoke and Other Kitchen Journeys "I have long been a fan of both Deborah's vibrant food and her many thorough, thoughtful cookbooks. In Vegetable Literacy she offers, with abundant warmth and generosity, observations from years of garden-to-table cooking. Filled with fascinating botanical notes and inspired recipes that really explore vegetables from the ground up--it is a pleasure to read. The writing is beautiful and the lessons are astutely down to earth."
  • Amy P. Goldman, PhD, author of The Heirloom Tomato: From Garden to Table "Deborah Madison has taken vegetables to a whole new level. You'll want to know what she knows--about botany, family pairings, and companion flavors on the plate. In cooking, Madison excels, but she's also a natural with observation in the garden. Her passion is palpable, her scholarship tops, and her prose exquisite."
  • Heidi Swanson, author of Super Natural Every Day "The are few people equipped with the curiosity, skill, and eye for observation required to construct a volume of this size and scope--and Deborah does it masterfully. Vegetable Literacy will shift the way both home and professional cooks think about the relationship between ingredients, and vegetables in particular. Using this book has felt like a missing puzzle piece snapping into place--inspiring, intimate, informative, and beautifully illustrated."
  • David Lebovitz, author of Ready for Dessert and The Sweet Life in Paris "For those of us who love vegetables, Deborah Madison gives not only practical tips for buying them, but also a bounty of diverse recipes. This is a monumental cookbook from a gifted writer and one of the best cooks of our time."
  • Wendy Johnson, author of Gardening at Dragon's Gate: a Work in the Wild and Cultivated World "In Vegetable Literacy, Deborah Madison elegantly folds together a joy of gardening, a fascination for botanical kinship, and an expansive knowledge of fine and simple cooking. This book is a nutrient-dense treasure."
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Vegetable Literacy
Vegetable Literacy
Cooking and Gardening with Twelve Families from the Edible Plant Kingdom, with over 300 Deliciously Simple Recipes [A Cookbook]
Deborah Madison
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