I had my meditation group over for a potluck this past Friday. I hauled out my stained and dog-eared copy of The Greens Cookbook by Deborah Madison and settled on the fabulous Black Bean Chili. I have a number of favourites in that cookbook including the very festive baked polenta with gooey layers of tomato sauce, fontina and gorogonzola cheeses. I have also had the pleasure of eating at the cookbook’s namesake restaurant in San Francisco. Thankfully, neither that restaurant nor the cookbook can be accused of being funky granola or bean sprout-centric. Probably because Madison was first inspired by a meal she ate at a little restaurant owned by another food legend, Alice Waters. Madison worked at Chez Panisse for a time before opening her own place in 1979. Greens was one of the first restaurants to have a farm fresh menu, sourced from their nearby farm. Then she wrote the cookbook, followed by several more, including her latest, called Vegetable Literacy, which looks delicious and educational at the same time. It would make a great Christmas gift for your favourite foodie. The description is below.
Families are about similarities and relationships, and it’s as true with plants as it is with our own human families. Vegetable Literacy is about twelve plant families, their names, their quirks and histories, their relationships to one another, and some 300 recipes for how to cook and use them—simply and often intuitively. Many of the plants in these twelve families are familiar, but they go beyond the supermarket versions we see. For example, leeks have very long leaves called flags, but you wouldn’t know that if you didn’t have a garden. Did you know you can eat broccoli leaves as well as the stems and crowns? Kohlrabi leaves are quite edible too. Or that rhubarb, sorrel and buckwheat are all knotweeds? How is that spinach, chard and beet greens along with some edible weeds that are no doubt in your garden are called “goosefoots”? Vegetable Literacy will tell you these whys and wherefores and much, much more.